Tsmoki-Minsk: Branko Mirkovic (21 + 9 assists), Dominez Burnett (16), Vladimir Veremeenko (14)
Lokomotiv-Kuban: Vitaly Fridzon (17), Sam Dekker (15 + 11 rebounds), Johnny O’Bryant (15 + 10 rebounds), Dmitriy Kulagin (14 + 8 assists)
Tsmoki-Minsk and Lokomoti played their first game of VTB League season. In the first half, Loko lacked confidence in defense, especially on the perimeter (7 of 15 for Dragons and only 2 3-pointers for Kuban). The first 20 minutes were a close game – 49:46 for Loko.
After the halftime break the star rookie of Tsmoki Vladimir Veremeenko contributed to hosts performance with a solo 7-point run (53:53). Loko could take a solid lead only in the end of the third quarter thanks to successful defense and Vitaly Fridzon and Vladimir Ivlev’s shots on the last minute making it 68:61.
The final quarter started with three-pointers of Fridzon and Johnny O’Bryant 74:72.
Tsmoki’s poor start of the fourth quarter was not critical – points of Mirkovic and Dominez Burnett made it 72:78 at the mid-quarter. But within the next 27 seconds Sam Dekker made two dunks to take back double-digit differential for Loko which demoralized the hosts. Time-out was no use for Minsk. Russian team controlled the rest of the game and started the season with a win - 88:80.
Tsmoki-Minsk head coach Rostislav Vergun:
We had a good game for about 35 minutes, but then we let them make open shots. You don’t really count on them missing. But I have to thank the guys for giving it all on the court. Now we have just to move on. Congrats to Loko, wish them a good season.
Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Luca Banchi:
It was a tough game, like we expected. You should remember that we came here right after Vilnius where we suffered a loss from Rytas, and lost important player Will Cummings. I’m confident the team did a great job despite the low 3-pointers percentage.