22 April 2019 - Crvena Zvezda is the 2019 ABA League champion. The Serbian team blew out the Montenegrin side and defending champ Budućnost VOLI 97:54 in Game 5 of the Finals to win the series 3:2.
Apart from claiming the title for the fourth time in the history of the club, Crvena Zvezda also got a position in the 2019-2020 EuroLeague. Zvezda is back in the top-tier competition after losing the spot to Budućnost VOLI last season.
K.C. Rivers scored a game-high 21 points for the winning side that practically finished the game by halftime. The hosts overpowered their opponents 29:8 in the second quarter to reach 47:21 at halftime. Budućnost VOLI was unable to react and lost further ground, despite coach Jasmin Repeša’s pleas to his players to try and finish the game as best as possible.
Budućnost VOLI received a rude welcome in the arena that led to the game being delayed, although similar incidents had taken place in Game 3 in Podgorica in Podgorica.
Norris Cole commented on the hostile pregame atmosphere against his team with some statements to Eurohoops.
“That was the most unacceptable and unprofessional basketball environment. The ABA league should be ashamed of what happened tonight. They threw chairs, drinks, spit, fireworks, and other objects on to the court and their fans ran on the court disrupting our warmups to the point we had to leave the court. Totally unsafe and unacceptable. The game should not have been played. But they threatened we would forfeit the championship if we did not return to the court,” stressed out Cole.
When Budućnost VOLI players entered the court for their warmup session, various objects were hurled at them from the stands. The squad immediately turned back to return to the locker room.
“When our players set out to enter the arena, total hysteria and throwing all possible hard things happened: coins, phone batteries, stones, full bottles, broom parts, lighters, chairs. About 40 fans entered the court and came to the bench of Budućnost VOLI, they spit on and physically attacked our players. Cole, Earl Clark, and Nemanja Gordić, who was hit with a chair stolen by a fan,” reported the official statement of Budućnost VOLI.
“Podgorica fans did not run on the court during warms up. They did not touch any players. They did not throw any chairs or multiple soda cups on the court. And the ABA league stepped in to control it, but they did not step up to control the environment in Belgrade. Podgorica did not vandalize the playing court,” stated Cole regarding the similar incidents that took place in Game 3 in Podgorica and brought a sanction to Budućnost VOLI.
Boriša Simanić had a key output since he dropped his 10 points in 10 minutes (on perfect 3/3 f.g., 3/3 f.t. shooting) of the first half. The Serbian forward also had a couple of highlights, two days after being announced for the NBA Draft. Dejan Davidovac added 11 points for Zvezda that prevailed despite missing Stratos Perperoglou.
No Budućnost VOLI player scored in double figures. Norris Cole scored nine while projected lottery pick in the 2019 Draft Goga Bitadze had seven points in 16:36.
After the game, Billy Baron of Crvena Zvezda was named MVP of the ABA Liga playoffs.