When Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade guard Jordan Loyd did a preseason vlog on EuroLeague.net, he singled out CSKA Moscow as the team he was most looking forward to playing against this season. Loyd's reason was that he missed both games against the reigning EuroLeague champions last season when he played with Valencia Basket.
He finally got his chance to play CSKA on Thursday night and the result was a game that no Zvezda fan will forget any time soon. Loyd fought foul trouble to score a career-high 31 points – the most by any EuroLeague player so far this season – in Zvezda's thrilling 86-84 overtime win. In so during, he raised his league-leading scoring average to 23.8 points.
"It's never about the numbers for me," Loyd said after Zvezda's second win over CSKA this century. "I'm more satisfied with guys like Duop [Reath] playing, coming in ready. M.J. [Marko Jagodic-Kuridza] playing. I'm just so excited for the guys and happy with the win."
Reath came up with a key block with 33 seconds left in overtime, while Jagodic Kuridza had 11 points and 6 rebounds and some clutch plays late in the game. However, it was Loyd who lifted Zvezda to victory, but he claimed it would have been hard to do if not for some big encouragement from his coaches and teammates.
Loyd, who scored 14 first-half points but then got into foul trouble in second half, committed his fourth foul with 9:13 left in regulation. Nonetheless, he avoided a fifth foul and had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. With the game tied at 73-73 and the ball in his hands, he settled for a contested, last-second three that barely touched the rim.
"I was pretty defeated after that last shot. It wasn't a good look," he admitted afterward. "And the whole team was like, 'Keep your head up, keep your head up. Stay positive.' And you can't do nothing but good things after that when you have encouragement."
While it seemed like a missed opportunity did not phase Loyd at all, it turned out that a team effort kept him positive. He scored 9 points in overtime, including a game-winning layup in the final minute, for Zvezda to celebrate a memorable victory.