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NIJT Belgrade 2012: Day 2 Review

February 26th, 2012 · No Comments

The tight schedule of the Nike International Junior Tournament in Belgrade continued yesterday with the 4 remaining group games and the semi-finals. As there are always two games running at the same time, it is difficult to cover everything so here we go with the impressions of the day 2.

In the semi-final, the hosts from Crvena Zvezda let no chance to Hemofarm Vrsac to win the game. Zvezda controlled the game from the start and had an early 15 point lead. Even if Hemofarm did not give up and could come back to about 6 points several times, the Reds always had an answer. The were lead by the excellent Nikola Rebic who controlled the game speed really well and hit a multitude of important shots. The little PG, who grew bigger since last year, got good support in the back-court by Brano Djukanovic while Nikola Jankovic cleaned the boards in his usual way. For Hemofarm, only Nikola Milutinov was able to play at his normal level as their usual scorers were nicely shut down by the Cvezda defense.

In the second semi-final, Partizan dominated Mega Vizura without any problem so that we will have the final between archrivals Red Star and Partizan Belgrade on Sunday.

In the morning, we followed the overtime victory of ALBA Berlin against Olimpija Ljubljana. The Germans had an excellent Ismet Akpinar to help them get their first win of the tournament as the Hamburg-based PG scored the decisive points in the overtime. He got the support of Mauricio Marin in the backcourt while the big guys had a lot of trouble to stop Jusuf Nurkic on the Slovenian side. The Lasko player had 17 rebounds and drew 10 fouls but it was not enough as the rest of the Olimpija team could not really step up. Erjon Kastrati had 18pts but terrible shooting percentages while Matic Rebec struggled against Akpinar. Jules Akodo showed again a good game and he might develop on the long term as the best prospect of this team.

The surprise of the day came in the match-up between Hemofarm and INSEP where both teams still tried to qualify for the semi-finals. But it was not the favorite from France but the Serbs that had the better game behind a great defense of Nikola Milutinov on Mam Jaiteh. He got great help on the defensive end by Sinisa Cvetanovic who played 40 minutes where he shot the ball just once. On the offensive end, Luka Andjusic simply destroyed all hopes for INSEP with his three-point shooting to which nobody had an answer. The strangest moment of the game though was the last second with a 11 point difference between both teams. INSEP needed a 7 point loss to advance anyhow but probably one of the French assistant coaches made wrong calculation as they thought a –9 would help them to advance. And when Jaiteh scored on the buzzer (a shot that was even refused afterwards because it was too late), the whole French bench exploded to court believing that they had advanced. Their celebration shocked the Hemofarm players so much that they did not even react at all. After a short confusion, the French players realized that they made an error and the right people were happy then.

In the afternoon, we followed also the game between ALBA and Brose and it was the team from Franconia that surprisingly won this contest behind excellent defense and fighting spirit. ALBA struggled in the defensive rebound but could somehow manage to come back in the last minutes but it was too late.

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