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Series Breakdown, Quarterfinal C: Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar vs. Herbalife Gran Canaria

Lokomotiv and Gran Canaria have been woven into the fabric of the 7DAYS EuroCup as two of the most-accomplished franchises in the history of the competition, but only one of them will reach the semifinals this season.

Lokomotiv and Gran Canaria have been woven into the fabric of the 7DAYS EuroCup as two of the most-accomplished franchises in the history of the competition. Lokomotiv brings a perfect record into the quarterfinals. Gran Canaria started the 2014-15 season with 12 straight wins and was 21-1 before getting swept in that season’s finals by Khimki Moscow Region. Gran Canaria has won 108 EuroCup games, which is third-most in EuroCup history. Lokomotiv’s 67 victories is eighth-most.

Half of the Gran Canaria roster has either tasted or been one step away from glory at the highest European levels: three players from the current squad– Eulis Baez, Albert Oliver and Oriol Pauli – played for Gran Canaria in the 2015 EuroCup Finals; Pablo Aguilar was on the Real Madrid roster when it won the 2007 ULEB Cup; Ondrej Balvin debuted with Cajasol Sevilla when it reached the EuroCup Finals in 2011; and Xavi Rabaseda played in back to back Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Fours with FC Barcelona in 2012 and 2013.

In addition to the half-dozen Lokomotiv players (Evgeny Baburin, Ryan Broekhoff, Mardy Collins, Vladimir Ivlev, Dmitry Khovostov and Denis Levshin) who got the team to last season’s EuroCup Semfinals, Lokomotiv boasts two former EuroCup champs – Khovostov conquered the competition in 2012 with Khimki Moscow Region and Ilnitskiy did it in 2015 with the same team – plus a former EuroLeague winner in Dmitry Kulagin, who played for CSKA Moscow when it won the 2016 crown. Collins reached the 2016 EuroCup Finals with Strasbourg, Pavel Antipov appeared in the 2014 finals with UNICS Kazan; Baburin has twice been to the EuroCup Semifinals – in 2014 with Nizhny Novgorod and last season with Lokomotiv; and Ryan Broekhoff reached the 2016 EuroLeague Final Four.

Not here by accident
These two teams have been among the most productive in the EuroCup this season – Gran Canaria is second in performance index rating with 103.7 per game and Lokomotiv is third with 97.4, but they have done it in different ways. Gran Canaria leads the EuroCup in scoring with 89.5 point per game, which is the 10th best average in EuroCup history and the third-best among teams with at least 16 games played. Gran Canaria has made the most two-pointers (384), while Lokomotiv has made the second-most threes in the competition this season (153). Lokomotiv has limited opponents to the fewest points in the league (69.1 ppg.) and the lowest average performance index rating (66.9). Gran Canaria is allowing 85.2 points and 86.2 PIR.

Where are they similar? Gran Canaria is tied for second in assists this season with 20.1 per game, which is the ninth-best in EuroCup history. Lokomotiv is fourth in assists (19.7 apg.) this season and 14th all-time. Amazingly, the have almost identical assist-to-turnovers ratios, too: Gran Canaria is fifth at 143.1% and Lokomotiv sixth at 142.5%. Gran Caanria has allowed the second-fewest amount of rebounds this season (29.8 per game) and Lokomotiv has given up the third-fewest (30.1). Lokomotiv is also fourth in rebounding (36.4 rpg.), but Gran Canaria is ninth (34.6 rpg.).

Experienced delivery men
Their numbers may not jump out, but Albert Oliver of Gran Canaria and Dmitry Khvostov of Lokomotiv are two of the most-experienced point guards in EuroCup history and either could potentially play a decisive role in this series. They are among the all-time EuroCup leaders in assists and games won. Oliver, who is in his seventh EuroCup campaign and fourth with Gran Canaria, is third on the all-time charts with 391 assists. Khvostov, who is in his eighth EuroCup campaign and second with Lokomotiv, is sixth with 339 career assists, but well within striking distance of fourth; Mike Green (350) is in fifth place and E.J. Rowland (351) is fourth. Oliver is also third having helped his teams to 82 EuroCup victories and Khvostov is fifth with 76 victories. Experienced leaders, great playmakers and true winners; Oliver and Khvostov could be the difference makers in this series.

Previous meetings
Unlike most of the other teams set to square off in the quarterfinals, Lokomotiv and Gran Canaria have met before. In fact, they played just last season. The teams have shared the spoils in each of the two seasons that they have played, though that obviously cannot be the case this time. The fist times the teams ever met, Gran Canaria won 84-76 at home in the 2011-12 season opener. Taurean Green led five Gran Canaria scorers in double figures with 18 points. In the Round 6 clash, Jeremiah Massey and Ali Traore each recorded double doubles in a 73-51 rout, which to date remains the fewest points Gran Canaria ever scored in a EuroCup game. Both teams finished their regular season group tied with 4-2 records, though after tiebreakers Banvit Bandirma of Turkey was first, Lokomotv second and Gran Canaria finished third and did not advance to the next stage. Last season, Ryan Broekhoff and Matt Janning combined for 9 three-pointers and 36 points to lead Lokomotiv to a 71-86 road win in their Top 16 opener. A month later, Gran Canaria edged Lokomotiv 66-68 in Russia on a pair of Bo McCAlebb free throws with 7.7 seconds left. Lokomotiv finished atop the Group E standings with a 5-1 record and Gran Canaria was second at 4-2. A handful of players from both teams who competed in those games are back this season.

Homes of the Cups
After the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 came to a close, both Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar and Herbalife Gran Canaria shifted their respective attention to domestic cups, with Krasnodar hosting the final stages of the Russian Cup and Las Palmas doing the same for Spain’s Copa del Rey. Lokomotiv took advantage of its home-court advantage to win the Russian Cup for the first time in 18 years. Lokomotiv bested Nizhny Novgorod 85-64 in the final behind 29 points and 6 assists from Dmitry Kulagin. Lokomotiv won the Cup despite playing with half its normal roster; the Russian Cup stipulates that teams can only play with Russian players. Elsewhere, Gran Canaria ran over Montakit Fuenlabrada 107-92 in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals behind 18 points apiece from Ondrej Balvin and Pablo Aguilar. Despite holding a 43-41 halftime lead over FC Barcelona Lassa in the semifinals, Gran Canaria was eliminated74-87. Marcus Eriksson scored 25 points on 6-of-8 three-point shooting in the loss.