Zirbes and Crvena Zvezda drop Madrid to last place
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade sent reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Real Madrid to last place in Group A with a 94-88 come-from-behind win on Friday night at Hala Pionir. Maik Zirbes starred with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting – including 15 points in the final six minutes to help Zvezda finish Madrid off. Quincy Miller shined with 24 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting, several of which came at key points in the third as Zvezda rallied from a double-digit deficit. Stefan Jovic added 12 points for the winners. The win boosted Zvezda’s record to 3-4 and part of three-way tie for third in the group. Madrid fell to 2-5. Sergio Rodriguez led Madrid with 16 points and 9 assists. Gustavo Ayon also scored 16, Trey Thompkins had 14, Felipe Reyes 12 and Andres Nocioni 11.
First quarter: Miller’s 3 threes fuel fantastic start for hosts
Zvezda won the opening tip and Jovic scored first with a foul-line jumper. Thompkins got Madrid on the scoreboard, but Hala Pionir only got louder when Zirbes scored twice in the paint. Sergio Llull’s turnover led to a Marko Simonovic layup. Miller’s triple made it 11-2 and caused Madrid to take a timeout after less than two and a half minutes. Jaycee Carroll tried to spark the visitors with a three-pointer. Ayon further trimmed the gap with a bucket inside. After Jovic split free throws, Thompkins connected from downtown to make it 12-10. Jovic countered with a jumper to keep the hosts in front. Ayon and Zirbes traded baskets. Carroll’s runner was matched by Ryan Thompson, who received credit for a layup after a goaltending violation committed by Ayon. Jovic weaved his way around the Madrid defense for a layup in transition. A pair of three-pointers by Miller gave the hosts a 10-point lead and brought the crowd to its feet. Ayon scored again, but Vladimir Stimac bucket in the final seconds of the quarter made it 28-18.
Second quarter: Rodriguez helps Madrid rally
Simonovic pushed the difference even higher with free throws. Jeffrey Taylor drove for a wicked baseline slam and Reyes scored inside, but Taylor was then called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Thompson, who made the resulting free throws to re-establish a double-digit margin. Thompson missed two subsequent three-point tries before Reyes and Nikola Rebic traded baskets. Rodriguez dribbled his way to a basket and then made free throws on the next possession to get Los Blancos within 34-28. A technical foul committed by Nocioni for flopping resulted in a Miller free throw. Reyes hit free throws, but Zibes answered with a hook and Branko Lazic took a steal in for a layup. Zirbes made it 42-30 with a dunk over Nocioni. Reyes remained a reference for the visitors with a mid-range jumper. Nocioni drained a three from the top of the key. After rejections by Zirbes and Miller, the Zvezda bench was called for a technical foul. Miller sank the free throw, but soon took a seat with 3 fouls. Reyes sank 2 free throws to bring Madrid within 6. Jovic and Rodruguez traded threes, but Rodriguez added one more from downtown to bring the visitors within 46-43 at the break.
Third quarter: Madrid takes over, Miller leads Zvezda back
Ayon’s steal and layup made it a 1-point game before Carroll’s floater gave Madrid its first lead, 46-47. Thompson briefly gave Zvezda the lead again, but Ayon hit a shot jumper and Thompkins drained a triple from the corner that made it 48-52. After a timeout, Jovic went into the heart of the Zvezda defense for a layup. But Thompkins muscled his way to a three-point play. Jovic committed a foul and then was slapped with a technical. After the 3 free throws by Llull and the resulting possession ending in an Ayon layup, Madrid’s advantage soared to 50-60. Stimac scored 3 points over two possessions, but Thompkins’s three-point play on the offensive glass kept the visitors in control. Miller got the arena rocking with a layup and a three-pointer. After Lull hit 2 from the line, Miller continued his show. First was his fifth three-pointer and then 3 free throws over two possessions to bring the hosts within 64-65. Nocioni revived Madrid with free throws and Stimac answered with a hook in the low post to end the quarter at 66-67.
Fourth quarter: Unstoppable Zirbes scores 15 in final six minutes
Miller scored in transition as Zvezda regained the lead. Nocioni connected from downtown, but back-to-back triples from Marko Guduric and Nikola Rebic brought the crowd to its feet at 74-70. Nocioni dunked on Miller and drew the Zvezda forward’s fourth foul in bring the champs within 1. Guduric continued to make noise with a bank shot-and-foul. Great passing led to a Zirbes layup for a 6-point lead, but Rodriguez promptly halved the deficit with a triple. Zirbes’s next basket made it 81-76 midway through the quarter. Reyes scored at the other end. Madrid had no answer for Zirbes, who sent a hook shot in. Llull made it a 2-point game with a three-pointer, but Zirbes threw down a monster jam and made the free throw that came with it. After stopping Ayon on defense, Zirbes’s tip-in gave the hosts a 7-point advantage. After a timeout, Rodriguez hit a three and Carroll added a jumper to bring Madrid within 88-86. Guduric faked Ayon and drove past him for a slam. Then Lazic’s steal and Zirbes’s free throws made it a 6-point lead with 28 seconds to go. Madrid missed twice from downtown and by the time Ayon scored (via goaltending) on the offensive glass, there were but 8.7 seconds left. And Zirbes iced the game from the line.
Friday, November 27, 2015