By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
When the season started, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar was considered a top favorite to win the 7DAYS EuroCup trophy. Fast forward to this week, and the challenge for the club couldn’t be higher, and the main prize at this point is staying alive in the competition.
With a 2-5 record that includes defeats by Rytas Vilnius, Lokomotiv currently sits tied for fifth place in the Group B standings with a 2-5 record. With Rytas in fourth place at 3-4, Lokomotiv has to make things happen now. Lokomotiv has three regular-season games left, on the road against Limoges CSP and Tofas Bursa and at home against Partizan NIS Belgrade, to turn this around.
A defeat in any one of those three games may mean the end of the EuroCup season, and that’s why Lokomotiv had to react.
In those cases, the usual target is the coach, and Luca Banchi parted ways with the club after its latest loss. While you can argue that Banchi didn’t have the chance to present his final vision of the team, you can’t but agree that results didn’t help him or the club.
Last week’s defeat at the hands of Umana Reyer Venice was the last chance for him. With the Italians getting the “W,” a shock was needed in Krasnodar, and in those cases, the obvious solution is to replace the coach.
Enter Bogdan Karaicic. Born in 1984, the former assistant of Banchi, who had his first head coaching experiences in Denmark, is no stranger to Loko. He became part of the coaching staff back in the summer of 2017, and as the club announced, he is going to be the interim head coach for Wednesday’s Round 8 visit to Limoges. The stakes couldn’t be higher for his team. However, an 87-63 win against Kalev Talin against Sunday for the VTB United League is a good sign.
Karaicic, in the role of the head coach, is not the only novelty for Lokomotiv.
After Vitaly Fridzon’s injury, Mindaugas Kuzminskas left Olympiacos last week and become the newest member of Loko. After a mediocre start in the EuroCup game against Venice, he had 15 points against Kalev. He has the experience, the talent, the know-how, and the motivation to not let the EuroCup season of his new team end prematurely.
And that’s also a fact about the rest of the Lokomotiv’s roster.
Will Cummings, a 2018 EuroCup champion with Darussafaka Istanbul, former Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv forward Johnny O’Bryant and one of the biggest summer signings in Europe, former NBA player Sam Dekker, have not said their last word.
So, if you are searching for the game to watch this week, the showdown between Limoges CSP and Lokomotiv, despite both teams having 2-5 records, is a natural choice.
Expect blood, sweat, and tears on the court, because there might be no tomorrow in the EuroCup for the losing side. And if that can’t be considered as totally unexpected for Limoges, it will be a total derailment for Lokomotiv.
Photo credit: EuroCup