Sunday featured the hottest and fiercest rivalry in Serbian basketball as Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade welcomed Partizan NIS Belgrade for the first clash of the Adriatic titans. The red and white team reached a relatively easy win that baffled the fans across the continent.

Free throws this season

Points made: 10,1
Accuracy: 72,1%
Place in standings: 17
Record max: 17
Record min: 4
Most made FTs: Nikola Kalinic

Basketnews' Augustas Suliauskas offers a perspective on the derby to determine the reasons behind the successful Crvena Zvezda match and the struggles of their opponent.

Coming into the game, Kevin Punter was the leader of Partizan Belgrade, averaging 19 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 22.5 PIR in the EuroCup while shooting a whopping 72.4% from the two-point territory. Zvezda's primary goal was to neutralize the former AX Armani Exchange Milan star.

The reds' plan to stop the American revolved around denying him the ball and shrinking the court when he's playing 1-on-1. Coach Zeljko Obradovic usually dials up flare screens to combat this defensive tactic, but they weren't successful this time.

Overall defensive commitment by Zvezda players allowed them to deny easy passes to Zach LeDay and forced the Partizan player to shoot ill-advised shots.

Having Punter and LeDay slowed down by the overwhelming defensive attention, Partizan needed their other players to step up.

Partizan guards, however, did not respond to the occasion, which coach Obradovic mentioned in the press conference. Lack of aggressiveness on both defensive and offensive ends limited the team's chances for a comeback.

Partizan found some success in the third quarter when they started to successfully apply Zeljko's tactics. Still, the abundance of defensive and offensive errors followed by brilliant capitalization from Zvezda ultimately killed the Eurocup powerhouse.

Fierce defense helps win games even in the most difficult of scenarios. Crvena Zvezda showed that intelligent play on the defensive end and smart situation-reading on the offensive end can take down even the hottest of rivals.

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