Crvena Zvezda wraps up second place in Group D
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade claimed second place in Group D with a 90-82 victory over Laboral Kutxa Vitoria. Marcus Williams led the way for Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists while Boban Marjanovic had 12 points and 12 rebounds, Jaka Blazic scored 11 points and Luka Mitrovic added 10 points and 9 rebounds in helping the team finish 6-4 in the group. Vitoria dropped to 5-5 and third place despite Davis Bertrans scoring 16 points, Kim Tillie collecting 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals, Mike James hitting for 13 points and Fabien Causeur adding 10 points and 5 assists in a losing effort.
First quarter: Laboral uses offensive rebounds to stay in game
Zvezda coach Dejan Radonjic made one change to his starting line-up with Mitrovic coming in for Marko Tejic alongside Williams, Nemanja Dangubic, Branko Lazic and Marjanovic. Vitoria boss Ibon Navarro also swapped one player with Fernando San Emeterio replacing Bertans in a first five with James, Colton Iverson, Causeur and Tornike Shengelia. Dangubic started the game with a dunk for the hosts and Causeur got Vitoria on the board with a layup. Mitrovic and Marjanovic gave Zvezda a a 6-2 lead, but the guests tried to get as many quick points as possible before Zvezda set up defensively with James and San Emeterio pushing forward for layups to even it at 6-6. Williams got a long three to fall and then Blazic came on for a three before Mitrovic’s fast break layup made it 14-8. But Causeur and San Emeterio both knocked down three-pointers after offensive rebounds and an inside basket by San Emeterio gave Laboral its first lead at 14-16. Blazic followed with a jumper and driving layup before James threw dunk an emphatic dunk just before the buzzer for the first quarter, which ended deadlocked at 18-18.
Second quarter: Williams scored 10 points for hosts
James opened the second quarter with a jumper and was answered by Maik Zirbes’s offensive rebound and put-back to make it 20-20. Tillie and Blazic swapped baskets for a 22-22 tie when Zvezda went cold for nearly two minutes. James’s driving layup was followed by a triple from Bertans, who also put in a layup off the glass to complete a 0-9 run to put Vitoria up 22-31. Zirbes ended the drought with a dunk and then Williams took over for the hosts with 10 of the next 13 points, hitting a long jumper and burying a three on the next possession to give Zvezda a 37-36 lead. Bertrans nailed his third three-pointer of the game to give the guests the lead again. Nikola Kalinic came up with a three-point play and a jumper, but Thomas Heurtel drained back-to-back threes for a 44-45 lead. Laboral had the ball for the final possession of the first half, but Dangubic stole the ball and dunked just before the halftime buzzer to give the hosts a 46-45 lead at the intermission.
Third quarter: 12-2 run gives Zvezda some breathing room
Causeur started the second half with a layup and the lead changed hands four more times when Tillie nailed a three-pointer from the left side for a 50-52 lead. Blazic evened it with a nice layup and the hosts began gaining control with a long three-pointer and three-point play by Williams and 4 Marjanovic free throws in a 12-2 run to make it 62-54. Bertrans and Tillie both made 2 from the charity stripe to keep the hosts from getting a double-digit lead and it was 66-58 after Marjanovic dunked in an offensive rebound. Tillie responded with a three-pointer and a steal and layup to trim it to 66-63. But Marjanovic threw down another dunk and Mitrovic made it 70-63.
Fourth quarter: Jovic sparks decisive spurt
Sasha Vujacic came off the Vitoria bench and hit a three to start the quarter and 2 Huertel free throws trimmed the deficit to 70-68. Stefan Jovic played a fine ball to Marjanvoic and then came up with a steal and layup before a Dangubic triple as the advantage grew to 9 – the biggest lead of the game thus far. Bertrans raced right back down and nailed a three, but Zvezda proved efficient on offense with Lazic and Mitrovic both making 2 free throws to keep Vitoria at 83-75 with five minutes to play. James cut it to 6 points for the last time with four minutes to play at 83-77 and Williams hit a driving layup with 1:55 minutes to play for the first double-digit lead 88-78. That was the backbreaker for good.