FMP Belgrade repeated as the Nike International Junior Tournament behind a dominating performance from a pair of bright young stars. FMP bested Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 110-123 as tournament MVP Dejan Musli roared for 31 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocked shots and playmaker Nenad Miljenovic recorded 17 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists. FMP led from start to finish, though L. Rytas never threw in the towel and challenged until the very end. FMP never led by more than 20, but always seemed in control nonetheless, mostly due to the dominance of Musli inside and Miljenovic with the ball. Filip Duran added 23 points for the winners and Branislav Dekic scored 20. FMP shot a blistering 39 for 55 (70.9%) on two-pointers for the game. Mantas Kadzevicius paced L. Rytas with 25 points, Jonas Valanciunis produced 22 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks, Osvaldas Matulionis added 17 points and Dovydas Redikas 15.
Duran scored twice in the first minute-and-a-half as FMP raced to a 2-6 lead, but Matulionis and Augustas Peciukevicius kept L. Rytas close. Back to back threes by Dekic and Bogdan Vukadinovic helped FMP stretch its advantage to 11-19 and twice Musli dished to a cutting Nikola Vukasovic to keep their team in control. A Musli follow-up slam put FMP up 9 before Ovidijus Varanauskas beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to get L. Rytas within 28-34 after 10 minutes. A Matulionis steal and pass to Redikas cut L. Rytas’s deficit to 3, however FMP slowly rebuilt its lead with Musli making his presence felt inside and Miljenovic hitting free throws and then finishing a fast break with a layup to give FMP a 35-46 edge midway through the second quarter. L. Rytas tried to battle back, but had no answer for Musli, who added two more baskets to his tally before Vukadinovic drilled a three for a 40-56 FMP advantage. Kadzevicius led a mini L. Rytas revival and a Valanciunis slam made it a 10-point game, leading to an FMP timeout. Valanciunis continued to stand out in the paint and Kadzevicius added a basket to make it 50-58 at halftime.
FMP regained control with the start of the second half as Miljenovic and Musli flashed their skills. L. Rytas stood its ground and refused to let FMP run away, however by midway through the third quarter, FMP found its running game and a Miljenovic assist for a Duran slam made it a 15-point game. Musli soon put FMP up 61-81 and only a Kadzevicius triple made it 70-87 heading into the fourth quarter. Redikas added a basket to get L. Rytas within 15, but Duran answered with scores on back-to-back possessions to keep FMP comfortably ahead. L. Rytas continued to push and got within 9 with three minutes to play, but a pair of Miljenovic passes for a Musli dunks dashed L. Rytas’s hopes. L. Rytas battled until the bitter end, but FMP’s players remained calm on offense, sank their free throws and ran out the clock to repeat as NIJT champions.
Sunday, May 3, 2009