|Matthew Lojeski was named MVP after posting 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the Belgian Cup final|
BC Telenet Oostende conquered their 13th Belgian Cup title on Monday, defeating Okapi Aalstar 77-76 in the final at the Lotto Arena in Antwerp, after a thrilling finale.
Despite a relatively balanced start to the encounter, nothing indicated that the reigning Belgian league champions would have to suffer through some nervous final seconds in order to cement their place as the most successful club in the history of the domestic cup competition.
Oostende started pulling away already in the second quarter and took a 53-39 lead at the half-time interval.
But when, at the end of the third quarter, Veselin Petrovic hit a three-pointer to make it 72-53 on the scoreboard, Okapi pointguard Derek Raivio decided it was time to take action and turn the game around.
The 28-year-old point guard spurred his team's comeback attempt by either making shots from long range or penetrating and kicking the ball out to shooting guard Lee Cummard, who made two big three-pointers in the clutch.
Okapi came within three points, 77-74, on a Raivio three-pointer, before first Petrovic and then Brent Wright failed to score from below the basket and seal the win for Oostende.
On the last possession, Okapi small forward Thomas Dreesen scored and was fouled almost at the buzzer.
With the scores at 77-76, he could send the game into overtime but his free throw fell short and Oostende could finally celebrate the victory they thought they had clinched with 10 minutes to spare.
Lojeski was the indisputable MVP of the final, as he paved Oostende's way to the trophy with 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on an inspired night; Wright chipped in with 13 points and Dusan Djordjevic had nine for the winners.
Raivio meanwhile finished with 19 points and three assists and center Christopher Young with 15 for Okapi in defeat.
CUP GLORY FOR MZT SKOPJE
KK MZT Skopje Aerodrom overcame a modest start to the national cup final in F.Y.R. of Macedonia and defeated Kumanovo 2009, 79-71, to conquer the title.
The team from the capital, who are led by newly-appointed F.Y.R. of Macedonia head coach Ales Pipan, were trailing by six points early on but produced an excellent second quarter to take their first lead, 37-35, just before the half-time interval.
While Skopje never increased the gap to double digits, they relied on the hot hand of F.Y.R of Macedonia international Damjan Stojanovski to hold out the rest of the way and prevent their gutsy opponents from mounting a comeback.
Stojanovski finished with a team-high 20 points and got plenty of support from his team-mate on the national team Gjorgji Chekovski, as the power forward contributed 16 points and six rebounds; Montenegro international Boris Bakic meanwhile added 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Uros Lukovic was on an exceptional night for Kumanovo, as he led all scorers and rebounders with a 22-point, 14-board double-double in defeat.