Baskonia's defense stops Zvezda
KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz bounced back from recent losses by topping Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 71-56 at Fernando Buesa Arena on Thursday. Both teams now have a 10-16 records in the standings. Toko Shengelia led the winners with 18 points, Shavon Shields added 15 and Michael Eric had 10 for Baskonia. Vladimir Stimac paced Zvezda with 13 points, Kevin Punter added 12 and Lorenzo Brown had 10 for the visitors. Shengelia paced Baskonia early in the game, getting help from Shields and Matt Janning to give the hosts a 21-15 lead after 10 minutes. Baskonia found a new go-to guy in Eric, who had 8 points late in the first half to boost his team's margin to 39-28, at halftime. Shields and a dominant Ilimane Diop helped Baskonia keep a double-digit margin, 54-43, after 30 minutes and Baskonia kept rolling and sealed the outcome long before the final buzzer.
Billy Baron got Zvezda going with a three-pointer and Stimac dunked for a 0-5 lead. Semaj Christon stepped up with a floater that Baron erased with an electric driving layup. Shengelia struck from downtown and Shields soon gave Baskonia its first lead, 8-7. Stimac scored down low and Marko Jagodic-Kuridza added a catch-and-shoot jumper, but Shields and Shengelia kept the hosts in charge, 13-11. Shields kept pacing Baskonia with a layup that Brown erased with a mid-range jumper. Youssoupha Fall scored in the paint and Janning added a three-pointer, but Punter answered with a jumper that brought Zvezda within 21-15 after 10 minutes. Shengelia buried another triple early in the fourth quarter, but Michael Ojo scored around the basket and Punter added a driving layup to make it 24-19. Shengelia scored in the low post and fed Shields for a layup that prompted the visitors to call timeout at 28-19. Kalin Lucas sank a floater and Punter did better with a three-pointer that brought Zvezda within 28-24. Eric rescued Baskonia with a wild put-back slam and a layup, but Punter struck from beyond the arc for a 32-27 Zvezda deficit. Eric stayed on fire with another put-back basket and a great assist to Zoran Dragic, allowing Baskonia to take a double-digit lead, 39-28, at halftime.
Branko Lazic and Christon exchanged three-pointers soon after the break. Marko Jagodic-Kuridza sank a jumper off a pick-and-pop play and Brown scored in transition to make it 42-35 Zvezda. Shields stepped up with a driving basket that Brown improved with a triple. Shengelia downed a jumper and Diop added a tip-in, giving Baskonia fresh air at 48-41. Diop got help from Shields to restore a 54-43 lead after 30 minutes. Diop scored again early in the fourth quarter as Zvezda kept struggling to score against the hosts' suffocating defense. Meanwhile, Shengelia buried a three-pointer and added a layup that broke the game open, 62-45, with less than 6 minutes left. Little changed after that, as Baskonia kept full control of the game until the final buzzer.
Shavon Shields played one of his best games of the season, helping Baskonia in many ways. He finished the game with 15 points on 7-of-9 two-point shooting plus 6 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and 5 fouls drawn for a game-high PIR of 23.
Michael Eric took matters into his own hands late in the first half, making the difference in the game with his intensity and effectiveness. He ignited the crowd with a big one-handed slam, added a layup, a put-back basket and an assist to Matt Janning for a layup. He allowed Baskonia to get its first double-digit lead, 39-28, and Baskonia went on to dominate the game.
Baskonia outrebounded Zvezda by 37-31 and forced its opponents into making just 5 of 25 shots from beyond the arc (20%). Zvezda has made 10 of 47 three-point shots against Baskonia this season (21.3%) and 179 of 508 (35.2%) against everyone else.
Did you notice?
Vladimir Stimac's late free throws with 3 seconds remaining saved Zvezda from having a EuroLeague season-low scoring mark. Baskonia, Real Madrid, FC Bayern Munich and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul all scored 55 points throughout his season. It is Zvezda's worst scoring night this season, 56 points, and its fourth-lowest ever; it had 53 points against Khimki Moscow Region on October 30, 2015, and 54 points twice - in 2017 and 2018.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action early next week - on Wednesday, March 4. Zvezda visits Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and later that evening Baskonia visits FC Bayern Munich.
Thursday, February 27, 2020