Loyd powers Zvezda past Baskonia
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade eased to its first victory of the season by blasting aside TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz with a 90-73 home win. A hard-fought first half saw the host maintain a slender advantage through tough defense, but it soon became a different game as Zvezda scored the first 8 points of the second half to move into a double-digit lead. It was never close again and the result leaves both teams with a 1-1 record. Jordan Loyd led the way with a career-high 30 points on 5-of-8 three-point shooting, and Marko Simonovic added 4 triples in his total of 16 points. Langston Hall orchestrated the home team’s offense with 11 assists, and Ognjen Kuzmic approached a double-double with 8 points and 8 rebounds. Rokas Giedraitis shone for Baskonia with a personal best 26 points on 6-of-11 three-point shooting, Luca Vildoza added 13 and Achille Polonara scored 10.
Loyd’s deep strike and a driving layup from Simonovic opened the scoring, and Kuzmic kept Zvezda flowing. Baskonia’s first field goal finally came from Giedritis’s fastbreak layup, but Loyd’s mid-range jumper made it 9-4. Polonara struck from deep and then inside to briefly tie the game, before 4 straight points from Corey Walden and threeballs from Duop Reath and Ognjen Dobric moved Zvezda back in front, 19-11. Vildoza struck from deep and Pierria Henry scored off a steal, but Hall beat the first quarter buzzer to make it 23-16 after ten minutes. Giedraitis started the second quarter with a three-pointer but Kuzmic kept Zvezda moving. Three-pointers from Loyd and Walden kept Zvezda ahead despite a pair of baskets from Alec Peters, and Branko Lazic’s long two made it 33-25. Vildoza banked in a mid-range jumper and Tadas Sedekerskis added a tip-in, but Hall added a triple and it was 36-31 at the break. Zvezda made a hot restart from the break through Kuzmic from inside and Loyd from deep. Further threes from Simonovic and Loyd made it 50-36, and red-hot Simonovic added another pair of triples as the Zvezda stayed comfortable. Giedraitis scored 5 fast points to keep Baskonia hoping, but Dejan Davidovac and Marko Jagodic-Kuridza scored inside to extend the lead to 60-43. Loyd’s layup-and-one protected the advantage, and Jagodic-Kuridza beat the third quarter buzzer for a 65-49 lead with ten minutes remaining. Giedraitis knocked down a couple of triples early in the fourth but Loyd, Kuzmic and Davidovac made sure there was no real threat of a fightback. Loyd added a smooth mid-range jumper and Simonovic’s fourth triple made it a 20-point game to seal the deal despite another late flurry from Giedraitis.
Zvezda leads all the way
Zvezda scored the first two baskets for a 5-0 lead and was in front by more or less the same amount throughout the first half. Baskonia came back to tie the game for 20 seconds but was otherwise trailing by more than 2 but less than 8 until the break. The second half was a different story as Zvezda hit the accelerator and then cruised.
Baskonia struggles from long range
Baskonia constantly looked to outside shooting in the opening minutes, attempting 6 three-point attempts in the opening 5 minutes. But only one of those was made – by Achille Polonara – and the visiting team continued to struggle from distance by making only 12 of 33 (36.4%) of three-point attempts despite Giedraitis shooting 6-of-11.
Simonovic and Loyd light it up
In contrast to Baskonia’s long-range shooting difficulties, Zvezda took the game away from Baskonia early in the second half with a blistering run of 5 three-pointers in 4 minutes. Marko Simonovic made three of those, with Jordan Loyd adding the other two to put the game firmly under the home team’s control. Zvezda ended up making 13-of-25 three-pointers (52%).
Baskonia returns home to welcome unbeaten Zenit St Petersburg in Round 3 next Tuesday, while Zvezda stays in Belgrade to face Zalgiris Kaunas on the same evening.
Friday, October 9, 2020