BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Partizan Belgrade clinched their 12th consecutive domestic league title (photo: Miroslav Todorovic)|
Partizan mt:s Belgrade conquered their 12th consecutive and 20th domestic league trophy in history on Wednesday, by defeating arch-rivals Red Star Belgrade 68-52 on the road in Game 4 of the Serbian KLS league finals.
The Serbian powerhouse had won their first domestic league title in 1976 within the former united Yugoslavia and have dominated with an iron first since 2002, being crowned champions in each of the past 12 seasons.
On Wednesday, Partizan led their hosts 15-11 at the end of the first quarter and pulled away in the second to hold a 13-point cushion at half-time, 34-21.
Dusko Vujosevic's youthful team continued their admirable defensive effort in the third quarter, giving up only 12 points to Red Star to increase the gap to an almost unassailable 17 points, 50-33, as the two opponents entered the final frame.
With the hosts shooting a poor 3-of-25 from three-point range, Partizan had no problems to hold on to their lead until the final buzzer and celebrate the great victory in front a 6,500-strong crowd of Red Star fans.
Partizan's 21-year-old shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic came off the bench and led all scorers with 17 points on 3-for-4 shooting from behind the three-point arc, despite staying on the floor for only 19 minutes.
Meanwhile young Frenchman Joffrey Lauvergne made the most of his frequent trips to the charity stripe, hitting 11 of his 15 free-throw attempts to finish with 15 points and forward Vladimir Lucic, who made his debut with the Serbian national team in last summer's EuroBasket Qualification Round, added 14 points for the champions.
Partizan had started the title series with an imposing 82-54 demolition of their rivals in the first game at home and followed up by clinching a hard-earned 71-69 win in Game 2 away, making a clear declaration of their intentions to finish on a 3-0 sweep.
Red Star however spoiled Partizan's plans to uncork the champagne in front of their fans, as they surprised them with an 81-74 success in Game 3 in Hala Pionir, behind 17 points from veteran guard Igor Rakocevic.