Barcelona rallies to down Zvezda
Depleted FC Barcelona rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to defeat Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 65-73 at the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall in the Serbian capital on Thursday to stay perfect on the season. Barcelona improved to 4-0, while Zvezda dropped to 1-3 record. The hosts used high energy and stiff defense to open a 33-20 lead in the second quarter, but Barcelona melted the deficit before halftime and then used a 1-14 charge bridging the third and fourth quarters to pull away and never look back. Nikola Mirotic led Barcelona with 21 points and 6 rebounds, Kyle Kuric netted 15 points and Brandon Davies had 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 rebounds for Barcelona. James Gist was the only double-digit scorer for the hosts with 10 points.
Zvezda took the lead from the start with Michael Ojo and Borisa Simanic each scoring 5 points, including Simanic's triple to make it 12-6. Baskets were few and far between with tough defenses on both ends. Mirotic and Kyle Kuric had baskets for the visitors, but Perperoglou drove for a layup to make it 16-12 after 10 minutes. At the start of the second quarter, Kuric and Ognjen Dobric traded threes and then Higgins and James Gist before Perperoglou and Dejan Davidovac nailed jumpers and Mouhammad Faye a three-pointer to make it 33-20. But Mirotic and Davies strung together 10 points and Adam Hanga nailed a last-second triple to cut it to 36-33 at halftime. Lorenzo Brown took it to the basket twice at the start of the third to open a 42-35 margin, but Kuric knocked down a transition triple and Mirotic scored 7 points, including a jumper, to give Barcelona its first lead, 44-46, which the visitors never relinquished. Davies with a jumper and Kuric with a triple extended the lead to 49-57 after three quarters before the visitors opened the fourth with two close-range baskets from Tomic and a long-range dagger from Rolands Smits to make it 49-64 with 8 minutes to go. Dobric restarted Zvezda's offense and the hosts got within 57-65, but Mirotic ended the hosts' charge with a pair of baskets and an assist for a Hanga layup to make it 58-71. Threes from Gist and Faye provided Zvezda with hope, but it proved to be too little too late.
More turnovers than assists
It was that type of physical, hard-fought game which produced more turnovers than assists. The two teams combined for 39 turnovers, with Zvezda committing 21, while together Barcelona and Zvezda dished 33 assists.
Davies steps up
With Thomas Heurtel and Keving Pangos nursing injuries since the start of the season and Paul Ribas and Malcolm Delaney not traveling to Belgrade, Barcelona was without a point guard in this game. Adam Hanga and Leandro Bolmaro handled the majority of the playmaking duties with help from Cory Higgins and Kyle Kuric. However, it was Brandon Davies whose assists to find Nikola Mirotic sparked Barcelona's offense at the end of the second quarter.
Earlier than anticipated, Zvezda center Ognjen Kuzmic made his season debut, capping his miraculous return from a near-fatal car crash back in July. It took him just 60 seconds to score his lone basket of the night to the delight and ovations of the home fans.
Gavrilovic coaching debut
Andrija Gavrilovic made his head coaching debut on the Crvena Zvezda bench replacing Milan Tomic, who parted way with Zvezda earlier this week.
Next week in Round 5, Zvezda goes on the road to face Anadolu Efes Istanbul (3-1) on Tuesday. A day later Barcelona welcomes Valencia Basket (0-4) in an all-Spanish League clash.
Thursday, October 24, 2019