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Pınar Karşıyaka vs PBC Lokomotiv-Kuban
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“In Group C the situation is getting clear with two games left to play. Barcelona, Zalgiris Kaunas, Lokomotiv Kuban, and probably Panathinaikos will advance to the TOP 16 with Pinar Karsiyaka and Stelmet Zielona Gora left outside of the TOP 16 wagon. Because of the situation in the standings, this game remains important only to one team – Lokomotiv Kuban. What has to be widely admitted about Pinar Karsiyaka this season is they have failed to replace teir leaders. The departure of Diebler, Dixon, Hersek, and Strawberry appeared to be lethal for this team that relied a lot on the perimeter shooting. Justin and Josh Carters have been disappointing in the most of Pinar Karsiyaka games, while main point guard Ragland used to be playing for himself alone and was already fired from the team more than a week ago. Finally, head coach Sarica has been lacking ideas offensively and his team way too often have looked clueless trying to score points. Pinar Karsiyaka is an offensive team by its nature and offensive struggles and the departure of scoring leaders killed it mentally. It seems that even the management of the club understood this situation well and Ragland’s departure silently showed the Turkish side wass ready to bury not only the European season but also the Turkish one. It’s a bold statement, of course, but watching Pinar Karsiyaka playing the way they’ve been doing it lately drags out gloomy thoughts out of my head. On the other hand, Lokomotiv Kuban continues their fight for the first seed in the group. They lost against Barcelona only by four points in Palau Blaugrana, which means they’ll only need to win against Barca at home to snatch the group in case they’ll defeat Pinar Karsiyaka. Lokomotiv will still be able to win the group even if they lose against the Turkish champions but in this case the next game against Barca will have to be won by 5 points at least. These calculations will only become real if Barca beats Zalgiris on Thursday but Zalgiris has been so poor on the Euroleague road games this season that it’s hard to imagine it being any other way. Anyways, Lokomotiv Kuban has got more at stake before this game against Pinar Karsiyaka, they’re more talented, better prepared tactically, and have a marginally better head coach in Bartzokas. Besides, the Russians should dominate the board here with their superior frontline power. The Russians won at home 72-53, and they defeated Pinar Karsiyaka twice in the Eurocup last year. All the above makes me predict away win by four point gap at least.”