KK Split started its big day at the Cituat de L'Hospitalet tournament on the right foot start by defeating Power Electronics Valencia 79-73 on Tuesday morning in suburban Barcelona, Spain. The result dropped Power VLC to a 0-2 record and the last spot in Group A while Split climbed to 1-0, setting up a key match later Tuesday with DKV Joventut. The winner of that game will reach the semifinals. The L'Hospitalet tournament champ will qualify to the Nike International Junior Tournament to be held during the 2010 Euroleague Final Four weekend. Zalgiris Kaunas has already earned a ticket last week in the first qualifying tournament, while two more tickets will be handed in the following month. Split was in charge of the game in each of the four quarters but never managed to create a decisive run, forcing the squad to fight for the win until the last minute. Toni Katic scored 8 points in the closing minutes to decide the game. Katic was on fire for Split throughout the entire game with 32 points and 7 assists. Vicko Perasovic added 19, Bruno Markulin had 11 and Filip Najev 10. The losing side saw Antonio Tirado provide 19 points and 9 rebounds, Fernando Gari add 16 and Francisco Gomez 14.
Katic hinted what was about to come by scoring the first points of the game beyond the arc. Split added another long ball to take an 18-11 lead, only to see Kevin Navarro and Gomez cut it quickly to a one-point game. Katic said the final word with a two pointer, 27-21 after one quarter. Tirado showed his presence to make it a one point game again, but Katic, now with assists and again a bucket before the buzzer, was stubborn enough to keep Split ahead, and reach the half time stop with a up 42-35. Tirado and Gomez were the dominating force of the team on offense, but Split didn't lose its poise and maintained leads between 6 and 9 points throughout the third quarter. Katic was the first to open a double-digit lead, 62-52, early in the closing quarter, but it wasn't done yet. Gari stepped up to lead his team with 7 points in a row, and when Gomez added two from the line it was suddenly a 66-65 game. Split went then to Katic, who scored to calm things down, as both sides failed to find the rim with the game clock ticking down. It would take more than that to limit Katic, who scored 8 points in a row, putting a 74-66 difference in favor of his side inside the last minute, more than enough to decide the match.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010