The Eternal Derby recently marked another major landmark game between the rival clubs. Both teams clashed in the Adriatic or ABA League last night and it was a game of epic proportions. It was of grave importance not only because of the team pride at stake, but because it was one for the history books, literally. Coming into the game Red Star was on a team-best, 20-game winning streak to start the 2016-17 season. It tied Partizan’s all-time best streak. Despite Red Star’s recent dominance of the league, Partizan is the all-time winningest club in ABA history, so yes, there was a lot of extra pressure on the players’ shoulders for this one. At the end, it would be Partizan that would prevail 86-81, preventing Crvena Zvezda from eclipsing their historical streak.
Crvena Zvezda still holds the top spot with their 20-1 record and are a shoe-in to make the playoffs. Whether they make it as the top seed still remains to be seen, however, it would take a meltdown of massive proportions for them to squander their four-game lead over their closest competition.
The win secures Partizan’s second place in the league standings. They are now 16-5. Croatian powerhouse, Cedevita Zagreb is hot on their tails, being just one game behind (15-6), and recently climbing up to third place.
The game was tightly contested, but it would be Partizan that would hold on to a slim, 21-17 lead at the end of the first frame. It would not last long as Red Star would erase it by the end of the first half. And just like that, the game was all tied up at 46-46 after two quarters.
The third quarter would see Crvena Zvezda take control of things and they managed to put up their own five-point edge, with the fourth and final period left to decide the outcome.
Charles Jenkins of Red Star would miss two important free throws in the dying minutes of the game, then William Hatcher scored on the other end to lift Partizan 83-78. With ice in his veins, he would then knock down a clutch three-point shot to give white shirts a much-needed buffer. Hatcher was the lead protagonist for Partizan, leading the team with a game-high 20 points. Stefan Bircevic and Vanja Marinkovic would chip in 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Luka Mitrovic led Crvena Zvezda with 14-point, 11-rebound double-double, was ejected from the game. Charles Jenkins would finish the game with 10 points and five assists, but those missed free throws really came back to haunt his team in the end. Another key factor in this game was that Ognjen Kuzmic, who has been one of Red Star’s more consistent players, was limited to eight points in this outing.
Whenever these two teams face up against each other you can expect emotions to run high. Marko Simonovic could not contain his frustration and was ejected from the game. There were also reports of fans getting into fights, something not uncommon when these clubs butt heads.
And that ends the latest chapter in the Eternal Derby. What will the next epic encounter bring?