For the fourth year in a row the host Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade has won the Belgrade NIJT Qualifying Tournament, defeating INSEP Paris 42-56 in Sunday’s exciting finals. Zvezda has earned a chance to compete for the Euroleague title, joining previous qualifiers Cajasol Seville, Zalgiris Kaunas and Real Madrid by claiming a ticket for the NIJT finals in Milan, from May 15 to 18. Behind its aggressive defensive pressure, the hosts did not allow a field goal for 13 minutes, and led by Stefan Lazarevic used a 1-19 run to open up 6-23 lead. However, INSEP responded with a 12-2 spurt through Stephane Gombauld and Ywen Smock to get back in it before halftime. After 18-29 at the break, Gombauld and INSEP continued the charge, cutting to 33-38 in the third, and 39-43 early in the fourth. But the tournament MVP Vojislav Stojanovic scored key baskets, and Marko Radovanovic nailed a triple for Zvezda to pull away for good. Stojanovic paved the way with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Lazarevic added 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in victory. Gombauld finished with 13 points plus 7 rebounds in defeat, and Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot had 9 points plus 5 rebounds for INSEP.
Lazarevic started setting pace for the hosts early on, while Lucas Dussoulier and Eliezer-Vanerot put INSEP in front 5-4. However, Zvezda’s aggressive defense and full-court pressure kept INSEP scoreless for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, Lazarevic scored twice more while Stojanovic and Nikola Rakicevic nailed triples for 5-14 lead. In the second, David Miladinovic scored a basket-plus-foul, and Danilo Ostojic had a reverse layup to put Zvezda up 6-23. Eliezer-Vanerot replied with a triple, and Gombauld scored from close range, while Smock had a monster dunk, cutting it to 18-25. Ostojic and Rakicevic helped Zvezda to a double-digit margin at halftime, but Gombauld scored 6 more points after the break to get INSEP within 33-38. Quick points from Stojanovic gave Zvezda more breathing room, but a put-back from Smock and a fastbreak layup from Eliezer-Vanerot cut it to 39-43. However, Radovanovic hit a second-chance triple, Stojanovic scored a pair of layups to help Zvezda finish strong and claim fourth consecutive Belgrade Tournament title.
Sunday, February 23, 2014