Diallo helps Monaco hold off Zvezda in tight battle
AS Monaco held off Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 70-62 in a close battle in the principality on Tuesday night. Monaco raced into a double-digit lead early in the second quarter but Zvezda used a 0-10 run to get back into the game, and it was 41-36 at half-time. The visitors started the second half strong to briefly move ahead, but Monaco battled back and led throughout a fiercely contested but low-scoring fourth quarter. The excellent Alpha Diallo led Monaco all over the court with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Donatas Motiejunas added 14 points and 8 rebounds, and Danilo Andjusic scored 12. Nate Wolters paired 18 points with 5 assists for Zvezda, Nikola Kalinic scored 14 and Ognjen Kuzmic had 10. Monaco improves to 3-3, while Zvezda – which only scored 9 points in the fourth quarter – drops to 2-4.
Diallo netted the first field goal and Andjusic added a triple, but Kuzmic scored Zvezda’s first 4 points to make it 5-4. Kalinic briefly gave Zvezda its first lead, but Andjusic hit another triple and added free throws for a 12-10 lead. Diallo scored twice as Monaco stretched the lead, and Yakuba Ouattare struck from deep for a 21-12 lead at the end of the first. Donta Hall extended the lead to double digits with a big dunk, before Wolters hit back with a three-point play. Leo Westermann made a threeball and Hall added a layup-and-one for a 29-17 lead, but Ognjen Dobric kept Zvezda alive with two inside strikes. Kuzmic also scored again, Wolters netted another and-one and Austin Hollins hit from deep, pulling it back to 29-27 with a 0-10 run. Hall again dunked hard to keep Monaco in front, and Motiejunas netted inside for a 35-30 lead. Wolters scored in transition, but Diallo went coast to coast before Maik Zirbes and Paris Lee scored close to the basket, making it 41-36 at the break.
Zvezda scored the first 9 points of the second half to go ahead as Wolters stayed hot with two more baskets and Kalinic followed a triple with an inside strike. Diallo and Andjusic brought Monaco back to a 47-47 tie midway through the quarter, but a triple from Branko Lazic helped get Zvezda back ahead. Mike James scored his first points from way deep to force another tie, before Motiejunas and Andjusic made it 56-53 with ten minutes remaining. Motiejunas scored twice early in the fourth quarter to keep the hosts ahead, and after a slow spell of scoring James made a tough triple for a 63-59 lead midway through the fourth. It stayed that way as both offenses misfired until Diallo added free throws inside the final three minutes, before James was called for a technical and Kalinic scored from the line, 65-60. Wolters made it a one-possession game, before Diallo split free throws for 66-62 going into the last minute. Diallo again went to the line and made both, which proved to be enough as James scored on the final buzzer.
James climbs into top 10 all-time
The game saw Monaco scoring star Mike James suffer a rare quiet night but still climb one place to 12th in the competition’s all-time top scorers chart. His 8 points in the game – after not scoring at all in the first half – saw James advance from 2779 points to 2787, moving past Ante Tomic (2780). He is running close with two current players, Kyle Hines and Alexey Shved (who were both on 2795 points before their respective games in Round 6), to break into the top ten ahead of Milos Teodosic (2807). Felipe Reyes will be the next target, in eighth place with 3029 points.
Mitrovic overcomes old friend Radonjic
Tuesday’s two head coaches not only both hail from Montenegro, but are also close long-time friends. Monaco's Zvezdan Mitrovic and Zvezda's Dejan Radonjic were born just 17 days apart in 1970, got into basketball together in their teenage days and were subsequently twice together with Buducnost from their hometown of Podgorica with Mitrovic as an assistant coach and Radonjic a player. Tuesday’s game was their second meeting in the competition as head coaches, following a crushing 104-63 victory for Radonjic’s FC Bayern Munich over Mitrovic’s LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne in October 2019, so this was first EuroLeague victory for Mitrovic against his old friend.
Zirbes debuts again - and reaches milestone
After missing the start of the season, Maik Zirbes made his third debut for Crvena Zvezda in European competition, and also reached the milestone of 100 appearances in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. He entered the action against Monaco just before the end of the first half, and finished with 4 points in 7:45 on the floor. The center first appeared in the competition with Brose Baskets in 2012, before two seasons with Zvezda between 2014 and 2016. He also spent the 2018-18 campaign with Zvezda, making 14 appearances in the 7DAYS EuroCup.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021