One Russian team will play the 2011 EuroChallenge Final next Sunday 28  april  2011
The first 2011 FIBA EuroChallenge semi-final to be played on Friday will be an all-Russian affair as Spartak Saint Petersburg will take on Lokomotiv Kuban.
Led by the fantastic Americano-Macedonian power forward Michael Wilkinson (204-F-81) in scoring, Lokomotiv is currently ranked second in the PBL, the Russian league. Mike Wilkinson, born in West Virginia, is a true team leader who already has an impressive international experience: Wisconsin in NCAA, Aris Thessaloniki in Greece, BC Khimky Moscow Region in Russia and Galatasaray in Turkey. Being in good terms with his mates is the key for Michael Wilkinson who also average an impressive 16.3 points per game in the 2011 EuroChallenge so far. Several other US born players have joined the Lokomotiv team of Head Coach Kestutis Kemzura: former Phoenix Suns's forward Alando Tucker (198-F-84, college: Wisconsin), top rebounder Jeremiah Massey (202-F-82, college: Kansas St., also having a Macedonian passport), Lionel Chalmers (184-G-80, college: Xavier) and Chris Lofton (188-G-86, college: Tennessee).

Add three major Russian talents like Aleksei Surovtsev (202-G-84, 3.5 assists per game so far in the 2011 EuroChallenge), Sergey Toporov (197-F-81) as well as the huge center Grigori Shukhovtsov (210-C-83) and you will understand why the Lokomotiv roster is very impressive indeed. Experienced guard Goran Jeretin (192-G-79) of Montenegro could be a crucial player for Lokomotiv too, especially if some clutch plays are needed in the semi-final.

Lokomotiv Kuban, a club located in Krasnodar, Russia, defeated BCM Gravelines of France at the quarter-final stage and finished second in the 2002 Korac Cup as well as the 2005 FIBA Europe Cup for Men. The Lokomotiv Kuban's staff hopes to reach the final again and win a title this time. To know more about the first semi-finalist, go to

Nevertheless, Russian semi-final opponents Spartak Saint Petersburg will be tough to beat. Besides US pro guards Patrick Beverley (185-G-88) and Henry Domercant (192-G-80, college: E.Illinois), several excellent European players like Serbian international center Petar Popovic (211-C-79, who played for Hemofarm Vrsac, Benetton Treviso, Crvena Zvezda, DKV Joventut and Estudiantes in the past), deaf Slovenian power forward Miha Zupan (205-F/C-82, who also played for Union Olimpija Ljubljana, Enel Brindisi and Trikalla), Macedonian forward Pero Antic (210-F-82, Euroleague experience with AEK Athens from 2001 to 2005) and former Serbian-Montenegrin star of UCLA (in NCAA) Nikola Dragovic are in the Spartak roster.

Israeli Coach Zvi Sherf would like to lead his Spartak team to the title and will count on the excellent court vision and ballhandling of Russian guard Anton Ponkrashov (ex-CSKA) to reach this dream. Ponkrashov is a fantastic stand-in when experienced Henry Domercant (in Euroleague with Efes Pilsen, Olympiakos and Montepaschi Sienna in the past) or 2008 NCAA champion Patrick Beverley (ex-Arkansas, Dnipro Dnepropetrovsk, Olympiakos and Miami Heat) sometimes get tired.

Spartak Saint Petersburg is currently ranked third in the PBL, the Russian league. Spartak qualified against Pinar Karsiyaka of Turkey at the quarter-final stage. The official web site of Spartak Saint Petersburg is

Observers surely can expect a fantastic first semi-final game as both Russian sides will do anything they can to have a first European win to their club name.

In the first 2011 FIBA EuroChallenge semi-final, Spartak Saint Petersburg will face Lokomotiv Kuban at the Sleuyter Arena in Oostende, Belgium on Friday, April 29th at 18:30.