Famed Serbian powerhouse Crvena Zvezda Belgrade (Red Star) has been crowned the champion of the Adriatic League after overcoming Cedevita Zagreb in the finals series. Since the ABA formed in 2001 the club has never held the trophy aloft and has had endure as arch rival Partizan Belgrade was crowned king of the Adriatic six times.
However, this was the moment of Crvena Zvezda Belgrade as they downed Cedevita 79-89 on the road in Game 4 to win the series 3-1. Indeed, it has been the Serbian clubs year this season; a solid Euroleague performance has been bettered by the clubs’ formidable form in the Adriatic League. A 24-2 run through the Regular Season saw Crvena Zvezda head and shoulders above the competition and progress through the knockout phase has been serene.
In fact, it was almost the perfect finals series too, but Croatian club Cedevita Zagreb upset the odds to claim a 72-62 win in Zagreb through Game 3. The fightback was not to last though as the Belgrade club switched back on in Game 4 to seal the ABA title for the first time.
The champs were much better under the post during the contest, claiming 36 off the glass compared to 22 rebounds from Cedevita. Luka Mitrovic has stood out for Crvena Zvezda Belgrade in the play-offs and the captain of the Red and Whites was hot in the opening of this game. His scoring, rebounding, and assisting helped the visitors plunder 30 points in a high scoring first frame that ended 25-30. Mitrovic stayed hot in the second quarter while Crvena Zvezda showed skill at both ends of the floor to win the stanza 10-22 and make it 35-52 through the long break.
The damage had largely been done, but Cedevita emerged for the third act in good spirits and the team took that to the hardwood. The third was all about the Zagreb club clawing back that deficit, a feat it sort of did to make it 58-69 through thirty minutes. The deficit was still double digits though and the Serbian club simply had the skill to see out the game, despite Cedevita threatening to make it really interesting at certain points of the fourth stanza.
There is little surprise that Boban Marjanović won the ABA Playoffs MVP, the Red Star man has been in sensational form all season, currently second in scoring and first in rebounds in the Euroleague for example. By his standards Marjanović was quiet in Game 4, but still took 12 points for the winners. Charles Jenkins led Crvena Zvezda with 17 points, while Nikola Kalinic hit 12 points and 8 rebounds. For his efforts, Mitrovic scored 14 points and claimed 5 off the glass.
Cedevita Zagreb struggled for consistent high scorers, which was probably the difference in the game. Tomislav Zubcic topped the losing effort with 15 points, while Miro Bilan added 12 points.