Monday, 3 January 2022

KK Split Falls Short of a Sensation against Red Star Belgrade

January 3, 2022 - A basketball giant as an opponent, Hajduk Coach Valdas Dambrauskas as a special guest, and 1500 spectators at Gripe could not help KK Split on Sunday, currently the worst team in the league. However, hopes were high for a sensation in the 14th round game of the ABA League. 

Hajduk Split coach Valdas Dambrauskas was welcomed by KK Split director Edo Blažević who handed him a Jugoplastika Toni Kukoč jersey before tip-off.

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Understandably apart from the VIP guest, the fans were especially looking for support from the newly signed American Guard Shannon Shorter. The 32-year-old Texan recently joined KK Split as his 21st club in his 11th season as a professional athlete. The 193cm Combo Guard made a big difference to KK Split at both ends of the floor.

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However, even Shorter's 24 points, including several sensational crunch-time baskets, did not stop Split from being defeated by Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda) 66:62 (16:9, 18:18, 15:15, 17:20). 

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The guests had entered the game much more aggressively and quickly secured a seven-point lead, but the "Yellows" were persistent; they came back repeatedly to keep the game close. The spectators created a great atmosphere at Gripe and witnessed an uncertain game outcome until the very end.  

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"We played an excellent game, a gentlemen's game.  Unfortunately, we did not have enough strength and quality to keep the points, but this game can guide how we can and should play. If we can play like this against Zvezda, then there will be no problems in the continuation of the season," said Split Head Coach Srdjan Subotic when analyzing the game. Regarding his new player, he added: "I don't like to judge good or bad based on one or two games, but if he is close to this level, we have certainly got the right player we need."

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Guest coach Dejan Radonjić was able to celebrate the 13th victory of the season and continues to lead the league. Ten of his twelve players scored; however, 11 points from Ivanović and 10 from White stood out for the only two who reached double figures.

Referees: Sašo Petek, Bojan Kruljac, Dragan Porobić 

Box score: https://www.aba-liga.com/match/92/21/1/Overview/q1/1/home/split-crvena-zvezda-mts/ 

All photos by Burak Canboy

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Friday, 12 November 2021

KK Split Celebrates 87:77 (38:33) Victory in ABA League

November 12, 2021 - Krka delivered a good fight, but Hasahn French's injury in the 3rd quarter helped bring KK Split the victory. 

KK Split started the game at the bottom of the ABA League table after seven completed games with only a single win so far against Cibona during their last encounter on October 31st. However, the victory was close and resolved only by a single point with 77:76 for the Yellows (and meant an impressive series of 10 consecutive wins against the team from Zagreb). Krka arrived in Split from Slovenia with three wins out of seven games, making them 10th in the table. Since all the guest’s wins were during their home games, KK Split hoped to make up some ground and establish a position in the race to stay in the league.

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Burak Canboy

The game went back and forth in the first minutes while both teams tried not to make too many mistakes and concentrated on their outside shooting. After a first 6:6 tie, both sides threw in two successful threes to tie the game again at 12:12 before home coach Srđan Subotić had his men defend much more aggressively and saw it rewarded with a 20:14 lead by the end of the first quarter. 

However, the guests from Novo Mesto, who are currently leading the Slovenian national league, did not give up and got back into the game and continued to do so every time that the Yellows seemed to pull away. 

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Burak Canboy

Krka coach Dalibor Damjanović lost his cool several times and was not happy with the referees' calls. Finally, in the third quarter, he was punished with a technical foul after seeing his star player Hasahn French being fouled and falling down hard. The center had to be escorted off the field injured and was not able to return. 

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Burak Canboy

Even without their big man, the team in green fought back again and stayed only a few possessions behind Split until the key moment of the game. Three and a half minutes to go at 75:73, a three-pointer by KK Split guard Barić then a steal followed by a fast-break lay-up for 5 points within just seconds first broke Krka's motivation two dunks by Bajo in the following two possessions broke their neck and sealed the victory.

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Burak Canboy

Despite Split scoring 25 points from turnovers and leading in most statistical categories, the game could have gone either way and was a very attractive game to watch. Instead, the spectators got to see plenty of dunks and good outside scoring with the better end for the home team. 

Six yellow players ended up scoring in double digits, led by Nejc Barič, who delivered a convincing game and shone in clutch situations. With 20 points and 10 assists, he was named Man of the Match. The top scorer for Krka was point-guard Stipčević, who had to play the entire 40 minutes, made 3 of his 4 three-point attempts, and totalled 19 points. 

Referees: Marko Juras, Dragan Porobić, Radoš Arsenijević

Box Score: https://www.aba-liga.com/match-live/50/21/1/Boxscore/q1/1/home/split-krka/ 

Thursday, 30 September 2021

ABA League: KK Split Loses to Partizan Belgrade 59:69 (24:38)

September 30, 2021 - Two losses for Split and two wins for Belgrade in their first games in the ABA League.

First Red Star then Cibona and now Partizan. You can call it a classic season opener for the "Yellows". While the first ABA league game in Belgrade did not go well, KK Split was able to beat Cibona Zagreb 73:62 at home to start the Premijer Liga on the right foot. 

Split's newly appointed head coach, former team captain and assistant coach Srđan Subotić, expects repeating good games on the home court, and most importantly a big step forward compared to the devastating 97:61 loss in the 1st round of ABA League against Red Star.

"Against Cibona, it was seen how much wind in our backs the return of fans in the bleachers gave us. We will get back at them, this is a derby, we are motivated and ready, we will do all to keep the points at home for our fans at home," were the Split coach's words before the game.

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Burak Canboy

At Gripe, the second game in the ABA league started slow for the home team, while legendary guest coach Željko Obradović saw his team take a 5:0 lead which Partizan was able to increase to 11:3 before Split got into the game and closed the first at 15:17 immediately after giving away their first lead of the match.

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Burak Canboy

A very low shooting percentage was the reason why KK Split lost control of the game during the second quarter and had to watch Belgrade score attack after attack to take a 38:24 lead at halftime.

Tonko Vuko's buzzer-beater to finish the third quarter 43:53 marked the only quarter Split was able to win (19:15) was also the signal for the "Yellows" to start the last effort to come back.

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Burak Canboy

Three three-pointers by Toni Perković gave Split some momentum and got the home crowd from their seats in the final quarter of the game. However, the routine of Belgrade was enough to regain control and safely take the points home. 

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Burak Canboy

Perković was the only player in double digits for Split (17), LeDay (15 points,  10 rebounds) and Smailagić (12 points) were the top scorers for Partizan Belgrade.

Referees: Igor Dragojević, Miloš Koljenšić, Ernad Karović

Box score:

https://www.aba-liga.com/match-live/8/21/1/Overview/q1/1/home/split-partizan-nis/

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Thursday, 20 May 2021

KK Split Stays in ABA League 1!

May 20, 2021 - KK Split leaves Sarajevo without a chance in the final relegation game for the ABA League 1 - 90:60 (47:26).

The third game of the ABA League had to bring the final decision after Spars Sarajevo surprised everyone with a close victory in the series opener at Gripe last week to put Split under pressure. The Yellows then had to win in Sarajevo on Saturday to keep their chances alive for another season in the 1st division. KK Split did tie the series with a strong appearance and followed up by winning the opener of the national playoff semi-finals on Tuesday against Cibona Zagreb.

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All eyes were on Spars' coach Modrag Kadija and his young talented squad to see if they could come up with a strategy to pull it off one more time against Split's large and experienced roster as a highly favored side. Big man and rising star Kenan Kamenjaš had to work hard for his 11 points tonight. 

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In Sarajevo and against Cibona the Yellows had massive support for their inside players from their outside shooters who displayed excellent marksmanship and pulled the opposite defenders far out of the zone to give the big men more space to play one on one. 

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Today it was team captain Mateo Kedzo who decided the game already in the first half by scoring 13 points in only 7 minutes and 23 seconds without missing any of his attempts. 

The experienced leaders Kedzo and Ulić gave the team the necessary self-confidence which they had lacked in game one. 

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With the large lead at half-time, Split coach Mile Karakaš was able to rotate all his players through in the second half and the team did not lose any tension. Split's talent Perković, Bajo, and Čampara kept scoring for the favored team to further increase the lead.

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The team was able to apologize for last week's loss to veteran Toni Kukoč who was honored before the game after having been nominated to join the Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this week. 

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Not being able to close the series in two games now puts the Yellows into a tight schedule, however. The second game in the national semifinals will be played in Zagreb tomorrow. The hosts objected to giving Split an additional 24 hours to rest. Quite a remarkable show of sportsmanship or better the lack thereof. But with Split having gained this much momentum during the last 3 games, it may well prove to have been the wrong approach by Cibona. The game will start at 18:00 at Dražen Petrović Hall.

Referees: Saša Pukl, Sašo Petek, Mario Majkić

Boxscore: https://www.aba-liga.com/match/3/20/8/Overview/q1/1/home/split-spars/

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Saturday, 15 May 2021

KK Split Dominates ABA Relegation Game in Sarajevo

May 15, 2021 - An 84:64 (39:35) away game victory for Split brings the decisive final ABA relegation game back to Gripe. 

The relegation series between the Yellows from Split and Spars Sarajevo remains undecided. After the surprise loss at home on Wednesday, KK Split kept its chances alive to play in the first division of the ABA League again next season.

Many news agencies did not hold back with negative reports when KK Split, with one of the biggest purses, if not with the biggest budget in the Croatian league, failed to decide the first game at Gripe in its favor. Having club legend Toni Kukoč witness the loss in one of his rare visits to his former home gym was called a disgrace or even a slap in the face. 

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Today coach Mile Karakaš was able to motivate his team to strike back and leave no doubt that this mini-series is not over yet and has shown clearly why it was the favored team, to begin with. 

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Spars Sarajevo was merely able to compete with the Yellows in the first quarter. At the end of ten minutes, they were up by 18:17 before Split shifted gears and pulled away to 39:35 at half time and then increased the lead to 58:51 by the end of the third quarter.

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Sarajevo was not able to find any way to counter and was shown its place by Split. The guest team outscored the hosts with 26:13 in the last ten minutes to tie the mini-series at 1 victory each. 

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Pavle Marčinković was able to play again for Split after missing the last game due to injury, and Marin Marić was able to show his importance under the basket. Spars' rising star Kenan Kamenjaš scored 16 points and was tied for the top scorer position with his teammate Nedim Buza and Split's Marin Marić. The decisive factor, however, was the accuracy the Yellows showed from beyond the 3-point-line. 15 of 32 attempts found their target for an impressive 46.9% success rate.

The final game to decide who gets to play ABA League 1 next season will be played at Gripe in Split on Thursday. 

Referees: Milivoje Jovčić, Radoš Arsenijević, Aleksandar Milojević

Boxscore: https://www.aba-liga.com/match/2/20/8/Overview/q1/1/home/spars-split/ 

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Friday, 2 April 2021

KK Split Basketball Coach Mile Karakaš: "For Me, it's Not a Job, it's Love."

April 2, 2021 - TCN contributor Burak Canboy sits down for an interview with KK Split coach Mile Karakaš.

The wait for the next game continues for KK Split as a new case of Corona on the team means the cancelation of the national league game in Gorica on Saturday. The rescheduled ABA league game against Krka will probably also need to be canceled again, and it is not even clear when the next game will be played.

Mile Karakaš was the head coach of the Split junior team for five years. He was the U16 Croatia national team coach, which won the gold medal at the U16 FIBA EuroBasket 2018. Since February, he is the head coach of the ABA League team KK Split. He took the time to give us an interview during this unusual time. 

First of all, thank you for agreeing to this interview. You must be having a very chaotic time now after you had one of your players test positive for COVID 19 a few days ago. How does a case of Corona on the team affect the routine exactly?

I cannot say too much about that as it is still not a clear situation. We had a case of Corona on the team before the Krka game. Unfortunately, it has spread out, so we are not sure how we will be able to play the remaining games and the postponed games in time. The Gorica game has now been postponed. Maybe the Krka game will also be postponed again.

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There is no daily routine right now. All I can tell the players is to stay at home and to stay safe. We wait for answers from epidemiologists, crossing fingers that there will be training possible again. Now we already had 5 or 6 days without practice and hoped to start again. On Tuesday night, we received the test results, and we have another positive player. I can only give out individual programs for the players so that they will be in shape.

How do you feel about working in sports during Corona, especially comparing your work to people in hospitals working overtime and restaurants and other places being closed?

We all are thinking mostly very selfish and about ourselves first and tend to forget that it is not easy for everyone. There is constant stress that many people have to deal with.

After the first blow of staying at home and total cancellation of sports, at least something is happening right now, but it is not normal work. However, compared to other people who depend on tourism or work in bars and restaurants and are laid off and let go, we are still the lucky ones. We can’t even compare ourselves to people working in hospitals now. We really are still fortunate to be able to do our work in sports. 

You have taken over a team that had just lost the final of the Krešimir Ćosić Cup, was deep in the relegation of the ABA League, and had only won 1 game of 10 in the ABA league since the middle of November. After taking over the coaching position from Ivica Skelin, your team has won all 7 games in the National League and 2 of the last 4 games in the ABA League. What has changed with you as a coach?

I cannot talk about the coach before, only about myself. First, I talked to all the players and people in the club about all kinds of things but especially about the emotional situation that everyone was in. We tried to evaluate what was working well and what was not working well. Additionally, to change the things that did not work, I tried to put in my own ideas. However, that was not easy because I never had any time to introduce something big. We never had more than 4 days between games, so most practices can only be used for regeneration or preparation of the next game.

I believe that all players have to be ready and will all have their opportunity. Everyone has to understand their role on the team. In Doc Rivers' words, “be a star in your role."

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Ten players can not all have the most minutes and the ball all the time. When all understand that then good things happen.

I still want to play faster, but it cannot be all done at once. With more time, the team will understand more of how I would like us to play.

How much time do you have for that? Can you share the length of your current agreement?

I only have a contract till the end of the season.

Would you like to continue next season?

Of course, I want to continue after the season. At this point, we are only thinking about this season. I have the most respect for clubs that allowed their head coaches to work for long periods of time. For example Bill Belichick [NFL New England Patriots, since 2000], Alex Ferguson [Premier League, Manchester United 1986 to 2013], Greg Popovich [NBA San Antonio Spurs, since 1996]. I cannot compare myself to these iconic trainers, but my dream is to have a lot of time to work like they were. I believe that is the best way for a club as it allows for long-term success.

What are the management’s goals for this year?

The goals are to stay in ABA 1 league and to win the national league. These were not presented as hard goals to me, like "either you do it or we need to find someone else for next season," but that clearly is everyone's expectations. 

Assistant Coach Srđan Subotic was also a candidate as the new coach of the team. How does it feel to be working with someone who may have ambitions himself to take over your job someday in the future?

In the first meeting with Srđan and Ante [Marović] I asked them quite clearly if they have any problem working with me. They confirmed that they want to help me, the team, and the club. Without them, it would not have been possible to achieve the success that we have. They helped me tremendously because they know the team much better than I do. I have no problems at all with them and do not think twice about their opinions and recommendations.

When talking to your former teammates and coaching colleagues, you are described as a person who dedicates himself to the sport of basketball with all his heart. You have proven that you are a great coach winning the gold medal with the U16 Croatia national team at the U16 FIBA EuroBasket 2018. What made you choose to start playing basketball, and what made you decide to make it a profession?

It was my Dad. He truly made me fall in love with sports. I have great memories of sports in Yugoslavia. We were always going to all the Jugoplastika games with Rađa, Kukoć, Perasović, and so many others. Also, we went to Hajduk games, but it was more basketball. 

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I especially remember how the national team with Drazen [Petrović], Toni [Kukoć], and Dino [Rađa] played the final against USSR with Sabonis [1988 Olympic Games Seoul].

After finishing High School, I went to study kinesiology. At the end of the playing career, I had an opportunity to work as a coach in Trogir. And a serious level of game or money was not in sight as a player. At that time, I was not very ambitious, but with time, I really loved it and realized I am actually quite good at it and always received great feedback from the players and club managers.

It never felt hard for me to work as a coach. I can spend 6 hours in the gym, and it does feel like seconds. I have done many jobs. You name it; I have done it. But those things were only jobs to pay for bread, not making me happy. Being a basketball trainer, for me, it's not a job. It's love.

Even though as an adult player, you have played in the close vicinity of Split. Adriatic, Solin, Mislav, Alkar, Kaštela, and Trogir after being a youth player at KK Split. How did it feel being asked to work in the same gym again in which you have spent so much time growing up?

It was a great honour because somebody recognized my work in Adriatic and Trogir. It was Dino Rađa who asked to become an assistant coach to Burić. It was financially a tough time with a very insecure future of the club. At that time, I was living from the paycheck, and my job at Adriatic was pretty safe, but my wife asked me if I was crazy to even think about it twice. She convinced me that it was a great opportunity and regretted it later if I didn’t take that opportunity. Of course, she was right. Everything turned out great, and here we are now. 

During the game against Mega Belgrade, Roko Leni Ukić was the top scorer. He is only two years younger than you. The same as team captain Mateo Kedžo. What is the biggest difference between working with a U16 player versus coaching players that are probably already thinking about what to do after their active playing days?

There are many different players, but kids under 16 are looking at you like a god. They have their own opinions, but they will not push that like Roko or Kedžo. You need to have a different approach. I don't want to sound arrogant, but it is easy for me. I was a player myself, even not on a high level, but I understand what a player thinks and wants. At all times, the best approach is to be honest and open.

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I don't see any situation that can happen where I will not know what to say. It is important to care for them and to respect them. If they feel that, they will give the respect back.

Most foreign readers at Total Croatia News may not know about basketball in Croatia, especially basketball in Split. What would you like them to know?

I am not sure if they will hear about basketball in Split for the first time, but they should know that Jugoplastika Split was named the best team of the 20th century by FIBA.

The team was 3x consecutive European Champions and won several cups and national titles in Yugoslavia.

This region is specific; people are crazy and stubborn, only titles count. Even if compared to other cities, it is a small town; they expect large success here.

Think of greats like Toni Kukoć, Dino Rađa, Goran Ivanisević, Blanka Vlasić. Nobody will stop them and ask for an autograph. Even though they think it's nice to see them, they will mostly treat them like "who to hell are you."

But great success doesn't come just talking about it; you have to go day by day and game by game.

So far, KK Split has won just one Croatian championship. Hopefully, this year, we will win one more.

Good luck with that; I hope your players will soon recover to continue that quest, and many thanks for this interview!

You are very welcome. Let me know anytime you want to hear more. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Coronavirus Slows Down KK Split

March 25, 2021 - The next three games in ABA and Premier leagues have been canceled

The Split basketball team has been hit by a case of COVID-19. The club's press speaker Ozren Marsić confirmed that one player tested positive on the senior team. KK Split canceled tomorrow's ABA league match against Krka in Novo Mesto and the HT Premier League matches at Adria Oil Škrljevo on Sunday as well as the Sonik Puntamika home game on Tuesday. 

After winning 9 of their last 11 games, this is quite a blow to the team of coach Mile Karakaš. Following the ABA league victory against Mega Soccerbet Belgrade, the "Yellows" were successful in the HT Premier League twice. The overtime victory in Šibenik on Sunday was followed by a 77:74 home win against Zabok on Tuesday. 

Hopefully the infected will recover quickly and can return to full speed as soon as possible. In the meantime, the club is waiting for the epidemiologist's instructions.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 March 2021

KK Split Celebrates Impressive 74:65 (42:40) Upset over Mega Soccerbet Belgrade

March 19, 2021 - KK Split continues to ride a wave of success in the ABA league!

It has only been 4 weeks since coach Mile Karakaš took over his position on the sidelines from Ivica Skelin but what a difference he has made so far. Before today’s game, the Split basketball team was to be looked for somewhere in the middle to bottom third in the tables of their competitions.

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Burak Canboy

However, a fresh wind is sweeping through between the walls of Sports Center Gripe lately. In the Croatian Premijer Liga, the team from Split has risen to the second rank behind Zadar and with this evening’s 7th win in the last 9 games, they have made quite a statement in the ABA league.

This week the ABA league was all over the news after dismissing three referees for their weak performance during Saturday’s Cibona-Buducnost game. KK Split however created some good news today and promoted the sport with an impressive upset against the highly favoured team from Belgrade. Mega Soccerbet Belgrade had decided the first meetup of the two on December 6th with 91:75. The topscorer back then was Filip Petrušev with a dominating 31 points.

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Burak Canboy

The “Yellows” plan however was to ignore Belgrade’s top scorers’ performance and concentrate on keeping all other players from getting into the game. Not only did they succeed in keeping the guests at 65 points but they also were able to contain Petrušev to 22, while Roko Ukić was able to put in 29 points for the winning side.

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Burak Canboy

The game was close for most parts and both teams were keeping the other at arm’s length. While the guests from Serbia were clearly better when it came to field goal percentage and rebounds they failed to score from the perimeter. Only two of 22 3-point attempts were successful. The hosts on the other hand sank 12 of their 32 attempts and were able to enforce 21 turnovers while only losing the ball 11 times themselves.

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Burak Canboy

After a close first half, both teams picked up the intensity during the third quarter, and during the fourth quarter Split made the decisive shots and was able to lock down Belgrade to 8 points. The victory allows them to take a deep breath and gives them hope that they will be able to leave the fight against relegation very soon

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Burak Canboy

ABA League 

20210319 16:00 

S.C. Gripe

KK Split Mega Soccerbet Belgrade

Results by Quarters

Q1 24:30 Q2 18:10 Q3 18:17 Q4 14:8

KK Split

Top scorers:

Ukić R. 29

Luković M. 16

Đoković I. 11

Marčinković P. 9

Coach: Mile Karakaš

Mega Belgrade

Top scorers:

Petrušev F. 22

Simonović M. 15

Jović N. 10

Matković K. 6

Coach: Vlada Jovanović

Referees: Sašo Petek, Uroš Nikolić, Bojan Kruljac

Full Boxscore available HERE.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Cedevita Sinks in Second Half, Crvena Zvezda takes 1-0 Lead in Finals

The second game is set for Tuesday, with the series moving to Zagreb on Thursday

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

No Finals For Cedevita, Aco Petrović to Be Nominated National Coach

Cedevita has lost the second semi-final game against Crvena Zvezda 65-73

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