By Nikos Varlas firstname.lastname@example.org
The home team knows that their course this year is going to come to an end when the regular season expires, but they want the win for reasons of prestige and in order to put a stop to their negative streak of four consecutive defeats, ever since their win over Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul in Round 21. They will surely seek revenge for their 83-70 defeat in Belgrade, when the two teams met the first time.
Zvezda are determined to get an away win that will bring them closer to the qualification for the playoffs! They are in seventh place now, tied with Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz and Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens, and Dejan Radonjic and his players know that every win, especially away from home, is a huge step closer to qualifying!
Two big men from the same country, Miroslav Raduljica and Luka Mitrovic, are going to go head to head in this game! Raduljica, born in 1988, is in his fourth season in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. He started out with Anadolu Efes Istanbul, then played for Partizan, Panathinaikos and, now, Milan. This year, he averages 8.2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and a performance index rating of 7.7 in 24 games and with 15.5 minutes on the floor per night.
An artist in the low post offensively, he has a big package of pivot moves and can shoot comfortably with both hands. He’s an excellent scorer for a center and has good knowledge of the basics of basketball. His lack of speed and his inability to defend well in pick-and-roll situations is the reason he has limited playing time and numbers.
Raduljica has a significant international career with the national team of Serbia in recent years, winning three silver medals in three different competitions! One in the 2009 EuroBasket, one in the 2014 World Cup, and most recently at the Olympic Games in Rio!
Mitrovic, born in 1993, plays mostly in the power forward position. He is a player with many gifts and excellent prospects. He’s also in his fourth season in the EuroLeague, all of them in the colors of Zvezda. Last year he was unlucky, as he suffered a serious knee injury and only played in four games.
This year, in 23 appearances so far and averaging 15 minutes of playing time, he tallies 4.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and a PIR of 4.5. He’s a smart big man with a good grasp of the sport who can score but also create from the post, where he has good positioning and footwork. What he needs is to get stronger and improve his long-range shooting so that he can have the whole package from the power forward’s position.
He has already charted a considerable path with Zvezda outside of the EuroLeague as well. At 24 years of age he has won two championships and four cups in Serbia and has celebrated back-to-back titles in the Adriatic League! The clash in the Mediolanum Forum is going to offer good basketball, it’s very possible that we will see a close game to the end and it might be good to keep an eye out for the offensive virtues of Raduljica and Mitrovic!