Kevin Punter’s rebirth with Crvena Zvezda

Two days ago we all witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in Euroleague history. In a full Astroballe Arena, ASVEL had 19 points lead at the halftime and nobody believed Crvena Zvezda will overcome that deficit and win the game. In the third quarter, the Serbian team came like a hurricane and reduce that deficit to only one point before the last quarter with 34-16 win. Fourth-quarter was balanced but in the last seconds, Kevin Punter scored a 3-point bucket that gave Crvena’s win 83-80.

As you already read, the main reason for Crvena’s comeback is Kevin Punter. He scored a 3-point shot in the final seconds of the third quarter and the game-winner in last seconds of the game. It seems that Punter’s form from last year is back when he helped Virtus Bologna win the Basketball Champions League trophy. He made a very good Final Four, with 21 points and 8 rebounds in the semifinal against Bamberg and then posted 27 points and seven rebounds in the Final against Iberostar Tenerife. He was chosen the Final Four’s MVP and also being nominated in the Best Lineup of the competition.

After that big season, he earned a two-year contract from Olympiacos, making his Euroleague debut with the Greek powerhouse. But then things went very bad for him, coming all the time from the bench, without making any huge impact. He played in 11 Euroleague games averaging 6.8 points and 1.9 rebounds in 17 minutes per game. People expected more from him, after winning those awards at Virtus but it seems that the partnership won’t last long and finally he was released on December 24. He didn’t have the freedom the play his game and didn’t have any opportunity in clutch time as he had in Italy.

Three days after he was released, he signed with Crvena Zvezda, which gave him another chance to prove that he’s Euroleague’s material. And those expectations were filled up after two games. He is averaging 16.5 points and 3.5 assists in 20 minutes per game and his impact was huge, helping Crvena to win both games, against Bayern at home and ASVEL in France. With those two clutch-shots, he already earned the respect and love from Serbian fans and everybody expects at big numbers from him in the remainder of the season.

Photo: Euroleague

Bogdan Vasile Tirc