Baskonia rolls past Zvezda for win in first game under Spahija
Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz celebrated the arrival of new coach Neven Spahija by snapping out of its funk with a convincing 93-74 victory at home over Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade to end a four-game losing skid. Baskonia took control of the game with a 22-4 start to the second quarter to build a 23-point lead, which was never in danger the rest of the way under the watch of Spahija, who took over from Dusko Ivanovic on Monday. Steven Enoch led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds while Rokas Giedraitis drained 5 three-pointers in scoring 21 points and Wade Baldwin IV added 14 points in helping Baskonia improve to 4-6. That is the same record now for Zvezda, which was paced by Nikola Ivanovic scoring 21 points off the bench. Maik Zirbes scored 12 points, both Austin Hollins and Ognjen Dobric tallied 11 points and Ognjen Kuzmic chipped in 10 points in the loss.
Kuzmic started the proceedings for the visitors with Giedraitis and Tadas Sedekerskis both hitting three-pointers for a 6-2 lead early. Baldwin converted a three-point play and Landry Nnoko threw down a dunk as the hosts moved ahead 16-9. Hollins and Ivanovic both hit from deep for the visitors and a second triple at the buzzer by Hollins made it 25-22 after 10 minutes.
After a Giedraitis basket to start the second quarter, Simone Fontecchio sank 3 foul shots and Giedraitis buried another three-pointer and the margin was double digits 33-22. Enoch threw down a dunk and the gap was 37-22 - forcing Zvezda head coach Dejan Radonjic to call a second timeout in the quarter. Stefan Markovic scored to finally get the guests on the board after more than 4 minutes. Baskonia was not stopping with Giedraitis and Enoch both scoring 5 points in a 10-2 run to grow the advantage to 47-26. Zvezda was able to score a bit more consistently, but Baldwin netted 5 points of his own and the hosts led 55-32 at the break.
Enoch started the second-half scoring for Baskonia while the visitors were able to produce a bit more consistently with Dobric converting a four-point play and Kuzmic adding 4 points to trim the gap to 61-42. Zvezda worked hard on defense to slow down the hosts and Zirbes scored 4 points and Ivanovic tallied the final 5 points of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 68-53 after 30 minutes.
Ivanovic’s free throw opened the final frame, but Fontecchio drained back-to-back three-pointers and Vanja Marinkovic added a triple as Baskonia led 77-59. Zvezda tried to get back into the game with 4 points from Zirbes to make it 79-65. Baskonia punched back with an Enoch dunk and a Granger three-pointer as the margin reached 84-65 with less than 5 minutes left. Hollins gave the visitors a little hope with 5 straight points and the lead was down to 86-72 only to see Sedekerskis punch back with a three-pointer to end any Zvezda hopes.
Fontecchio does a bit of everything
While Steven Enoch dominated the paint and Rokas Giedraitis was firing away from the outside, Simone Fontecchio did a bit of everything for Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. The Italian only scored 9 points, but only attempted 6 field goals. Fontecchio was second on the team in rebounds with 6 while tying Lamar Peters for a team-high 7 assists. He also collected 2 steals and drew 6 fouls for a performance index rating of 22. That was Fontecchio’s highest PIR since registering a 30 in Round 5 versus AS Monaco.
Ivanovic growing more and more in confidence
Not much went right for Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade against Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, but one of the players who really shined was Nikola Ivanovic. The guard made 8 of 13 shots - including 3 of 7 from long range - in scoring a team-high 21 points. He also grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 7 assists. That performance was good for an index rating of 27. Ivanovic set career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and PIR in his second season in the EuroLeague following the 2018-19 campaign with Buducnost VOLI Podgorica. This was the 27-year-old Montenegrin’s third straight game scoring in double figures and fourth in total this season.
Telling numbers: Baskonia doesn’t miss or turn it over
This was quite a showing for Baskonia at both ends of the court. Offensively, the Spanish side scored a season-high 93 points while committing just 5 turnovers. Baskonia also shot a blistering 66.7% on two-pointers as well as a solid 42.9% on three-pointers. And the team dished out 27 assists. Defensively, the 74 points were the second-fewest Baskonia has allowed in a game this season - bested only in the team’s 78-66 victory over AS Monaco in Round 5.
Tuesday, November 16, 2021