Cedevita found an unsung hero in Keene

Oct 28, 2021 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Cedevita found an unsung hero in Keene

Faced with a strong challenge on its home floor from Mincidelice JL Bourg en Bresse in Group B on Wednesday, Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana head coach Jurica Glemac could look down his bench and count on a wealth of 7DAYS EuroCup experience.

Jacob Pullen, Jaka Blazic, Melvin Ejim, Edu Muric and Zach Auguste had played in a combined 264 EuroCup games and 224 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague games. four of them had at least four previous seasons' worth of EuroCup experience and three of them had at least two in the EuroLeague.

As it happened, however, the man who came to Cedevita's rescue had absolutely no experience at this level.

Marcus Keene, a 26-year-old guard standing all of 1.75 meters, had played much of his four-year pro career until now for teams like Mono Vampire Bangkok, KCC Egis of South Korea, or Yulon Luxgen and Formosa Dreamers of Taiwan.

In Cedevita's opening-round win at Gran Canaria a week earlier, Keene had been on the floor for 6 minutes, missing both his shots and recording a minus-5 performance index rating.

In this game, however, Keene started and proved a steady contributor, putting up 12 points as Cedevita climbed back from an early 8-18 deficit and the teams cycled through six lead changes by the early minutes of the second half.

Keene's steal and assist to Auguste was the last lead change, at 55-54, preserved when he followed it with his third three-pointer of the night. He came back with another basket to make it 63-54, giving him a hand in 7 points that decisive 10-2 run.

However, the score was still close, at 81-75, and Bourg was rallying with under 4 minutes remaining when Keene finished the job. Again, he found Auguste for a basket and, again, he followed a strike from the arc, suddenly making it a double-digit difference, 86-75, and assuring the victory.

If he was surprised by having such a big role in Cedevita's first EuroCup home win, Keene did not betray it, although he did count Wednesday's performance among his better games.

"It's one of my best games, especially at this high level, EuroCup," he said. "I just want to continue to work hard and have my teammates have trust in me and I have trust in myself to play the way I know how to play."

What a difference one week made for Marcus Keene, and what a difference he could be for an already strong and experienced Cedevita team that remains undefeated thanks in part to his unexpected showing.