Euroleague: Lokomotiv downs Barcelona for Final Four berth

EuroleagueAnother Spanish giant has fallen in the Euroleague Playoffs as Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar tamed Barcelona to reach the Final Four in Berlin next month.

The Russian club sent Barcelona packing in the fifth and deciding game in the Euroleague Playoff best of five tie, the only of this stage to go the distance. While Lokomotiv’s achievement is immense, in the wake of an 81-67 loss on the road, all eyes are on Barcelona. This has hardly been a vintage campaign for Barca and their rival Real Madrid and the two clubs are out of the competition early, and with tails between legs.

But let’s not take away from a Lokomotiv team that has been building to this continental run for several seasons. The team is known for its dogged determination, but this season the players have added that extra class that can define games and series’. This game was confirmation of all those attributes and now the Russians enter the Final Four for the first time, where Laboral Kutxa Vitoria, CSKA Moscow, and Fenerbahce Istanbul already await.

Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. FC Barcelona Lassa, 81-67

After tying the series 2-2 in Spain last week, Barcelona knew it would need a huge road performance to take out Lokomotiv in Krasnodar. Over thirty minutes the former champions got the job done, but in typical Lokomotiv fashion the hosts roared back in a series defining fourth quarter charge.

The first half was some of the best hoops Lokomotiv has produced this season as the club drained 26 points in the first quarter and then added 24 points in the second. 50 first half points ensured the hosts a 50-39 lead through the long break. It looked a forgone conclusion at that point, but in the second half the game would twist and turn.

It started in the third act when Barcelona found some wind in its sails and punished Lokomotiv at both ends of the court. An 8-23 charge in the third handed the hosts a 58-62 advantage through thirty minutes and the momentum seemed to be with the Spaniards. However, Lokomotiv got cooking in the fourth quarter and streamed in 14 unanswered points as Barcelona collapsed and only scored 5. The home team had won and the Catalan giant was decimated.

Malcolm Delaney topped the win with 17 points and 6 assists, while Chris Singleton stood out with a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. Ryan Broekhoff added 14 points in victory.

Stratos Perperoglou led the losing effort with 13 points, followed by Juan Carlos Navarro with 12 points.

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