U18 Mega Leks Belgrade remained alive for a spot in the final of the Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT Qualifying Tournament – Torneo Citta di Roma with a 67-77 victory over U18 Umana Reyer Venice. Mega wasted a 14-point lead but pulled away with a 2-16 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to improve to 1-1 in Group B in Rome. Goga Bitadze led Mega with 19 points while Aleksandar Aranitovic had 12 points and 4 assists. The 15-year-old Marko Pecarski collected 11 points, 13 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks, and Aleksa Matic added 11 points in the win. Mega will take on U18 Unicaja Malaga later on Monday at ANGT Rome, with the winner claiming a spot in the title game against host U18 Stellazzurra Basketball Academy Rome at the Altero Felicia arena. Venice dropped its second straight game despite Riccardo Visconti scoring 26 points while Alessandro Simioni added 16 points and 7 rebounds. Venice will finish group play with a game against U18 Armani Junior Milano.
Matic opened the game with a three-pointer for Mega and Pecarski made it 0-7 before Simioni scored Venice’s first points. The gap was 4-11 after two Pecarski free throws but the Italian club hit the next 7 points to knot the game at 11-11. After a Mega time out, Aranitovic sandwiched baskets around a Uros Plavsic three-pointer as Mega jumped ahead 11-18. Martino Criconia stopped a four-minute scoreless drought and Visconti made it 15-18. But Bitadze and Aranitovic scored to give Mega a 15-22 lead after 10 minutes. Jovan Virijevic and Bitadze hit back-to-back three-pointers early in the second quarter and Bitadze’s next basket had Mega up 17-31. Mega went scoreless for the next 2 minutes and Visconti pulled Venice to within 23-31. The lead was down to 6 points but back up to 10 points again after an Aranitovic basket at 28-38. Venice finished the first half strong with 4 points from Simioni and 3 from Visconti on free throws to trim the margin to 37-41 at intermission.
Bitadze opened the second half with a score to make it 37-43 but Visconti scored 4 points as Venice evened the game at 43-43. Bitadze scored 2 more baskets to push Mega ahead 45-49, only to see Venice hit the next 4 points to tie it again and eventually take the lead for the first time 52-51 on Visconti’s three-pointer. Venice’s offense stalled over the final 5 minutes of the third quarter and Mega used a 2-8 push to go ahead 54-59 after 30 minutes. Venice still could not find any rhythm in the fourth and watched as Bogdan Nedeljkovic nailed 2 three-pointers early in the quarter and Pecarski hit 2 free throws to make it 54-67. Michele Antelli finally scored for Venice with a three-pointer with 4:25 minutes left. Visconti hit 3 more baskets to get the margin down to 65-72 with 1:30 minute to play, but Novak Music, Matic and Plavsic combined to make 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Monday, December 28, 2015
David Hein, Euroleague.net