ALBA turns tables on host Zvezda, 63-78
ALBA Berlin collected its first road victory by subduing host Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade and its crowd all night for a 63-78 decision in the Serbian capital on Friday. Zvezda came into the game with defense as its calling card but it was ALBA that shined in that department, using a 6-26 run over 12 minutes spanning the first two quarters to seize control. Zvezda managed to trim the deficit to 6 points once, but ALBA never surrendered its hold and lifted its record 2-3, the same as Zvezda. Maodo Lo led the winners with 17 points. Yovel Zoosman and Luke Sikma both added 11 points and Tamir Blatt scored 10. Ognjen Kuzmic was Zvezda's leading scorer with 16 points. Nate Wolters tallied 13 points and 5 assists, Luka Mitrovic had 11 points and 9 rebounds and Austin Hollins chipped in 10 points.
Wolters drove for the game's first score and it was 4-0 before Zoosman made ALBA's first after nearly 3 minutes. Sikma added a three-pointer and Lo's score gave the guests their first lead, 6-7. Hollins responded with a triple to put Zvezda back ahead but the hosts did not score during the last 5 minutes of the quarter and Blatt's triple had ALBA up 10-12 after 10 minutes.
After forcing 6 Zvezda turnovers in the first quarter, ALBA's defense held strong early in the second quarter as Blatt added a score and an assist for a 10-18 cushion. Hollins finally ended Zvezda's 7:14-minute scoreless rut, but the hosts remained out of sorts with 2 technical fouls and no answers on offense. Meanwhile, Lo drained free throws and a three-pointer to make it 12-28. With the support of the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall fans, Zvezda charged back on a 10-0 run in just 79 seconds thanks to a three-point play and triple from Wolters to get within 22-28. ALBA punched back with three-pointers from Louis Olinde and Lo in a 2-10 surge before heading into the break up 25-38.
Kuzmic, with 4 points, was Zvezda's only weapon after halftime until Ognjen Dobric's three-pointer made it 32-44. Kuzmic added 6 more points to make it 38-49 before Wolters got the deficit into single digits at 42-51. ALBA's answer came from Oscar da Silva. Jonas Mattisseck followed with a triple and ALBA was up 46-58 after three quarters.
Jaleen Smith buried a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter for the guests and Blatt added a triple of his own for a 48-64 cushion. Wolters got a three back only to see Smith add another triple and lift the margin to 53-69 with 5 minutes left. Zvezda just could not muster enough offense to really get back into the game the rest of the way.
Pivotal performer: ALBA's Sikma dd it all again
What would ALBA Berlin be without Luke Sikma? The team leader scored 11 points on 10 shots as one of seven ALBA scorers with at least 8 points. Sikma helped make up for ALBA's ongoing frontcourt injury issues by grabbing 7 rebounds, 3 on offense. His 3 assists tied for a team high and he also picked up 2 steals for an index rating of 16, committing just 1 turnover in 30 minutes of action.
Kuzmic, big again for Zvezda
Zvezda may have lost the game but one lesson from the game is that the team can definitely rely on Ognjen Kuzmic to produce on offense. After picking up a combined 11 points in the first three games, Kuzmic collected 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting and 7 rebounds in Round 4 against CSKA Moscow. He followed that with 16 points against ALBA. That's his highest EuroLeague scoring total since Round 23 of the 2016-17 season. The 31-year-old also had 6 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block for a performance index rating of 22, matching his output against CSKA last week.
Despite ALBA's lack of size, the guests did a good job on the glass, losing the rebound battle just 36 to 33. ALBA's 15 offensive boards were its second-best output this season. ALBA committed only 7 turnovers while forcing Zvezda into 14 and winning the points-off-turnovers category 22-8 to get some important easy baskets. ALBA's also held Zvezda to just 6-of-25 on three-pointers (24.0%). Most importantly, Zvezda came into the game having allowed opponents to score just 65.8 points per game, conceding more than 63 points just once, 78 against CSKA Moscow. ALBA matched those 78 points in the win.
Friday, October 22, 2021