Istanbul, Turkey – The last day of the 2021 Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Istanbul offered us four highly competitive battles, two of which finished in overtime. Sunday’s games determined the final standings at the event and the team that will go directly to the 2021 Final Four in Cologne.
Basket Brno won its first victory at the tournament, but at the right time to grasp seventh place, beating Tofas Bursa in overtime – 71-66. The game was full of runs, ups and downs for both teams, Brno opened the game with a 10-0 run thanks to the solid performance within the paint by their big man Ondrej Hustak, but Tofas replied with a 27-4 run, showing nice team spirit and competitiveness, despite the absence of their leading scorer, the naturalized Turkish center Ege Demir due to a foot injury. Until the end of regular time both teams continued to exchange baskets to finish tied, but in the overtime Basket Brno eventually found a way to prevail. Hustak led Brno with a solid double-double – 20 points and 14 rebounds (eight fouls drawn, 8-of-12 from the charity line), while Jakub Necas tallied 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. For Tofas, Berek Buyuktuncel, Can Cevikel (2005, G, 6-3) and Ege Peksari (2003, PG, 6’4.5”) all scored 11 points in a losing effort.
In the second game of the program Fenerbahce and Zaragoza produced another down-to-the-wire thriller, finished again in an overtime – 97-89 for Zaragoza, after the Spanish team managed to blow a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. Zaragoza’s Daniel Arjol once again performed at a high level, finishing with 19 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals, while his teammate Alvaro Martinez tallied 16 points and grabbed six boards. Pablo Aso (2003), a 6-foot-7 wing recorded an efficient showing, finishing with ten points (5-of-6 on 2s), six boards, five assists and three steals, doing a little bit of everything. For Fenerbahce, Goktug Gucoglu (2004), a 6-foot-3 guard with impressive stroke from long range scored 22 points (hit 6-of-11 from outside, including the game-tying 3-pointer), while his teammate Berkay Yilmaz, a 5-foot-11 speedy playmaker added 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
A solid performance in the fourth quarter sealed third place at the tournament for Zalgiris Kaunas against the hosts, Anadolu Efes – 97-79. Liutaras Lelevicius had another impressive showing, this time scoring 27 points, shooting 3-of-4 from long range and grabbed eight boards. Lelevicius was perfect from the charity line, making all of his six shots, while also shooting 6-of-8 on 2s, showing various ways of scoring the ball in his repertoire – floaters, jumpers in transition, slashing to the hoop, quick threes off the catch, moving also smartly without the ball. His teammate Titas Sargiunas (2003), a 6-foot-3 bouncy lefty guard with a high motor, added 19 points, scoring 3-of-4 from long distance. Motijuas Krivas (2004), an intelligent 6-foot-8 frontcourt player added ten points and ten rebounds for the win. Anadolu Efes was led in scoring by Yunus Hamatoglu (2003), a 6-foot-8 forward who recorded 18 points, while his teammates Koralp Turk and Yigit Tekin scored 16 and 12 in the loss, respectively.
In the first-place game Real Madrid topped a hard-nosed Stella Azzurra team – 85-77, despite having serious difficulties figuring out its opponent for more than three quarters. Stella Azzurra started the game extremely aggressive on the defensive end, covering every inch of the floor, full-court pressing and double-teaming in any given opportunity, not saving any energy for later stage of the game and led after the first ten minutes – 18-15. In the second quarter they kept the same high intensity and mentality, building up on that leading 43-37 at halftime.
However, Real’s offensive firepower was demonstrated to its full capacity in the second half and eventually turned out to be too good to handle even for the best defensive team at the event, Stella Azzurra. Real controlled the boards – 46 to 29, while Stella Azzurra managed to force the Spanish team to turn the ball over 17 times, while committing only eight. Eli Ndiaye led the winners with a spectacular double-double – 28 points and 11 rebounds, adding three assists and three steals (eight fouls drawn, 9-of-12 from the charity line). Matteo Spagnolo, the best shooter of Real Madrid, already part of the senior national team of Italy, tallied 22 points for the win, shooting 4-of-8 from outside, hitting some well-contested ones. Nicola Giordano was the leader on the court for Stella Azzurra on both ends of the floor, intelligent scorer and aggressive, hard-nosed defender. Giordano scored 20 points, grabbed four boards and made five assists. Giordano shot 10-of-20 on 2s, most of them were mid-range jumpers off nice crossovers or screens, proving that mid-range shot is alive. His teammates, Matteo Visintin and Lucas Maglietti (2003), a 5-foot-11 Argentinian hard-nosed point guard, both added 17 points in a losing effort.
Eli Ndiaye (Real Madrid)
Matteo Spagnolo (Real Madrid)
Nicola Giordano (Stella Azzurra Rome)
Liutauras Lelevicius(Zalgiris Kaunas)
Jakub Necas (Basket Brno)