| For the third time in a row, since the tournament was founded, FMP is the 2010 champion of the Belgrade Nike International Junior Tournament after beating the French academy INSEP 77-69 in the title game played on Sunday afternoon in Belgrade, Serbia. FMP locked its rim late in the third quarter to take over the game and reach the final whistle of the games with a perfect record of 5 wins, all decided long before the final buzzer. INSEP, in its debut performance in the Nike International Junior Tournament competitions, lost only in the gold medal match and showed great talent and a very deep bench to serve the French basketball in the future. The tournament in Belgrade is the third among four qualifying tournaments that leads to the 2010 edition of the Nike International Junior Tournament, to be held during the Final Four weekend in Paris, France. FMP already secured its stop in the games as the reigning champion, and the ticket from the Belgrade tournament will become a wild card. FMP wrote a 14-1 run that lasted for 9 minutes starting the 27th minute to decide the title. Vasilije Micic was the top scorer with 14 points, Nemanja Bezbradica and Nikola Siladi added 12 points each, Nenad Miljenovic finished with 11 and 12 assits while Stefan Popovski-Turanjanin reached 10 points. INSEP saw 17 points by Hugo Invernizzi and 13 by Mathis Keita, but scored in very low percentages, especially from the arc. Siladi was chosen as the Tournament MVP. He led an All-Tournament team that also featured Keita, Philipp Neumann of Brose Baskets, Luka Mitrovic of Hemofarm Stada and Luka Radovic of Buducnost.
Williams John put pressure on Miljenovic right from the start but FMP shared the ball and saw four players score its first 10 points and hold a 2 point lead. Jean-Charles Livio tried to score in several ways but missed time after time to allow FMP some fast break points. Miljenovic dished assists on the fast break, and Nikola Jankovic showed his great passes to FMP's bigs to reach a 17-12 lead. INSEP increased their pressure on the passing lanes and soon Morin with a monster dunk started a 1-11 run capped by a steal and another big dunk by the same Morin, enough for an 18-23 INSEP lead at the end of the first quarter. INSEP scored 4 quick points going inside the second quarter, but now FMP was ready to answer as Popovski-Turanjanin scored a three ball from the corner and Bezbradica collected points in the paint and cut the margin to just one, 28-29. Keita started to collect more points but when Siladi finished a fast break with a big dunk to write his first points 16 minutes after tip off, INSEP called a time out still up 30-33. The dunk added momentum to Siladi's game and a floor rebound led to follow-up finish to tie the score at 35-35. Keita scored twice in a row from the arc, but saw Bezbradica with great foot work in the post up cut the margin to 40-41 with FMP's last points of the break.
Miljenovic tried to get in the game again and a corner three pushed FMP to a 47-42 lead. INSEP didn't find the way to the rim and Miljenovic dished a big pass for a corner three pointer by Vasilje Micic, to take a 50-42 lead and force an INSEP timeout. A hard-nosed fight under the rim showed just how important this game is for both sides. A huge block by Bezbradica on Livio was the highlight of those minutes when defense played a bigger role on both ends. Invernizzi fixed his own miss and Ulysse Adjagba scored 5 in a row to make it just 54-51 after 27 minutes, but Popovski-Turanjanin hit 8 points in a row and Jankovic stole the ball to create a 12 point game, 63-51 at the end of the third quarter. Back-to-back offensive rebounds by FMP allowed Bezbradica to push the gap up to 16, 68-52 with 5 minutes to play in the game. INSEP still looked for its first field goal since the 27th minute, while FMP completed a 14-1 run to take full control of the game. Invernizzi was the one to break the stoppage, but by then it was enough only to narrow the gap to 13 with less than 3:30 to play. INSEP stepped up its intensity but it was a bit too late to change the face of the game.
Sunday, February 14, 2010