Things are heating up in the ABA League as competition gets stiffer and teams cluster together with similar records. In fact, after the dust settled at the end of Round 5 action, there are now four teams tied with 4-1 records sitting atop of the league standings.
Slovenian teams have seen the most success early on in the 2019-20 season with Primorska and previously undefeated Cedevita Olimpija taking the top two spots. FMP has been the winningest Serbian team in the league and they take third place in the standings. Rounding out the top-4 and list of teams with 4-1 slates is Montenegrin powerhouse Buducnost.
Not too far behind, but still in the outside looking into the magical, playoff-bound top-4 are Serbian rivals BC Partizan and Crvena Zvezda. Ironically, these two teams have been the most dominant in the ABA League over the last decade, but stumbled out of the gates and are now looking to grab positions at the apex of the Adriatic totem pole. They are at 3-2, along with Mornar Bar.
If you really think about it, any of these top-7 teams could be worthy of one of the four highly coveted playoff berths. With just one win separating the current top-4 and the would-be contenders to their current position, it shouldn’t be too much of surprise if there’s a reshuffle in the ABA League standings over the course of the next 2-3 weeks or so.
For obvious reasons, one of the most important games in Round 5 was on Saturday when Mornar Bar handed Cedevita Olimpija their first loss of the season, ending their impressive four-game winning streak to start the 2019-20 season. Mornar Bar played host and wound up prevailing with a 77-70 upset.
There was no real secret sauce in the win. The hosts simply made their shots, a lot of them, mostly from 3-point land, and controlled the pace of the game from there. As a team, Mornar Bar connected on 10 of their 27 attempts from downtown, while the former top team in the league managed to connect on just 4-for-14. Mornar Bar also had the edge as far as hustling for the ball off the glass was concerned, outrebounding Cedevita 31 to 22. Things fell into place for them and their top-seeded guests were unable to teamwork their way out the overwhelming disparity in those two categories. That said, the biggest culprit on the side of Cedevita Olimpija was their awful free throw shooting. The team combined for 14-of-21 shots from the charity stripe. That’s an unforgivable 33 percent. Those seven points left on the table represent the exact margin of Cedevita’s loss. Lessons learned and back to the chalkboard and all that…
Jacob Pullen had a solid night for Mornar Bar, connecting with shots from all over the floor as he put up a game-high 17 points. Derek Needham also was effective as he provided 13 points and two steals.