|Russian international Anton Ponkrashov's time in Krasnye Krylia has been short-lived|
Reigning EuroChallenge champions Krasnye Krylia Samara will most likely have to go into the decisive battles of their two remaining encounters in Last 16 Group K without Anton Ponkrashov.
The Russian international, who has been experiencing a great run of form lately, is in advanced negotiations with fellow Russian club Lokomotiv Kuban and could join the Krasnodar side as early as Monday.
"Lokomotiv is ready to incorporate Anton Ponkrashov," the club's president Andrey Vedischev told news agency R-Sport on Sunday.
"On Monday, the player will undergo a medical and if all goes well, he will continue his career in Krasnodar."
Should he join Lokomotiv, Ponkrashov will play the remainder of the season under new Russia head coach Evgeny Pashutin and help the Krasnodar club in their bid to reach the play-offs in both the VTB United League and the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
As one of the leaders of Krasnye Krylia this season, the Russian combo guard has been averaging 13.6 points, 4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in the EuroChallenge and contributing a similarly all-round 13.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per contest in the VTB League.
His departure would be one more blow to Krasnye Krylia head coach Sergey Bazarevich's efforts to put together a new group of players in Samara and build a homogeneous core to his team.
|Aaron Miles and Krasnye Krylia suffered domestic woes at the weekend, falling to Neptunas on the raod|
Bracey Wright, who was Krasnye Krylia's leading scorer during the first third of the season, joined Hapoel Jerusalem immediately after the Christmas break and the Samara side were almost simultaneously hit by injuries to frontcourt duo Artem Zabelin and Julian Wright, which forced them to miss several games.
In order to deal with the absences, the reigning EuroChallenge champions added to their roster the likes of Polish international Michal Ignerski, Bulgarian international Filip Videnov and Ukrainian international Oleksiy Pecherov.
While Ponkrashov would leave a sizeable gap in the team, Lokomotiv's interest in the player has been known for a while and in this case Krasnye Krylia had the time to plan ahead, by securing the services of swingman Larry O'Bannon last week.
O'Bannon and Ponkrashov have co-existed in the lineup in Krasnye Krylia's three games during this time, but neither could prevent their team's loss at the weekend in VTB league action, 94-86 to Neptunas.
Samara travelled to Lithuania and came up with a fantastic third quarter to turn a six-point half-time deficit into a five-point lead going into the fourth frame.
Neptunas however managed to draw level at the end of regulation and take the game into overtime.
Krasnye Krylia run out of ideas offensively in the extra period, were outscored 13-5 and lost despite the fact that Ignerski finished with a game-high 26 points and added seven rebounds.
Ponkrashov had 16 points and eight assists and O'Bannon added nine points and four assists in losing efforts.
Morale Boost For Group K Contenders
|Lorenzo Williams and BK Ventspils claimed a morale-boosting victory in weekend BBL action |
BK Ventspils are in a delicate position on Tuesday, as they could win away at Dijon and still find themselves out of the race for qualification from EuroChallenge Group K, should Triumph Lyubertsy win away at Royal Hali Gaziantep.
The Latvians however received a significant injection of self-confidence at the weekend, as they rolled over Lithuanian side Siauliai 98-56 at home, in the clash that decided first spot in Group B of the Baltic Basketball League Regular Season.
Lorenzo Williams, with 19 points and seven rebounds together with Janis Timma, who finished with 18 points and six assists paved the way for Ventspils, who now head into the BBL play-offs from an advantageous position.
Triumph also clinched a vital victory on the road this weekend, to improve to 9-5 in the VTB League Regular Season and effectively secure third place in Group A.
The Russian side travelled to Latvia to take on VEF Riga and prevailed 89-78 on the back of a season-high 22 points from shooting guard Evgeny Voronov, who went 9-of-13 from the floor.
Cory Higgins chipped in with 18 points and four rebounds while Kyle Landry was also key in Triumph's success, with 16 points and seven boards.
Neither Triumph nor Ventspils however can possibly be in a batter state of mind than Gaziantep is at the moment.
The Turkish side extended their amazing winning run, which begun in December, at the weekend with a 75-70 win away at direct rivals Aykon TED Ankara Kolejliler in BEKO TBL action.
Gaziantep, who at the beginning of December were in penultimate place in the TBL standings, have now climbed into the play-off spots for the first time in their history, as they stand eighth with an 8-10 record.
Ernest Bremer led Gaziantep with 16 points, Dejan Borovnjak contributed 14 points and six rebounds while Oliver Stevic with Baris Ermis finished with 13 points apiece for the winners.
Meanwhile Dijon, who are out of contention in EuroChallenge Group K, lost 86-80 to Nanterre in the quarter-finals of the French Leaders Cup at the weekend.
Terrance Campbell picked up a game-high 23 points and Anthony Dobbins had 18 points and eight rebounds for Dijon in losing efforts.
Le Mans edged out Nanterre 64-59 in the big final of the Leaders Cup on Sunday to win the competition.