Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade earned its first-ever qualification to the Top 16 with two games to play, and has done it thanks to many factors, but biggest among them – both literally and figuratively – is the competition's tallest player, center Boban Marjanovic, who leads all Turkish Airlines Euroleague players in both performance index rating (24.9) and rebounding (10.7 rpg.). Marjanovic can thank Marcus Williams, who dished the most assists (6.9 apg.) in the regular season, for some of those baskets. Youngsters Luka Mitrovic, Jaka Blazic and Nikola Kalinic filled in the blanks with all the energy any team could ask for on both ends of the floor, which resulted in the team leading the competition in rebounds and sporting one of the Euroleague’s toughest defenses.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: One can hardly talk about Zvezda without mentioning its fans, but and one can only imagine what kind of basketball celebration will be in store on January 2 for the team's Top 16 debut when mighty Real Madrid visits the Serbian capital. Madrid holds a 7-3 all-time head-to-head record against Zvezda, which has beaten its first Top 16 opponent only once in the past 41 years, a 100-81 victory in the 2006-07 Eurocup regular season clash. But all those numbers won't mean much – neither for players nor the fans – on the first Friday of the new calendar year.
GOING FORWARD: Zvezda was impressive on the road during the regular season, winning a pair of games, while losing three in dramatic fashion, but its home court, Kombank Arena, has provided for the edge it needs. This team simply feeds off that energy from the stands to elevate its game and keep the level up. That's likely not going to change in the Top 16. With Marjanovic and Williams expected to keep producing, this young and athletic squad plans to keep running the court, and the team's sixth man - its fans - assure that Crvena Zvezda will be just as tough in 2015!