ALBA rises above Zvezda, 93-80
ALBA Berlin led from tipoff to final buzzer to defeat visiting Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 93-80 on Tuesday in the German capital. With its second consecutive win, ALBA improved to 3-6, leaving Zvezda behind at 2-7. ALBA led by a high of 17 points twice, in the second and third quarters. Zvezda cut that difference to 79-70 midway through the fourth, but ALBA merely pulled away again to the victory. Rokas Giedraitis led the winners with 22 points, while Luke Sikma added 18, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. Martin Hermannsson posted 16 points, Niels Giffey 13 and Landry 10 for the winners. Big men Michael Ojo and Ognjen Kuzmic had 12 and 10 points, respectively, for Zvezda, while four of their teammates scored 9 each.
ALBA raced to an 8-2 lead punctuated by Hermannsson's first three-pointer of three. Kuzmic's second basked got Zvezda as close as 10-9 before Giedraitis, Hermannsson and Eriksson detonated triples for the game's first double-digit lead, 21-11. Ognjen Dobric and Ojo got Zvezda within 21-15 after 10 minutes. ALBA kept gunning with Sikma and Giffey striking from the arc as the difference soared to 29-15, prompting a Zvezda timeout. The onslaught continued to 42-25 as Giedraitis climbed into double digits and only Ojo could respond for the visitors. A trio of three-point plays shared by Kuzmic and Dejan Davidovic was all that Zvezda could do to close within 46-34 at the half. Lorenzo Brown scored the first 4 points of the third quarter for Zvezda but after a timeout, ALBA loaded up again. Giffey started a 16-7 run from deep and Jonas Mattisseck ended it that way with the hosts going up 62-45. Filip Covic and Billy Baron responded with triples, but ALBA still led 67-54 after 30 minutes. Dobric and Davidovic cut the difference to 69-59 early in the fourth but Zvezda couldn't stop ALBA from scoring at will. Nnoko and Giedraitis kept the hosts ahead 79-68 before Hermannsson returned with 5 points to lift the difference to 90-75 on the way to a much-deserved home win for ALBA.
Two in a row
ALBA grabbed its second consecutive EuroLeague victory for the first time since 2015, when it strung together three in a row, the club record, including a home win in the second game against Zvezda. The only player still around from that accomplishment is Niels Giffey, who had another good all-around performance this time. That three-in-a-row club record was originally set in the 2002-02 season and matched again in the 2012-13 season. ALBA can match it again in Round 10.
There were several big contributions for ALBA, but Giedraitis and Sikma both had the best scoring games so far in their debut EuroLeague season. Giedraitis's 22 points, including 14 by halftime, were helped by his 4 three-point strikes. Sikma missed just 1 shot from the floor in scoring 18 points and rounded out his game with 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. Both played more than 30 minutes on a team hit by injuries and their leadership was part of the mix in the victory.
ALBA's offense purred like a race-car engine all night, with no discernable dips or trouble of any kind. Its 58.3% two-point shooting (21 of 36) was ALBA's second-best rate this season and going 12-for-25 on triples made for its best accuracy (48.0%) yet from that distance. After averaging 76.3 points in its first three home games, the fans got a chance to enjoy the kind of scoring that ALBA has done more on the road.
In just 48 hours, ALBA continues the double-round week at home against Olympiacos Piraeus in Round 10 for their first game in more than 15 years. Also on Wednesday, Zvezda keeps moving north to Lithuania to visit Zalgiris Kaunas hoping to repeat an away win at Zalgirio Arena from two seasons ago.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019