Friday, 27 May 2022

KK Split Gives Away Shot at the Title to KK Zadar 77:84 (36:31)

May 27, 2022 - Defending champions KK Zadar overcome home-court disadvantage and come back from behind to win the final game of this year's semifinal series 2:1.

Entering tonight's game both teams had won their home games clearly. Split had opened last Friday with a 74:64 (39:33) victory and Zadar answered with 76:57 (34:36) on Monday to tie the series and enforce today's decisive final encounter. 


The guests had to deal with internal problems during the last days after the police and justice system needed to get involved at the request of board members claiming that management was involved in embezzlement. The hosts were able to celebrate Shannon Shorter receiving the ABA League Top Scorer award last night. 


The 2000 spectators at Gripe saw a proper derby fight in which the Yellows for most of the game looked like they would win this one tonight. In the beginning, it was Zadar who had the better start. It took some time until close to the end of the first quarter before Split conquered its first lead at 16:14 but Zadar closed the quarter with the final points to make it 16:17.


During the second quarter, Jones had an impact with two blocked shots and 4 points from well-executed pick and rolls with Shorter. Ukić came off the bench and also took over more responsibility. The former NBA player scored 10 points and together with some strong effort by Jukić, the home team pulled away to a 36:31 lead at halftime.


Lots of drama then in quarter 3: Split was about to pull away in the race at 47:37 when two fouls against Žganec were not called by the referees, but his unlucky foul as a response was called an intentional one as it stopped a potential fast break. During the following discussion between coaches, players, and referees, a technical foul was issued against the Split bench and Zadar immediately came back to 47:43 and then to 47:45 before recovered Toni Perković gave short relief with a 3 pointer which was directly followed by a 3 from Drežnjak (50:48), an offensive rebound and Drežnjak's 50:50. A foul on Ukić who successfully finished his lay-up lit the gym on fire. Srđan Subotić's Yellows closed the quarter at 62:59 and then recovered their 10-point lead at 67:57 with 7 minutes left to play. 


The summer break will probably not be long enough to analyse what happened next. Even though a 10-point lead is not considered much, it is still a lead that a home team in a decisive game should manage to hold on to. But Split couldn't and it was the players with the blue jerseys once again who managed to celebrate as so often this season. 


Srđan Hellbich's team (top sorters scorers: Thompson 23 points Mavra 18, Drežnjak 14, Carter 13) will now have a chance to defend their title against Cibona Zagreb in a best of 5 series which will begin on Monday in Zagreb. 

Result by quarters: 16:17, 36:31, 62:59, 77:84

Referees: Jovović Alfred, Hadžić Denis, Kruljac Bojan


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Monday, 23 May 2022

KK Zadar Ties Championship Semifinals Against KK Split 76:57 (34:36) at Home

May 23, 2022 - Krešimir Ćosić Arena seemed almost empty with 1100 in attendance at game two of this year's Croatian Basketball Championship semifinals between KK Zadar and KK Split. The fans there saw a mediocre game with a better end for the hosts. 



After Split had used its home-court advantage in game one on Friday for a 74:64 victory, it was Zadar's third-quarter energy display to enforce a game three. The home team had led most of the first half but Split stayed in the game despite missing Toni Perković, who had been an important factor in the last game. Even without the outside shots from the guard, Srđan Subotić's team managed to catch the first lead just at the end of the second half (34:36).



The game was then decided in the third quarter, in which Zadar dominated the boards and was able to outscore the Yellows 25:9. Split was able to increase defensive intensity in the final quarter, but terrible outside shooting (18% three-point percentage) did not allow them to turn the game around. 



Zadar coach Srđan Helbich's best players were Justin Carter, who scored 21 points and caught 7 rebounds, Trevor Thompson added 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Dario Drežnjak added 13 points to the victory. Shannon Shorter, with 20 points and seven rebounds, and Tonko Vuko, with 15 points, were the only ones in double digits wearing the Split jersey today.


The decisive third game will be played in Split on Friday, May 27th.

Referees: Hordov Tomislav, Jurčević Josip, Gracin Franko

Result by quarters: 22:16, 12:20, 25:9, 17:12

Box score: 

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Saturday, 5 June 2021

KK Zadar Becomes Croatian Basketball Champions After 13 Years!

June 5, 2021 - KK Zadar becomes Croatian basketball champions after defeating Split 84:57 in the final game of the series on Saturday at Višnjik.

Since Croatian independence, Zagreb teams Cedevita and Cibona have mostly dominated the Basketball Championships (25 of 28 seasons). Split was able to pull off one title in 2003, while Zadar was able to win two in 2005 and 2008. 

Tonight, the two Dalmatian teams had to battle to find out who would be forever remembered as the 2021 champions and who would only be known by experts remembering a series that was played to the last decisive game. Recall, Zadar won its two home games to take a lead and seemed like the sure champions before Split somehow managed to come back to win game 3 in overtime and continue with a clear victory in game 4 to tie the series 2:2.

A lot of rumors were going on regarding discussions between the Zadar club,  the National Basketball Association, and the epidemiologists in charge of deciding how many spectators would be allowed into the gym. After the two losses in Split, the hosts were hoping for some support after seeing how much noise 100 spectators could make in Split and how many 100 spectators could actually be. During the first two games, Zadar had basically played in front of empty seats. Not very surprisingly thousands of spectators could not be held back and found their way into the arena to give Zadar a true home atmosphere, and despite all epidemic concerns it surely got loud in the arena. 

Despite the noise and intimidation, Split had the better start with a 0:5 in the first 3 minutes. Zadar was able to counter with a 14:2 run until 8 minutes into the game. Zadar was able to control the boards once again and outrebounded the Yellows 26:15 in the first half.


Burak Canboy

Burak Canboy

The second quarter opened with a three-pointer by Jordano (20:9), followed by two more Jordano three-pointers for a 15-point Zadar advantage in the 16th minute (33:18). Mesiček responded with a three-pointer, but in the next minute and a half, the 8:0 Zadar series on the wings of Mavra and Onuaku followed, and in the 18th minute, Zadar was up by 20 (41:21). The second quarter ended with a three-pointer by Ukić and Onuaku dunk (49:29).


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy

Zadar's Jordano was on fire tonight and scored his sixth three-pointer of the final for 55:31 in the third quarter. Thanks to Vuković and Junaković, Zadar was up by 30 (68:38) in the last minute of the third quarter. Vukovic scored for 71:40, and Ukić ended the quarter with a three-pointer for 71:43.


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy

Zadar calmly brought the game to an end. In the last quarter, more attention was paid to the stands than to the floor. Zadar fans lit torches and celebrated their new title.


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy

Zadar: Carter 15, Jordano 22, Justice, Palokaj, Brala, Vukovic 7, Bursac 4, Junakovic 4, Mavra 11, Onuaku 19, Planinic 2, Kraljevic.

Split: Perkovic 3, Perasovic 5, Kedzo 2, Ukic 18, Marcinkovic, Bajo 2, Champara, Babic 5, Vrankovic 2, Lukovic 9, Maric 6, Mesicek 5.

Referees: Luka Kardum, Tomislav Vovk, Bojan Kruljac

Source: Dalmatinski Portal

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Wednesday, 2 June 2021

KK Split Sensationally Stops another Zadar Match-point to Tie the Series

June 2, 2021 - 81:68 (44:37) KK Split victory sends the national finals into a decisive game 5 in Zadar on Friday.

Zadar had already celebrated with its fans from the balcony of Krešimir Ćosić Sports Center after the win on Friday to take a 2:0 lead in the series. Then at the game on Monday, the guests were already 16 points ahead in the second quarter and looked like the next champions. Now it looks like they celebrated too early. After tonight's defeat, Zadar will have a home-court advantage, but the Yellows now have the momentum on their side.

Split showed a remarkable reaction already during the last game. After a dunk from the Yellows' big man Luka Babić, Zadar had to take a timeout. On the way to the bench, Marko Luković from Split and Aleksandar Bursać from Zadar got into a verbal dispute that caused the teams to go head to head on the court and home coach Mile Karakaš had to wrestle Luković to the ground to save him from further disciplinary punishment. Both players were ejected and it became a turning point in the series. Zadar seemed to have lost all energy while Split started to dominate the game and managed to cut the lead by end of regular time and then easily won the game in overtime.


Burak Canboy

Both "fighters" were allowed to play again today and the game started with both teams playing on the same level. Changing leads with good outside scoring was the predominant situation in the first minutes before Zadar was able to pull away 14:21 after 9 minutes and close the quarter at 19:23.


Burak Canboy

The guests managed to lead until Split came back with a double punch. A three-pointer by Toni Perković marked the 25:27 in the 13th minute before another three-pointer by Perasović gave the Yellows a 28:27 lead. 


Burak Canboy

KK Zadar fought back and both teams were exchanging leads before Perković marked the 33:31 and Split managed to have a run to reach its biggest lead of the first half at 44:36 just before half-time (44:37).


Burak Canboy

The second half started with both teams respecting one another and none wanting to lose ground. There was a long time without scoring before Marko Luković showed the positive side of his game by hitting 2 back-to-back three-pointers to give the hosts a 56:42 lead who managed to maintain the lead until 62:48 at the end of the third quarter.


Burak Canboy

Zadar could not come back and Split managed to use its homecourt advantage for the second time and now has a shot at the title again on Friday when the decisive game at Krešimir Ćosić Sports Center will produce the 2020/2021 Croatian National Basketball Champions. 


Burak Canboy

The best players of the night were Toni Perković with 18 points (4/8 three-pointers) and Marko Luković 17 points (5/8 three-pointers). Mavra, Onuaku, and Carter were able to score double digits for the guests. 

Referees: Tomislav Vovk, Alfred Jovovich, Bojan Kruljac


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Monday, 31 May 2021

Croatian Basketball Finals Game 3: Split Stays Alive with Overtime Win against Zadar!

May 31, 2021 - KK Split stays alive with an overtime win against Zadar in the Croatian basketball finals game 3 in Split on Monday (83:75). 

Split and Zadar met at Gripe in Split for the third game of the Croatian basketball championship finals. Zadar celebrated in the first two games, and one victory separated them from the title.

Ukić opened the match with a basket, and Bursać returned the favor on the other side with a three-pointer. In the fourth minute, Vranković scored for 6:8, and in the next four and a half minutes, Zadar's Mavra, Justice, and Bursać had a 13:0 series for the 21:6 lead in the ninth minute. Marić missed two free throws but got both in the next attack. Carter closed the quarter with a cross from the center at the last second. Carter hit a buzzer-beater to end the 1st quarter at 10:24 for Zadar.


Burak Canboy

Split burst into the 2nd quarter with newfound energy, but it wasn't too much for Zadar to handle. Zadar had more offensive rebounds. Carter scored for 26:10, and Ukić returned the favor with a three-pointer. Mesiček also scored (15:26), and Planinić was precise on the other side of the floor. Babić scored a three-pointer for 18:28, and Split did not score in the next four minutes. Zadar scored four points and led 32:18 by the 17th minute.


Burak Canboy

Luković scored a three-pointer, and after Perković was blocked in the counter by Bursać, Karakaš reacted violently and earned a technical. Justice scored a free throw for 21:35. Ukić scored a three-pointer, followed by a Perković field goal. The heat between Bursać and Luković resulted in a fight on the floor, and both players were excluded. Ukić scored a three-pointer, and Zadar only had a six-point advantage at halftime (29:35).

DSC06668_2.jpegBurak Canboy


Burak Canboy

Ukić opened the 3rd quarter with a three-pointer for Split (32:35). Vuković made two free throws, and then Onuaku scored (32:39). Ukić reduced the lead to 35:39 with his fifth three-pointer, but Zadar retaliated with a three-pointer by Mavra and Justice (35:44). Perković nailed a three-pointer, and Ukić was fouled (41:44). Jordano scored five consecutive points (41:49), but Ukić returned (43:49). Thanks to Marić, Split reached 52:55 in the last minute of the 3rd quarter (54:49). 

Burak Canboy

Split was minus two (57:59) to start the final quarter. Zadar again reached a six-point advantage thanks to Carter and Onuaku. The 'Yellows' came to 61:63 with a three-pointer by Marčinković, but Zadar fought back. Carter scored for three (61:67). Five minutes before the end, Marić knocked for 68:69, but Carter soon returned (68:71). Split was in the lead for the first time (72:71) with Ukić's baskets from the free-throw line. With just over two minutes to go, Vuković missed, Onuaku jumped in the attack, and Jordano returned the advantage to Zadar with a three-pointer. Ukić was brilliant to score for 74:74. In the final minute, Junaković and Ukić could not score, moving the game to overtime.

Split managed to win in overtime 83:75, bringing the series to game 4 in Split on Wednesday! 

Source: Dalmatinski Portal 

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Friday, 28 May 2021

KK Zadar Only One More Win Away from Croatian Championship Title

May 28, 2021 - KK Split fought but was missing the necessary edge and luck to make a difference at 73:58 (28:28).

In the first game of the Croatian National Basketball Championship Finals, Zadar convincingly celebrated a victory against Split (81:53). Zadar dominated the entire match and with their dedication, they took the first step towards lifting the trophy for the third time. The main reason for the Zadar celebration was their defense. Coach Veljko Mršić’s squad played with high intensity and aggression. Zadar had 10 rebounds more than the guests and forced Split to 17 turnovers.

During the first match, Antonio Jordano was extremely successful from the three-point range, hitting three of his 6 attempts.

"We played a really good game but we have to leave that behind because the series is long. I think that in the next game we have to play as aggressively and focused as possible because that is the only way we will be able to fulfill some of the goals we agreed on. We have to be at a high level in defense and attack, I think that is the key for tomorrow's game. We have shown that we play as a team, we play as a team, and that is the most important thing," said Antonio Jordano last night.

At the same press conference, Veljko Mršić said that one should be careful after the first game. "I expect a good Split, it is still a team that beat Cibona twice in the semifinals. We have no right to relax after yesterday's victory, regardless of the fact that we have beaten Split four times in a row. We have to continue like this, because this is only the first third of the road, we have two more steps to win the title, that is our wish. We are going step by step, tomorrow is a new game and we are just thinking about that," said Veljko Mršić.

The normally very relaxed guest coach Mile Karakaš became very emotional during the second half of the game and stayed in Zadar with his team to fully focus on finding a way to crack the Zadar defense. He was able to start with his full roster including Perković who had missed the last game. 

The game started with slight advantages for the home team. Towards the end of the first quarter, Split brought the game to Marin Marić who could not be stopped. However, Zadar was able to pull away again with the last two attacks of the first quarter including a buzzer-beater by Carter for an 18:13 lead. 


Burak Canboy

The Yellows were able to shake off the first loss and the issues of the first quarter and continued to put pressure on Zadar's big men. Despite a low shooting percentage, Split stayed in the game and put up a good fight for the rebounds. With Marić scoring 11 points in the first half, the guests tied the game 28:28 at halftime. 


Burak Canboy

Milan Karakaš had to watch his team's luck run out in the second half. His team kept fighting against the constantly delivering home team but neither free throws nor important outside shots found their way into the basket.


Burak Canboy

Zadar out-rebounded the guests in the second half by 21:8 while Split could not even score from the free-throw line. A mere 3 shots out of nine found their target.


Burak Canboy

Burak Canboy

Despite his team having the upper hand, Zadar's top scorer Chinanu Michael Onuaku (19 points) showed some unsportsmanlike conduct in several situations towards the end of the game leading to a verbal dispute with Luka Babić after the final whistle. Maybe he sparked the fire that Split will need to get back into this series.

The next two games will be played in Split on Monday and Wednesday. Zadar only needs one more win to finish the season with their third title.

Referees: Luka Kardum, Tomislav Vovk, Alfred Jovović

Box score:

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Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Zadar Sets the Tone in First Game of Croatian Basketball Finals

May 26, 2021 - Game 1 of the Croatian basketball finals was played tonight in Zadar. Split was without any chance at an 81:53 (48:21) loss to Zadar. 

It has been 13 years since KK Split had a shot to win the national basketball championship trophy. They succeeded with the help of veteran Dino Rađa who had put on the yellow jersey before he retired his career. 

Three people remember those days very well. Srđan Subotić, Roko Leni Ukić, and Mateo Kedžo all were part of the last Split team to make it to the finals and win eventually. Today Subotić is the assistant coach, Kedžo is the team captain and Ukić returned to the team mid-season to have another shot at the title. They beat Cibona Zagreb in two straight games and one day more rest than the hosts.



In the Dalmatian derby, it is their opponent KK Zadar, however, who played the more convincing season. The two-time Croatian champion, ABA League Champion, and eight-time Croatian cup winner finished the regular season at the top and has a homecourt advantage in the Best-Of-Five finals. They start the series with two home games before the games go to Split for up to two games. Should no team have three victories by then, the final game will be played in Zadar again.


Burak Canboy

Zadar surprisingly needed 3 games to beat Gorica to make it to the finals but started into the game well tonight. Coach Veljko Mršić's team was very focused in the first quarter and outscored the Yellows 17:7. The guest team from Split did not look good in the aerial battles and could not hit the open shots. Zadar had several offensive rebounds for additional tries and even stopped Split's last two attacks with blocks. 


Burak Canboy

It got worse for Split Coach Mile Karakaš who had to watch his team being outscored in the first 4 minutes of the second quarter by 13:3. Zadar was up 30:9 before Ukić showed a sign of life by nailing a 3 point shot. Mesiček added another one to get to 30:15.


Burak Canboy

Any hope that came up for Split did not last long. Zadar dominated the game at both ends of the court and a dunk from Onuaku to make the 48:21 just 2:28 into the second half pretty much ended the game already. The hosts increased their lead to up to 31 points at the beginning of the final quarter before letting the reigns a bit looser for the last minutes. 


Burak Canboy

Split will need to come back with some kind of response in the game on Friday if they want to stay in this battle for their second Croatian national title.

The top scorer of the game was Zadar's captain Dominik Mavra with 17 points. Chineanu Michael Onuaku scored a double-double with 10 rebounds and 12 points. Split's Blaž Mesiček was the only guest player to score double-digits (14 points).

Referees: Tomislav Hordov, Denis Hadžić, Josip Jurčević

Box score: 

Croatian Basketball Championship Finals schedule: 

Game 2: KK Zadar - KK Split will be played on May 28, 2021, in Zadar at "Krešimir Ćosić" hall, Splitska 3, starting at 18:00 with a live broadcast at Arena Sport.

Game 3: KK Split - KK Zadar will be played on May 31, 2021, in Split, at the "Split" Basketball Hall, Ulica slobode 16 b, starting at 21:00, with a live broadcast at the Arena Sport HRT.

Game 4: KK Split - KK Zadar will be played on June 2, 2021, in Split, at the "Split" Basketball Hall, Ulica slobode 16 b

Game 5: KK Zadar - KK Split will be played on June 5, 2021 in Zadar, at "Krešimir Ćosić" hall, Splitska 3

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Sunday, 23 May 2021

KK Zadar Completes Dalmatian Duel in National Basketball Final

May 23, 2021 - KK Zadar and Gorica fought in the HT Premijer Liga semifinal. KK Zadar defeated Gorica 85:68 (42:30).

Zadar entered the game as the favored team finishing the league at the pole position and swept Šibenik in the quarter-finals. Gorica came in 4th position at the end of the regular season and managed to pull off two tight wins against KK Sonik Puntamika.

After winning the first game at home 89:73, Zadar showed weakness on Thursday and surprisingly lost at Gorica with 76:79. Today's game at Krešimir Ćosić Sports Center had to bring the decision on who would face KK Split in the championship finals. Split won in two straight games against Cibona Zagreb. 


Burak Canboy

Gorica was still weakened and coach Josip Sesar arrived with only 10 players despite the return of Bakur, their inside players were mostly missing due to the continued absences of Ljubičić and Batur. Their main target before the game was to keep Zadar's big man Onuaku out of the game and to see if Karlo Uljarević could repeat his 22 point game from Thursday in which he scored 3 successful three-point shots.


Burak Canboy

The Dalmatians started well into the game and decided the first quarter 18:14. The second quarter turned out to be quite ugly with plenty of fouls and few baskets out of set play situation. A buzzer-beater from Vuković sealed the hosts 42:30 halftime score. 


Burak Canboy


Burak Canboy

Plenty of fouls seemed to be the only hope for the underdogs from Gorica and the game continued how the first half had ended. Zadar was able to pull away to its largest lead of 64:39 but the guests did no give up. The men of coach Veljko Mršić managed to start the final quarter with a 10:0 run to achieve a 72:60 but could keep up the intensity until the end. Zadar managed the lead and sealed the 17 point victory to qualify for the finals in which they will have a home-court advantage against KK Split who make their first finals appearance after 13 years. 


Burak Canboy

The top scorer of the night was Zadar's captain Dominik Mavra with 19 points, Karlo Uljarević scored 14 for the guests. 

The finals will be played in a 2-2-1 mode with the first two games in Zadar on Wednesday and Friday. The first team to win 3 games will win the title. 

Referees: Jovovich, Jurčević, Mustapić

23rd May 2021 18:00 Krešimir Ćosić Sports Center

Box score:

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