Crvena Zvezda, Zirbes overpower Strasbourg
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade started its season in style by routing Strasbourg 81-59 at Kombank Arena in the Serbian capital. Maik Zirbes dominated inside in scoring 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting plus 7 rebounds for the winners. Strasbourg led early, but Zvezda broke the game open with a 15-2 second-quarter run and never looked back. Luka Mitrovic added 13 points for the winners, Stefan Jovic tallied 12 points and 5 assists and Ryan Thompson scored 11. Strasbourg was plagued by the 25 turnovers it committed as well as a sub-par three-point shooting night (6 of 20, 30%). Roddy Beaubois led the visitors with 17 points, Vladimir Golubovic scored 12 and Jeremy Leloup added 11 in defeat.
First quarter: Beaubois’s 3 triples boost Strasbourg
The visitors won the opening tip and Kyle Weems scored Strasbourg’s first points of the season with a jumper. Thompson drove for a layup that got Zvezda on the scoreboard. Beaubois nailed a triple from the corner, but it was clear early that defense would be a determining factor in the contest. Gal Mekel heated up with 2 free throws and a jumper in the lane to bring his team within 1, but Beaubois drilled another three and Louis Campbell whipped an alley-oop pass to Banglay Fofana for a slam and a 6-12 lead midway through the quarter. Zirbes countered with a hook shot. Beaubois added his third three of the quarter for a 7-point cushion before Zirbes’s put-back. Thompson sliced through the Strasbourg defense for a layup, but Golubovic punished Zvezda for leaving him open at the foul when he nailed a jumper. Thompson used his cross-over dribble to create space for a three and Zirbes was open inside to close the gap to 1. After Golubovic scored inside and Zibes tipped in another shot, the quarter ended with the visitors ahead 19-20.
Second quarter: Simonovic keys game-breaking 15-2 charge
Zirbes fought for another basket inside and Jovic took a steal in for a layup and a 3-point lead. Beaubois took a pass from Romain Duport for a basket. Duport’s first basket came on a baseline jumper that tied it at 24-24. Marko Guduric fed Zirbes on the pick-and-roll for a slam. Zirbes continued to rack up points with another basket off the offensive glass. Marko Simonovic further extended the Zvezda lead to 31-24 with a three-pointer. Leloup impressed with a bank shot, but Jovic kept Zvezda in control with free throws and a triple that made it 37-26 and prompted a timeout. Mekel found Simonovic for a layup on the break that capped a 15-2 run. Campbell tried to spark the visitors with a three-pointer. Sofoklis Schortsanitis muscled his way to his first basket and Thompson soon rewarded him with another score for a 43-29 lead. Paul Lacombe sank Strasbourg’s fifth three of the game to make it 43-32 at the break.
Third quarter: Zvezda coasts as lead reaches 17
Strasbourg started to claw its way back through baskets by Weems and Beaubois, but Zvezda captain Mitrovic responded with his first points, a three-pointer. After an extended drought for both teams, Zirbes and Golubovic traded put-backs. Golubovic’s next basket made it 49-42 midway through the quarter. Zirbes stole an inbounds pass and took it in for a slam. The Jovic picked Campbell’s pocket and drove for a layup to restore an 11-point lead. Golubovic scored inside and Jovic from the line as each reached double figures in scoring. Frank Ntilikina came in for Lacombe after the latter was fouled and scored his first Euroleague point from the free throw line, but a Guduric triple and Branko Lazic steal and layup put Zvezda in total control. Leloup beat the third-quarter buzzer with a shot from beyond halfcourt to make it 62-48.
Fourth quarter: Outcome never in doubt down the stretch
Mitrovic crashed the glass for a nice layup before Lazic’s steal led to a Jovic slam. Guduric drew a foul shooting a three, made 2 of the resulting free throws and put the difference at 20. Leloup tried to trigger Strasbourg with a basket and an assist to Golubovic, but Mitrovic countered with a nice move inside to reach 10 individual points. Lacombe drove over Big Sofo for a layup, but Sofo scored at the other end before a Mitrovic triple made it 75-53. Free throws by Leloup and Beaubois trimmed the Strasbourg deficit. Thompson connected from downtown. Leloup scored before fouling out. Mekel fed Stefan nastic for the latter’s first points and the final basket of the game.
Thursday, October 15, 2015