Zvezda arrives to this game in its best moment this season as the Serbian powerhouse is on a three-game winning streak that includes victories in Kaunas and Milan. Baskonia needs to bounce back right away after consecutive losses by an average margin of 28.5 points. Billy Baron (11.8 ppg.) has been Zvezda's top scorer until now, followed by Lorenzo Brown (11.7 ppg.) and Stratos Perperoglou (10.0 ppg.), who is currently injured. Toko Shengelia (18.8 ppg.), Nik Stauskas (9.6 ppg.) and Pierria Henry (7.5 ppg.) have led Baskonia so far.
Brown has been unstoppable lately, hitting the game-winning shot against Valencia and following it up with a great performance in a road win in Milan. In the last two games, Brown has averaged 20 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and a PIR of 25. Brown faces a great on-the-ball defender in Pierria Henry, last season's 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season MVP, who has a great feel for steals and who can match Brown's intensity.
Baskonia and Zvezda have faced each other eight times in EuroLeague history. Zvezda has a 5-3 winning record against Baskonia, but the Spanish powerhouse won its last two games in the Serbian capital. Baskonia downed Zvezda 81-85 on November 23, 2017 behind 17 points from Johannes Voigtmann and 16 from Shengelia. Baskonkia won again in Belgrade by 63-70 on November 4, 2016. Shane Larkin and Rodrigue Beaubois led Baskonia with 16 points apiece.
Did you know?
Dragan Sakota and Velimir Perasovic are set to face each other for the first time as head coaches. The last time Sakota and Perasovic faced each other on a basketball court, however, was in the 1989-90 season. Perasovic played for Jugoplastika against Cibona, coached by Sakota, in the 1990 Yugoslavian League semifinals. Jugoplastika won the best-of-three series 2-1 and ended up lifting the trophy.
Keys to victory: Zvezda
Zvezda ranks 17th in scoring this season (72.5 ppg.) mainly because it ranks last in two-point shooting percentage (46.6%). Zvezda is not very effective from downtown either (33.2%) but makes up due to its great defensive numbers, allowing 75.3 points on average and forcing opponents to hit just 31.4% of their shots from beyone the arc. Zvezda needs to control the tempo, trust its defense and expect Brown to make the difference in crunch time.
Keys to victory: Baskonia
Baskonia leads the EuroLeague in offensive rebounds (12.1 orpg.) and that kind of blue-collar mentality will be needed to get a chance to win in the Serbian capital. Baskonia is struggling from beyond the three-point line (32.9%) and faces against a team with great perimeter defense. It has a size advantage in the paint with Youssoupha Fall and Michael Eric, and a difference-maker in Shengelia at power forward, so getting its big men involved will be critical for the visitors.
Stratos Perperoglou is still recovering from a knee injury.