Credit: KK Crvena Zvezda
Credit KK Crvena Zvezda

Crvena Zvezda Belgrade defeated Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 83-55 (14-19, 18-16, 32-8, 19-12) in the opening game of the Magenta Cup tournament. But the Serbian team lost Aaron White, who left the game at the end of the third quarter after a scary fall under the basket.

Aaron White opened the score with a quick 2-point baseline jumper. He later added two more points with a putback dunk, which briefly kept the Serbian team in front. But midway through the first, Panathinaikos found some success from a 3-point range. Perry, Kaselakis, and Papapetrou hit from deep and Athens went on a 7-0 run. Red Star couldn't buy a long-range basket, as they mostly stayed in the game with post-up plays and free throws. The first quarter ended with Panathinaikos up by five (19-14).

The Greek team continued to increase its lead at the beginning of the second quarter. But the Serbians slowly got acclimated and started to cut their deficit. With 4:08 left to play, Austin Hollins scored a tough layup, which prompted Dimitris Priftis to call a timeout (28-24).

Panathinaikos responded with a set play that led to Papagiannis dunk. However, both teams displayed sloppy play as one sequence involved Kaselakis, White turnovers and Okaro White offensive foul. Teams went into overtime with a score of 35-32.

Crvena Zvezda came out storming after halftime. They started the frame 14-4 to take over the lead 46-39 midway through the third. After Nikola Kalinic's fastbreak point, Belgrade's lead grew to double-digits, forcing Panathinaikos to call a timeout once again (52-41).

Crvena Zvezda's Aaron White had a scary moment at the end of the third. The power forward dunked on a fast break but hung on the rim too long and his momentum carried him to fall awkwardly. The player was bloodied instantly and it appeared that he jammed his wrist. After a long pause, medical personnel came out with stretchers, but White was able to leave the floor on his own power.

The loss of one of their leaders didn't disturb Crvena Zvezda's focus. The Serbian team finished the quarter 32-8, seemingly putting the game out of Panathinaikos' reach.

Panathinaikos weren't able to mount any sort of comeback in the final quarter. Crvena Zvezda even increased their lead and won a game by a large margin. 

Crvena Zvezda: Nikola Kalinic 13, Nikola Ivanovic 12, Luka Mitrovic 11, Aaron White 9.

Panathinaikos: Leonidas Kaselakis 13, Vassilis Kavvadas, Kendrick Perry 8.

Nikola Kalinic, who scored 13 points, said that the energy, which Crvena Zvezda were lacking to begin the game, was the most important thing. "We picked up our defense, we started being on their passing lanes, play tougher, controlled the rebounds. After that, we had some easy points in transition."

Prior to the game Panathinaikos head coach Dimitris Priftis said on a TV broadcast that the victory was important, but his team was also trying to build its system and understanding between players. It appears that the Greek powerhouse has still lots to improve. 

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