ABA League Basketball: Zadar Gets first Win for Croatia

Burak Canboy

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Photos by Burak Canboy

(October 14, 2023, Split) In the third round of the Basketball ABA League, Croatian side KK Zadar managed to defeat KK Mornar from Bar in Montenegro 92:57 (36:20) to get the first win of the season for the three Croatian competitors. This was Zadar’s second game within 48 hours, after impressively defeating KK Alkar from Sinj in the Croatian top tier game on Wednesday 106:73 (59:36).

The season draw had Zadar’s head coach Danijel Jusup start against the three clubs from Montenegro and he finally managed to prepare his team well after the previous 103:73 loss at Budućnost VOLI Podgorica and the 88:75 defeat at the other Podgorica club SC Derby Studentski Centar. Guest coach Mihailo Pavićević however had to witness a terrible defeat against the very well defending hosts. Zadar managed to stop Mornar from scoring for almost the entire first quarter before Marko Kovačević was able to put Mornar on the board with a dunk in the 8th minute to make it 9:2. Zadar’s defense was efficient and impressive, so was Luka Bozić, last year’s Croatian Final MVP, who was top scorer of the game with 28 points. Zadar led the game from beginning until the end and was even able to send the bench players onto the court during most of the fourth quarter.

While Zadar now locked in the first points,  financially drained Cibona Zagreb and the Yellows from Split are still blank. Cibona, who are currently in a bankruptcy proceeding trying to accomplish a company restructuring, started into the competition with a 86:79 loss in Serbia at Borac Čačak and could not pull it off at home against FMP Belgrade either (89:93).

KK Split, also known as Jugoplastika, was lucky with the draw and was able to start with two home games. Head coach Slaven Rimac who replaced Srđan Subotić after the end of last season, received Derby Podgorica at home for the season starter but had to watch the guests take away the points after the 72:76 defeat. The second home game against Igokea Aleksandrovac from Bosnia brought no better result. After Split lost the high scoring game 90:95, Rimac currently finds himself far from the top. He was able to win the ABA League with Cibona back in 2014.

Split and Cibona have yet to play their third round games. However they are both playing away from home and are the underdogs in the upcoming fixtures. Split will play against Olimpija Ljubljana today at 15:00 and Cibona Zagreb will play against the reigning ABA League champion and Euroleague top club Partizan Belgrade at 21:00.

Links to ABA League game stats:

Zadar – Mornar

Ljubljana – Split

Partizan – Cibona

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