Russia On Track For European Cup Sweep

15 April 2013

BASKETBALL IN EUROPE

Evgeny Pashutin, UNICS KAZAN
Evgeny Pashutin is only the second coach to win the Eurocup twice

Lokomotiv Kuban's 75-64 triumph over Uxue Bilbao Basket in the Eurocup final in Charleroi on Saturday night meant more than the first conquest of a European trophy in the history of the Krasnodar club.

For the future of Lokomotiv, the direct consequence is that they will be afforded the chance next season to experience perhaps even greater moments, since by clinching the Eurocup title they have been granted a place in the new Turkish Airlines Euroleague.

For their coach, Evgeny Pashutin, it meant he is now tied with Rimas Kurtinaitis as the only coach to have won the Eurocup twice, as he had also led UNICS Kazan to the title in 2011, in Treviso.

But Lokomotiv's win in Saturday's final also translates into an important milestone for Russian basketball, while at the same time it could be an important middle step towards another.

Lokomotiv's win extended the winning streak of Russian clubs in the Eurocup to three titles in a row, as Kazan's success was followed last year by Khimki Moscow Region, and four titles in total, the same like Spain.

It was also the third link in an unprecedented chain of five trophies that, if completed this season, will coronate Russian basketball as the dominant force in Europe in 2013.

In mid-March, Dynamo Moscow prevailed over Kayseri Kaski spor in the EuroCup Women Finals, to win the first European club competition of the season.

Then a few days later, UMMC Ekaterinburg were proclaimed champions in the EuroLeague Women, after winning the Final Eight on home soil, and added the second link to the chain.

Lokomotiv's success on Saturday was the third and Russian clubs have now two more steps to take in the four weeks to complete a clean sweep of European competitions this year.

On the last weekend in April, Krasnye Krylia travel to Izmir to compete in the EuroChallege Final Four and, should they return from Turkey victorious, they will have added the fourth ring to the chain.

Meanwhile there is only one Russian club that has qualified to the quarter-final play-offs of the Euroleague, but it happens to be powerhouse CSKA Moscow.

Ettore Messina's side have already taken a 2-0 lead in their series with Caja Laboral and are one win away from punching their ticket to the Final Four of the competition, in London.

If CSKA win their third Euroleague title since the turn of the century on 12 May in the British capital, and if this success comes after a Krasnye Krylia triumph in the EuroChallenge, 2013 will go down as a landmark year in Russian and European basketball.

"This is a big result for us in Krasnodar, a small city in the south of Russia," Pashutin said after Saturday's final.

"To reach the Euroleague is a big result.

"We now have one more team in a city where the fans love basketball.

"This is big progress for basketball in Russia."


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