Zvezda keeps it home as they beat Barcelona (90:82) in Belgrade’s Aleksandar Nikolić Hall. Their steady pace was interrupted only in the 4th quarter, but they were able to keep their guests at bay in a true Euroleague derby.

Taylor Rochestie
Photo: Euroleague

Red and Whites first Euroleague appearance didn’t give fans much reason for optimism. Nevertheless, they made sure Zvezda’s first home game was played in front of a packed crowd. Over 6000 fans were supporting their team against the Blaugrana.


Both the proverbial and actual heat of Serbia’s most relevant basketball hall has melted many, and this isn’t Barcelona’s first fall on this very floor. As the new coach of the Catalans, Sito Alonso was leading his team into very difficult grounds.

Zvezda took a 20:10 lead by the end of 1st quarter, through very active offense. The players of Dušan Alimpijević continued holding their lead in the next twenty minutes.

What they were lacking in defense, they compensated by creating new opportunities in the opponent’s half. Even when, more often than not, their three pointers were falling short, Zvezda didn’t pull back. Constantly attacking instead. On the other hand, they were excellent with over 90% precision on the FT.

Photo: Euroleague

This pace was paying off for the home team, until Barcelona got dangerously close to a draw. More precise for both 2 and 3 pointers, Barca were keeping themselves afloat.

Heurtel scored a three pointer (77:76) and a minute later Hanga got his team mates off the bench with a 2p for 79:80. A small, but substantial advantage.

A short lead. Photo: Euroleague

The question remained whether or not Zvezda would let tonight be one of those “one point matches”. Luckily for everyone in Belgrade, the answer was no.

Milko Bjelica took back the lead with a beautiful 3p, and despite Heurtel bringing in another draw (82:82) Bjelica kept going. This time with a two pointer that gave Zvezda more breathing room.

It was then that Taylor Rochestie took over. One of the new faces in red and white, he took it upon himself to keep the advantage going. The remaining minute was prolonged with timeouts on both sides.

The cherry on top was placed by Rochestie with a clean two pointer and a nice, round 90 points for Zvezda.

Photo: J.L.

As expected, he is tonight’s MVP with 22p, 7 rebs and a PIR of 27. On the guest side, Thomas Heurtel scored 14p with 4 rebs and a PIR of 21.

With kids and grownups running into the court to congratulate the players, it’s these matches that bring faith and enthusiasm in players as well as fans.