Igokea dominates Adriatic League. Next stop Euroleague?
KK Igokea Aleksandrovac from Bosnia (Serbian part) played at home tonight against KK Red Star Telekom from Serbia. It was a show-down between No. 1 and No. 2 of the Adriatic League, and also between the best defense (Igokea) and the best offense (Red Star).
The game was sold out weeks in advance and the gym was packed an hour before tip-off. Although visiting fans are not allowed in the Adriatic League almost a third of the spectators came in red and white to cheer for Red Star.
The game fulfilled all expectations as it was full of drama, competitiveness, emotions and sensation. In the end, Igokea scored a 3-pointer with only three seconds left and that brought them the 80-77 victory.
Interesting detail: in this showdown between Bosnian Serbs (Igokea) and Serbs from Serbia proper (Red Star), it was the only Croat in the gym (Siniša Štemberger) who decided the game with his last second three-pointer. It was his only field goal in the entire game.
It looks like this victory will ensure Igokea’s participation in the Euroleague next year! Why? Because for the first time the teams from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia can no longer qualify for the Euroleague via their own national championships, but ONLY via the Adriatic League. That practically degrades the national championships, while it makes the Adriatic League more important than ever.
The winner of the regular season in the Adriatic League qualifies directly for the group phase of the Euroleague, while the only other spot goes to the winner of the Final 4. The third best team does not qualify directly for the Euroleague, but has to go through the qualification round.
Igokea now has three victories more than the number two (Partizan and Red Star) and with only eight games left in the regular season it is very unlikely that they would let the first place slip out of their hands.
With this new format, it could mean that for the first time in history there will be no team from Slovenia or Croatia in the Euroleague next season. Also, Partizan Belgrade from Serbia is not sure of participation yet.
Partizan played a crucial game in Belgrade tonight, against KK Budućnost VOLI from Podgorica, Montenegro. The teams ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the league before tonight’s game. Partizan won with 63-50 and now shares the second spot in the league with eternal rival Red Star.
Adriatic League Standings
This Week’s Matches[matches league_id=1 match_day=18 template=summary dateformat=”M. j, Y”]
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Next Week’s Matches[matches league_id=1 match_day=19 template=sumnoscore dateformat=”M. j, Y”]
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Euroleague it is…