BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Bogdan Bogdanovic was named Finals MVP (photo: Nenad Negovanovic/kkpartizan.rs)|
Serbian international Bogdan Bogdanovic has delivered some of the most stellar performances anywhere in Europe during the post-season to lead Partizan Belgrade to their 13th consecutive Serbian KLS title.
Partizan overcame a 1-0 initial deficit in the play-off finals to defeat their cross-town arch-rivals Crvena Zvezda 3-1 and capture their 21st championship trophy in the history of the club, including the period before the break-up of Yugoslavia.
Bogdanovic was the main reason behind their success, as he averaged 30.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game in the title series and overshadowed with his outlandish displays the high tension and some unfortunate incidents that mired these finals.
Partizan responded to a painful 97-88 loss in overtime at home in Game 1 with an 82-62 rout of Crvena Zvezda on the road in the second game of the series, behind 33 points from Bogdanovic and an 18-point, nine-rebound showing by big man Djordje Gagic.
Then in Game 3 Bogdanovic came up with 20 points, Sasha Pavlovic added 16 and French international Joffrey Lauvergne picked up a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards as Partizan claimed a 77-67 victory and the lead in the series.
The stage was set for a decisive hard-fought clash and Game 4 did not disappoint, as the two sides exchanged blows for 40 minutes and the end of regulation found the scored tied at 72.
|Partizan captain Joffrey Lauvergne with the Serbian League trophy (photo: Nenad Negovanovic/kkpartizan.rs)|
Lauvergne, who finished with 15 points and ten rebounds and Pavlovic, who had 11 points, hit key shots in overtime and with Bogdanovic enjoying the best form of his career and dropping 36 points, Partizan clinched a 95-87 triumph in the extra period and walked away with their title defence mission complete.
"I am very happy and pleased to have won this trophy," said Partizan head coach Dusko Vujosevic.
"I consider it as one of the biggest successes in the history of Partizan.
"Of all the championships I've won, I can say I regard this as my favourite.
"Not because it is the last, but because we had a lot of injuries, a catastrophic financial situation and my players are unpaid heroes.
Vujosevic, who has been battling a bad case of diabetes, added that work had not affected his health but, on the contrary, he was sure his physical state would improve thanks to this victory.
"The key to this championship was the character of the team, which came out after the loss in the first game," Pavlovic commented.
"After that we played very good defence and we controlled the rebounds.
"As for Bogdan [Bogdanovic], I do not know what I could add about him with words after the exhibition that people have seen on the floor."