The third day of the 2010 edition of the Nike International Junior Tournament ended with some drama as it was undecided until the very last game who will be in the Final tomorrow. Even if neither Cajasol nor Ljubljana still had a chance to reach the Final, the result of their was highly important to the outcome in Group B.
- The day started with a tight game between KK Split and Benetton Treviso. The Italians wanted to land their first win and a great third quarter by the Greens gave them still all chances to do so. But in the end, nobody could stop Toni Katic for Split who finished with 23pts, 6rebs and 7asts in a nearly perfect game. He got the support of the always hard working Filip Najev in the paint who finished with a double-double at 17pts and 15rebs (8 offensive boards). On the Italian side, Armin Mazic had 18pts and 5rebs but this was not enough. Center Andrea Quarisa finished with 14pts and 12rebs in his not very beautiful but effective style while PG Alessandro Zanelli had 15pts at the end.
- In a nail biter, that was undecided until the very last second, FMP Belgrade qualified for the Final as Unicaja’s last shot attempt but Jose Pozas did not went in. Beforehand, it was Bogdan Bogdanovic who took over the lead for the Serbians with a tough basket in the last seconds to give them the decisive advantage. Bogdanovic had his best game of the tournament so far with 21pts and 6rebs while yesterday’s hero Nenad Miljenovic was calmer today and finished with 13pts, 5asts but also 6tos. 1994 born Nikola Jankovic continued to impress and is definitely now the first inside option for the Serbian team. Jankovic had also a very impressive play by going coast-to-coast for an emphatic jam. Unicaja was lead by the Brazilian Rafa Freire who had 10pts but also 5rebs, 4stls and 8asts while Malick Fall did his job in the paint with 13pts and 8rebs. But it was the above mentioned Jose Pozas who had his best game today as the PG scored 18pts in just 22 minutes on the court.
- The game between Zalgiris Kaunas and INSEP was also something like a semi-final as both teams wanted to win this one to go to Sunday’s game. The situation was that Kaunas could advance with a simple win, while the French needed some additional conditions to play a fourth game in the tournament. They needed to win by at least 8 points to be sure to be qualified in any situation. In the end, the French team won by 7 and the reaction of both teams showed what we had: a still undecided situation. The game was marked by an INSEP team that nearly had the lead all over the 40 minutes. Driven by their scoring PG Mathis Keita, who had 14pts and 8asts, it was Hugo Invernizzi that once again stepped up big and hit a huge three pointer in the money time. The 1993 born guard had 19pts with 4 from 6 three point attempts. Livio Jean-Charles improved once again and had 20pts but also 7rebs and 4asts on his stat line in the end. For Zalgiris, it was Dovydas Redikas that was leading the scorers with 23pts, 4rebs, 4asts and 3stls while Rolandas Jakstas was not as good as we got used to with only 10pts and 6rebs. Forward Edgaras Ulanovas had 18pts but was a bit off from behind the arc with his 2 out of 8 shooting effort.
- Cajasol finally managed to get their first win of the tournament in the last game of the day by defeating Union Olimpija. With this result, it was clear that INSEP reached the Final and their are certainly a few more Cajasol fans among the French camp tonight. Forward Pape Amadou showed a great game with 23pts, 12rebs and 2blks but a strange 3/8 FT effort while hitting 2/3 three pointers. Pablo Villarejo continued his scoring show for the Spaniards with 20pts while Center Gabriel Darin was present with 8pts and 12rebs. On the Slovenian side, Klemen Prepelic was hot from behind the arc with 15pts (4/7 3s) while Jan Span had not his best shooting day but was present in rebounding and assists with 7pts, 7rebs and 6asts.
- With the tournament coming to an end, it is maybe a bit too early to go for an All-Tournament team yet because the Final can have some last-minute impact but there seem to be already some players that will most likely be named into the Best 5 tomorrow. Here is my prediction for the moment: Rafa Freire, Nenad Miljenovic, Edgaras Ulanovas, Livio Jean-Charles, Nikola Jankovic while some additional candidates are Dovydas Redikas, Mathis Keita, Toni Katic, Filip Najev and Malick Fall.
- Tomorrow, we will follow the Final game of the 2010 edition of the NIJT and come back then with the detailed scouting reports on the main players of the event before heading to Stockholm to cover the Nordic Championships of U16 and U18 National Teams.