EuroCup Basketball: Playing for First Place in Belgrade


Tomorrow’s EuroCup basketball confrontation pits the AS Monaco Roca Team against Red Star Belgrade. The teams will meet on the Pionir hardwood in Belgrade Wednesday night at 7 PM.

What’s at stake

Red Star Belgrade currently occupy first place in the EuroCup Group A standings, with Monaco trailing in a close second. The leaders are unbeaten at home (3-0), while Monaco is unbeaten on the road (3-0). Even though the Roca Team’s unbeaten streak was ended last week against Brescia, the duel promises to be an electric one.

Beyond the obvious implications, the match holds some extra importance for Roca Team player Elmedin Kikanovic, who played three seasons for Belgrade (2007-2010). Kika recalls the years fondly: “The Red Star fans are some of the most passionate ones in Europe. It will be very special to return to the arena.” 

Defense / Offense

Though the matchup places the European competition’s second and third best defenses against each other (72.7 ppg and 73.8 pts ppg respectively), expect strong offensive performances from both sides of the floor. Monaco’s Yakuba Ouattara is averaging 13.5 ppg while shooting over 43% from beyond the arc. Belgrade’s Billy Baron has similar statistics, averaging 14.2 ppg with an impressive 46% from three.

Strategy on the floor

Keys to the match for Monaco will be to rely on its speed and rebounding. While Belgrade may hold the size advantage during certain player rotations, Monaco may thrive in transition. If players can push the tempo and get up the floor early on the fast break, Belgrade will certainly feel the pressure.

The Red Star team is known for forcing opponents into tough shots as well as their impressive offensive rebounding. Their 14 offensive boards per game are the best in EuroCup play this season. If the Roca Team can reduce this number, they will have a fighting chance on Wednesday night.

The last time these teams met was in early October. Monaco narrowly lost to Belgrade 66-63. It was Monaco’s first loss of the season.