The Spahija effect: Transformed Baskonia routs Red Star

2021-11-16T22:11:35+00:00 2021-12-07T21:28:56+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

16/Nov/21 22:11

Baskonia delivered a powerful game one day after a head coach change.

By Eurohoops team/

24 hours after Neven Spahija replaced Dusko Ivanovic at the helm of Baskonia, the team put on arguably its best performance this season to crush Crvena Zvezda 93 – 74 and snap a four-game skid in EuroLeague.

The trio of Steven Enoch (season-highs 23 points, 11 rebounds), Rokas Giedraitis (21 points, also a season-best) and Wade Baldwin (14 points) scored in double figures for Baskonia. The latter had 12 of his points in the first half, where Baskonia dominated 55 – 32, dismantling one of the strongest defenses in EuroLeague.

“I feel like it’s all coming together,” Enoch said. “It’s just a matter of time. I always just try to control what I can. Don’t worry about what I can’t control. Just go out there and play my best. I feel like we had a mentality where we knew we had to go out there and just figure it out. And that’s how we have to carry out each game as we move forward. [Coach Spahija] gave us the freedom and told us to just go figure it out. He didn’t give us too many rules to follow. Our talent showed, and our hard work showed. I’m proud of everybody.”

After getting overwhelmed 30 – 11 in the second period, Red Star delivered a reaction after the break and outplayed its hosts 13 – 21 in the third quarter. It wasn’t enough to threaten Baskonia that cruised to a comfortable win behind an offensive display of 22-33 2-pointers and 12-28 triples on the back of 27 assists.

Nikola Ivanovic registered EuroLeague career-highs 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead Zvezda overall. Maik Zirbes scored 12 while Ognjen Dobric and Austin Hollins had 11 points apiece for the Serbian team that was coming off a ABA League win over archrival Partizan Belgrade Sunday (14/11).

Red Star coach Dejan Radonjic didn’t see the usual defensive aggressiveness from his guys.

“Congrats to Baskonia for the win,” Radonjic said. “They played a really good game. From the beginning, it was clear that we were playing without any energy. We were very soft defensively. We had problems with our focus. They took advantage of it and the game was over after 20 minutes. One more time, congrats to Baskonia for the win.”

A new start

Baskonia has a new head coach and Neven Spahija hopes that the team will continue to improve the more familiar the players get with his philosophy.

“I would like to congratulate our team for the great reaction and the win,” Spahija said. “I think they got the right message in the locker room and they played with their heart and their talent. The first half was exceptional, outstanding. And I understood that it would be really difficult to play with the same pace and rhythm in the second half. But in the end we won.”

“I saw some talent,” Spahija added. “I saw some possibility to play at both ends of the court. The players reacted today. We made some threes, and also I have to give them credit for the defense. We will go step by step. We have to learn about the players and my system. Let’s work on my way and respect the talent and possibility for what they can do. And we will see.”

Photo: EuroLeague Basketball