Astana host Lokomotiv Kuban in a regular season game
Kazakhstan, Nur-Sultan, SC Saryarka (capacity 9270 spectators)
12 October 2019, 15:00 (12:00 MSK)
VTB League website, Match! Strana
Odds by Fonbet:
Astana wins – 4,0
Lokomotiv wins -1,25
Differential +8,5 for Astana – 1,9
Differential -8,5 for Lokomotiv – 1,9
Total over/under 161 – 1,9
Face to face
Competition between Astana and Lokomotiv Kuban can’t be named as principal. Teams have never met before in playoffs. They played only 10 league games, and Lokomotiv won 8 out of them. Astana took the shine off the Russian top club in the last season, when they won 90:71 on the road. In the 2nd round Lokomotiv took the revenge for this painful loss also on the road – 93:83. Lokomotiv is the first Russian club with which Astana played Historical game took place in Krasnodar within the Russian railways cup, 28 of September 2011.
Last season was the most successful in the Astana history. Club was playing on the same level with all the contenders, and only lost 5th place to Zenit in the championship. Ironically successful performance only brought problems to Astana: players that performed really well are getting offers from rich clubs. During the offseason all foreign players of Astana changed but Emil Rajkovic – the best coach of season 2018/19 – stayed in team. His new roster is getting examined in games against grand clubs – UNICS and Lokomotiv. Club with big budgets are also getting through structural changes. Lokomotiv is entering this season with new roster and new coach. Goals stayed the same – top places in the league. Both clubs are now in search, so any surprises can happen.
It is going to be only the second game in the season for Astana. That is rather a disadvantage, because they lack chemistry and practice. On the other hand, Lokomotiv played with Venice on Wednesday (77:63) and didn’t have much time to prepare for away game. Overall it is going to be the third game on the road for Lokomotiv and fourth game in 10 days.
At the start of the season, Astana have some difficulties with roster. Club entered the season with 4 foreign players. The media spreads rumours that Coty Clarke can change the team within days. Rajkovic said that their roster is not at a full strength and they need some more players, because it is difficult to compete in such a league with 4 foreign players in roster. Also he claimed that he is looking for players from a free agent market.
A hope of Lokomotiv is now in Kazakhstan
Astana didn’t want to wait long with signing new players and on Thursday “blew up” the whole transfer market with signing Isaiah Whitehead. What makes this situation tough is the fact that Isaiah Whitehead played not only in NBA but also in Lokomotiv. Ex-Brooklyn player moved to Lokomotiv in 2018 to become a new team leader but it didn’t worked out. He played 8 games in league and was scoring 11,6 points and 3,3 assists per game. In the January 2019 his contract was cancelled and he moved to Detroit.
During the first game Astana failed in rebounds 27 – 42. This dominance of UNICS lead to the fact that they got 11 second chance points and Astana didn’t manage to get any.
Lokomotiv in the first match against Tsmoki rebounded 42 times (31 by Tsmoki) and outmatched Tsmoki Minsk in second chance points 13:5. In Wednesday game against Venice they again were excellent on the backboard 44:32. Johnny O’Bryant and Alan Williams at the start of the season are really good at rebounds, and they are backed by Samuel Dekker. The Americans are ready to provide Lokomotiv with dominance at this important point of the game.
Duel of Jeremiah Hill and Dmitry Kulagin. Astana looks like an unpredictable team, in which any player can become a star. It is already obvious that Emil Rajkovic is using Jeremiah Hill in almost all game schemes: he is one of the main creator (6 assists against UNICS) and gets more possessions than anybody else in the team to take more threes. Dmitry Kulagin had eyes surgery in the offseason and hadn’t recovered by the world cup in China. But he managed to get in a good fit at the start of the season. In the new Lokomotiv’s roster main players are Russians with good chemistry. Dmitry is a leader of this group of players. In three games he scored more than 14 points (15,6 in average) and also was good at rebounds (3,3) and at passing the ball (5,0)