The second day of the Nike International Junior Tournament in Belgrade started for me quite early in order to follow the morning session of the event. In the afternoon, I decided to skip the semi-finals in order to see the prospects of Partizan play their Adriatic League game against Olimpija Ljubljana in Pionir.
The first game of the morning was the match-up between ALBA and Treviso. In a not very good game, the Italians won in the end but the outcome could also have seen an German victory. Ismet Akpinar, who signed recently a long term deal with ALBA and Konstantin Kovalev were the driving forces for the team from Berlin but Frederico Milella scored 20 points and lead his team to a first vicotry in the tournament.
The most anticipated game of the morning was of course the clash of INSEP and Partizan. The loser of the game would avoid the tournament favorites Crvena Zvedza in the semifinals so both teams knew what they had to do. In a hard fought matchup, nobody could really take a large lead. INSEP was again driven by Damien Inglis who put another monster game on the table and he is now nearly averaging a triple-double. But the Partizan backcourt of Bozidar Babovic and Vasilije Pusica were hard to handle for the French, especially in the decisive moments. Nemanja Djordjevic gave the French athletes a lesson of how to play on the floor in the paint as he dominated the boards. The French coaching was also a bit strange as they risked a fifth foul by Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot in the third quarter which he got with more than 10 minutes to go. The athletic swingman was a big help for the French team and nearly threw done one of the most impressive dunks I have seen in a long time. But it should not be and Partizan will meet with Mega Vizura in the semis, while INSEP will have to deal with Crvena Zvezda.
The afternoon session skipped, it was about time to move to Pionir Arena to follow the Adriatic League game between Partizan Belgrade and Olimpija Ljubljana. The game had everything you wanted to see, lots of prospects on both sides and a tied score until the end. Olimpija won the game in the final seconds on an offensive rebound and putback of Dino Muric. The story of the game was however more or less the emergence of the French big man Joffrey Lauvergne who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Lauvergne looked in bettter shape, ran the court well and seems to have gained in explosiveness. He took the place of Drew Gordon in the rotation, at least for this game. Leo Westermann had some problems to put his name on this game while Davis Bertans had a good first half but could not block of Muric in the decisive moment of the game. On the Slovenian side, Klemen Prepelic had a good phase in the first quarter where he scored most of his points while Alen Omic showed his potential as a floor center during the game. You can find a detailed analysis of this game in the next days on the blog.
For the last day in Belgrade, the schedule has next to the Finals of the NIJT also a Serbian league game of Mega Vizura in Zemun.