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NIJT Belgrade 2014: Day 2 Recap

February 22nd, 2014 · No Comments

The second day of the Nike International Junior Tournament brought first decisions in the morning session where a qualification for the semi-finals was on the line. Here is the report on the morning and evening sessions.

In the first game this Saturday, Crvena Zvezda continued where they began. They dominated on defense without being superb on the offensive end. Vojislav Stojanovic showed his leadership with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. The Buducnost guard Aleksandar Novosel was well guarded so that the whole Montenegrin offense was put on hold. The first half was enough for this game to be decided as the hosts were up 37-27 and never let Buducnost come back.

INSEP came up with a surprising performance after their poor first day and qualified for the semi-finals with a great first half against Zemun. Luc Loubaki led the team with his defensive presence (6 steals) while Ywen Smock and Jonathan Jeanne did their work on the offensive end. Stephane Gombauld was reduced to only 8 minutes because of slight injury but he scored 12 points in this short stretch. Zemun never could develop their game against the French pressure so that the surprise did not happen.

Cedevita came up with a great run in the third quarter that decided their game versus the Canarias Basketball Academy. Lovro Mazalin had the best individual effort of all the tournament that far with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. He got the support of Luka Zivko who showed his skills with 17 points while Karlo Miksic was on fire from behind the arc. The Canarias offense had an off day as only Chris Tang scored in double digits but with a poor percentage.

The last semi-final spot went to Mega Vizura who overcame Partizan in a very close game. Nikola Pavlovic had 21 points and 9 rebounds but he fouled out quite early. Stefan Simic organised the offense quite well as Radovan Djokovic mainly played the SG position. Milos Glisic and Vanja Marinkovic did their job for Partizan with 18+12 and 32+10 respectively but the early deficit in the first half was too big to come back from. With their victory, Mega Vizura topped their group surprisingly and earned to right to compete against INSEP in the evening session.

The first semi-final of the tournament was not really on a great level. Both teams exchanged turnovers instead of baskets so that the score remained low. INSEP struggled to find good positions in the paint against the Mega Vizura zone while the Serbians were unable to connect their shots against the athletic French players. Radovan Djokovic did not have his usual impact on the game and the early injury of Stefan Simic was a big problem for Mega. On the French side, Ywen Smock did a good job to protect the rim but he also had some great passes to his team mates out of the low post. Stephane Gombauld struggled again with his finishes at the rim but he might still be touched by his slight injury from the morning session as he was not as explosive as usual. However, he generated lots of second chances with his presence on the offensive glass. The key player though was probably Lucas Dussoulier who made several big shots in the decisive moments to bring his team to overtime and get the decisive lead. Despite playing a really bad on Friday, INSEP made it to the Final of the  NIJT in Belgrade.

The second semi-final was over before it even started. Lovro Mazalin was not with his team as he had to travel with the Cedevita Seniors to Kragujevac for an Adriatic League game. So the Croatian team was overwhelmed by the pressure of Crvena Zvezda and the difference at half time was already 21 points. Vojislav Stojanovic was leading his team with his aggressive playing style while Stefan Lazarevic took care of the rebounding. After being in the game at the beginning behind the inside presence of Ante Zizic, Cedevita collapsed when Zizic and Dragan Bender had to take their first rest. So I left the arena during the third quarter as everything was decided already.

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