Facing Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv in front of the home crowd at Menora Mivtachim Arena is never easy. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade shrugged off the fans as well as being short-handed and grabbed an important road victory – thanks in large part to the former Maccabi guard Nate Wolters.
Wolters poured in 17 points including 2 three-pointers late in the third quarter to regain control of the game for Zvezda, which won 63-75. Nikola Kalinic was actually the game’s top scorer with 19 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists in the winning effort. But so much of the attention went to Wolters, who played for the Israeli champs in 2019-20.
Wolters dismissed questions after the game about him being extra motivated in facing his former team and said: “We just needed a road win early in the year. It’s always good to win on the road. We have a lot of guys out right now. It’s been a tough situation early in the year but we played really well tonight and played good defense and didn’t let them get in a rhythm all night.”
Zvezda head coach Dejan Radonjic hinted that Wolters may have had a higher level of motivation for the contest: “Every game in the EuroLeague we have a huge motivation and I think he had a big motivation tonight to play well. I hope he will continue like this.”
Radonjic actually called this game Wolters’ best for the club – also taking into account the 27 EuroLeague appearances he had for Zvezda in 2016-17.
“This was his best game for Zvezda – not just this year but also from when he was with the team before,” the coach said.
Wolters’ former teammate at Maccabi Angelo Caloiaro wasn’t surprised by the performance.
“We’ve played with Nate. We know that he’s a heck of a player. It’s fun to play against old teammates. He got going tonight. He was really good for them,” Caloiaro said.
Also really good was Zvezda’s defense. Prior to giving up just 63 points on the road against Maccabi, Radonjic’s men held Fenerbache Beko Istanbul to just 61 points in Round 1, albeit in a 61-57 road loss in Turkey.
Radonjic was happy about his team’s ability to step up to win in a tough environment.
“To win here you have to be ready to play at both ends. It’s always nice to play in a great atmosphere and today it was a big challenge for us to play against Maccabi in front of fans,” the coach said.
And Zvezda showed it was up to the challenge.