| Crvena Zvezda is the Belgrade Tournament champion! Zvezda rounded an incredible tournament and earned the right to play in the Nike International Junior Tournament at the 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four by downing FMP 93-102 in the title game in Zeleznik on Sunday. Aleksandar Cvetkovic, chosen as the MVP of the Tournament, paced the winners with 33 points on 10-of-14 two-pointers and 9-of-9 free throws. He added 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 13 fouls drawn to amass a 55 index. He was not supposed to play the game to his Zvezda's Adriatic League game against Partizan, but it was decided that he would help the junior team as a last-minute decision. Ivan Marinkovic added 23 points, Ivan Saicic had 16, Marko Radonjic got 11 while Nikola Cvorovic contributed 10 for Zvezda. Nenad Miljenovic led FMP with 29 points and 7 assists. Stefan Popovski-Turanjanin added 21, Nemanja Bezbradica had 15 while Nikola Pavlovic got 11 for FMP, that trailed all the way since 12-11 but managed to get within 81-86 midway through the fourth quarter. Cvetkovic and Marinkovic combined for all points in an 0-8 run that sealed the outcome, 81-94, as FMP never recovered.
Marinkovic showed his talent with 4 early points while FMP struggled to score in the first 3 minutes and stood behind 6-0. Bezbradica scored in the paint and Pavlovic reached 6 points early in the game to give FMP its first lead, 11-12, but Cvetkovic was everywhere and finished the first quarter responsible for 14 points of his team with 9 points and 2 assists. That was enough to stand as more than half of the 27 Zvezda tailed to take a 9 point lead after 10 minutes. Miljenovic still didn't find his game, while his rival Cvetkovic continued to make a big difference and soon Zvezda held a 42-27 lead after 16 minutes. Popovski-Turanjanin and Pavlovic scored from the arc to bring FMP closer, Zvezda's point guard capped the first half with 4 free throws to reach 20 points already after 20 minutes and his team up 55-44.
Miljenovic came back with gun powder to the second half and with points and assistst showed he's here to fight. The feud between the two skilled young guards continued and FMP's representative hit a three-pointer to make it 69-61, but Zvezda scored at ease around the rim and jumped back to 75-64. Yet FMP wasn't giving up yet. Popovski-Turanjanin connected 5 points in a row to narrow the gap to 75-69 but Zvezda had the tools to stay on top in safe distance. Miljenovic continued to fight to make a difference, and brought his team close, but Cvetkovic and Marinkovic smashed the FMP defense to pieces time after time to set the gap on 94-81 inside the last 3 minutes of the game. The future MVP kept collecting assists and rebounds to tease the triple double, and locked the victory with a great layup to win a trip to the Final Four in Barcelona.
Sunday, February 20, 2011