Crvena Zvezda MTS Beograd takes Game 1 of their finals series in the ABA League against KK Cedevita Zagreb 88-66. It was a game befitting the talent and tenacity of the teams competing for Adriatic gold.
Cedevita seized the early initiative and rushed to an amazing 16-27 lead at the end of the first frame. True to form, the defending champions did a complete 180-degree turn starting in the second period. They turned up their high-pressure defense and were able to control the tempo of the game from there. After the tide switched over to the red and white shirts, the score wound up at a tight 45-44 as both teams walked off the court for the halftime break.
When they returned Crvena Zvezda had fully shaken off their slow start and maintained an ironclad grip on the game. The intense team play they have become known for during their amazing undefeated streak in the regular season came into play. Unselfishness was the name of the game for them and like the tried and tested recipe for success that they have employed in the past, Red Star held on for the win in the end.
While the emphasis was on their team effort, special mention has to go to Red Star’s Charles Jenkins who was an important catalyst in getting their offense going. He ended the night with a game-high 20 points and five assists. He knocked down more than half of his team’s 3-pointers (4-of-6), which helped force Cedevita to spread out its defense as a reaction. Ognjen Kuzmic also played well with 14 points and five rebounds.
Cedevita showed in the first quarter that they can deliver some stunning plays on the offensive end. They just need to figure out a way to maintain their composure in the light of Crvena Zvezda’s stifling defense.