Nestoras Kommatos was signed by Lokomotiv Rostov late in the summer for his talent and experience.
Both qualities came to the fore in their 87-69 triumph over BC Strumica on Tuesday, a
|Lorinza Harrington had eight points and six boards in the win.|
Kommatos scored 18 points and nailed a three-pointer to spark a decisive 15-2 run at the start of the second half to propel Lokomotiv to victory.
The victory followed Lokomotiv's 67-57 first-leg win in FYR Macedonia, giving Oleg Meleschenko's men a decisive 28-point win on aggregate.
Lokomotiv dominated the boards in this game, out-rebounding Strumica 55-21.
Kommatos, 30, had 13 of those rebounds.
Lokomotiv are among the favorites for this competition but Strumica and their coach Jovica Arsic have shown they fully deserve their place in the tournament as well.
After surviving the Elimination Round 1 against Cedevita Zagreb, though, Strumica came off the rails last week at home against Lokomotiv.
Arsic still gave his team a fighting chance to win and early on Tuesday, that looked possible just over three minutes into the game when Dime Tasovski buried a three-ball for a 13-4 advantage to leave Strumica just a point behind on aggregate.
They weren't able to build on the lead.
Instead, Lokomotiv began to discover their rhythm and a basket by center Szymon Szewczyk capped 9-1 run for the hosts to leave the contest at 14-14.
Strumica reeled off the next six points before Anthony Goldwire connected from long range.
The visitors went back in front by 23-19 when Eftim Bogojev made one of two at the charity stripe with 6:18 remaining in the first half.
New signing Junior Harrington made his presence felt by making a three-pointer for Lokomotiv.
Strumica continued to battle and led 29-24, but a pair of Kommatos free throws finished a 6-0 surge for Lokomotiv and put the home side into a 30-29 lead with 1:12 to go in the second quarter.
The visitors still had a chance at half-time, trailing 36-34, but the third quarter belonged to Lokomotiv.
They took control for good when Kommatos hit his three-ball a minute and 17 seconds into the third period to start the 15-1 run.
The Russian outfit held a double-digit lead for the rest of the contest.