Crvena Zvezda “Red Star” Telekom Beograd has completed its sweep of its Adriatic league Finals series with Mega Leks to retain the championship. A low-scoring third game saw the Serbian powerhouse cap off its dominant post-season run with a 49-61 victory. It was a pleasant turn of events for the Belgrade franchise, which had the weight of their historic 2014-15 season on their shoulders. With Buducnost leading the way throughout this regular season and looking they were the “team to beat” this year, it appeared that new champions would be crowned. Unfortunately for Buducnost, they fell to Mega Leks in the semis. On the other end of the bracket, Crvena Zvezda built some much needed momentum with their 2-0 sweep of Croatian club Cedevita Zgreb. They may not have ended atop of the standings when the regular season wrapped up, but Red Star’s undefeated run in the playoffs reaffirms their strength as the top team in the region once again.
Red Star’s Stefan Jovic finished with only three points in this game, but the 25-year-old guard was honored with the Most Valuable Player Award of the Playoffs. His playmaking skills were instrumental in taking Crvena Zvezda this far in Finals. He had 11 points and nine assists in Game 1, and nine points and nine assists in Game 2.
This Game 3 was all Red Star, all the way. The red and white shirts jumped to a 16-24 lead at the end of the first quarter, led by the efforts of Quincy Miller who accounted for 10 of those 24 points on the board. Mega Leks fought back in the second frame and ended the first half trailing Crvena Zvezda by only three points, 34-37.
The reason for the low total score can be pinpointed to the third quarter. Both teams stepped up their defensive efforts after coming out of the halftime break. Red Star limited Mega Leks to six points in the period, and likewise were able to put up just nine points of their own. The fourth and final quarter saw Red Star at their best as they controlled the tempo of the game.
In 2015, they were dominant thanks to their up-tempo offense. This 2016 Red Star had a new roster, but made the necessary adjustments to switch their focus on defense. It worked brilliantly for them and clearly paid off. They got 14 steals this game and saw their opponents commit 26 turnovers. Excellent play and a well deserved win for Red Star.