Baskonia, too much for Zvezda in fourth straight win
TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz extended its winning streak to four games as it rolled past struggling Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 87-67 at home on Friday. Youssoupha Fall led the way with 20 points in helping Baskonia pull to an even record at 13-13 and stay within touching distance of the playoff positions. Luca Vildoza and Rokas Giedraitis each added 14 points and Achille Polonara picked up 12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks in the victory. Zvezda has now lost six games in a row and seven of its last eight road games to fall to 7-19 despite Jordan Loyd tallying 14 points and Corey Walden scoring 10 points.
After Polonara opened the game with the first 4 points, Loyd got Zvezda on the board. The hosts used their height advantage and fed Fall for 8 points in building a 14-3 lead. After Fall went to the bench, Zvezda was able to score more consistently as Loyd picked up 6 points to make it 21-16 after 10 minutes.
Tadas Sedekerskis and Tonye Jekiri started the second quarter with put-back dunks for Baskonia before Marko Jagodic-Kuridza got Zvezda on the board. After Jekiri added 4 more points, Giedraitis drained a triple and both Fall and Luca Vildoza converted three-point plays in a 19-2 run to go ahead 46-22. Loyd countered with 5 points but Zvezda went into the locker room down 48-27. Dejan Davidovac gave Zvezda a strong start to the second half with back-to-back three-pointers to cut the deficit to 15 points, at 48-33. Giedraitis and Vildoza answered from deep to re-establish a 21-point gap. Fall hit a pair of baskets that pushed the margin to 61-37. Baskonia failed to score for 3 minutes and Ognjen Dobric converted a four-point play as the guests were within 63-48. But Pierria Henry ended the third quarter with a three-point play for a 66-48 advantage. Walden's three-point play started the final quarter and Ognjen Kuzmic trimmed the gap to 67-53. Zvezda refused to go away with Walden's next and-one making it 71-58 with under 7 minutes left. But Alec Peters drained a triple and Polonara threw down a breakaway dunk for a 76-58 advantage with under 6 minutes left. Vildoza added a triple as the lead swelled to 81-61 and left no doubt that Baskonia would grab the win.
Youssoupha Fall was unstoppable for Baskonia. The big man scored a career-high 20 points, making 9 of 12 two-pointers and 2 of 4 free throws to go with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks for an index rating of 23. The only way to slow him down was fouls as he was held to less than 16 minutes on the floor due to four personal fouls.
Zvezda undermanned despite Walden return
Zvezda's task against Baskonia wasn't any easier as the Serbian side was still undermanned. Corey Walden did return after missing the last two games because of COVID-19. But Langston Hall, Landry Nnoko, Duop Reath and Quino Colom were all unavailable.
Baskonia out-rebounded Zvezda 41-31 including 13 offensive rebounds, allowing for an 18-8 advantage in second-chance points. The hosts also committed just 7 turnovers and enjoyed a 14-6 margin in points off turnovers.
Baskonia will hope to extend its winning streak to five games when it hosts Olympiacos Piraeus on Wednesday, March 3. Zvezda aims to get back to its winning ways at home as it hosts FC Bayern Munich the previous night.
Friday, February 26, 2021