ALBA Berlin repels late comeback bid to upset Crvena Zvezda

2024-01-25T22:02:57+00:00 2024-01-25T23:36:46+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

25/Jan/24 22:02

An early 22-point lead makes enough space for ALBA Berlin against Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet

By Eurohoops Team/

Overcoming a late 11-2 sprint reducing the advantage to five points, ALBA Berlin held on for the win in Round 23 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season.

Rejecting the comeback bid of Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet, the team coached by Israel Gonzalez snapped a four-game losing streak in Mercedes-Benz Arena and prevailed, 89-80, on Thursday.

Shortly after the separation peaked at 22 points, recent signing Javonte Smart reduced the deficit to 18 points at the end of the third quarter. The ensuing rally fell short.


Efficient rebounding and solid defense created the big lead. Yanni Wetzell pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. Adding 11 points and four assists raised the 27-year-old New Zealander forward forward to a game-high performance index rating of 21. “We are playing fun basketball. We are rebounding and getting out in transition. The ball is moving pretty well,” he described the team effort.

“I am happy because we won the rebounds against such a good team,” Spanish play-caller Gonzalez referred to 42 versus 35 boards after guiding his side to 5-18, “This was very good to improve our defense as well.”

Draining five triples in a team total of 10/27, Matt Thomas drew up a team-high 19 points. “I think we are just starting to play better basketball,” noted the former Iowa State standout, “All the work that we have put in all season is just starting to show.”

Italian prospect Gabriele Procida added 17 points, including ten in the second period with the ALBA outscoring the visitors, 33-20. Sterling Brown followed with 12 points, besides extending his streak of three-pointers across all of his 19 appearances in the EuroLeague.

The reigning champions of Serbia were hoping to inch closer to the Play-In zone but instead fell to 9-14. Brazilian import Yago Dos Santos recorded a game-high 20 points. Rokas Giedraitis finished with 15 points against his former team and Smart had 14 points.

“In the last quarter, we tried to come back. We made it to five points. We had an open shot. But this is not enough to win away,” mentioned head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos.

Thiemann exits due to injury

After hurting his back with 6:49 remaining in the third quarter, Johannes Thiemann did not return. The home side’s leading scorer was limited to 0/5 field goals and two points over 16 minutes. Kresimir Nikic sat out alongside injured teammates Ziga Samar (foot) and Louis Olinde (head). Jonas Mattisseck suited up but did not play.

Ahead of initial projections, Nemanja Nedovic was cleared for action. The 32-year-old point guard lasted 12 minutes, registering seven points in Berlin. Milos Teodosic (hamstring) and Nikola Topic (knee) were out for the team based in Belgrade, plus healthy scratch Dalibor Ilic. Stefan Lazarevic stayed on the bench.

Eternal derby and two-game week

Before the next double-game week of Europe’s premier club competition, hosting Valencia on Tuesday and FC Barcelona on Friday in Belgrade, Zvezda collides with archrival Partizan Mozzart Bet in Round 18 of the AdmiralBet ABA League Regular Season on Sunday. A league-high 15-2 record shapes a distance of two games from the team coached by Zeljko Obradovic.

The Albatrosse travels to Olympiacos on Tuesday and returns to the capital of Germany to face Valencia on Thursday. The next domestic challenge is visiting Wurzburg Baskets and looking to go up to 11-4 in the easyCredit BBL on Sunday.

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