Sarajevo Surprises Split in First ABA Relegation Match

Total Croatia News

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Burak Canboy
Burak Canboy

Jugoplastika veteran Toni Kukoč was present on the VIP stands and witnessed a bitter defeat for his former team in the battle to stay in ABA League 1. The guest team Spars from Sarajevo was able to take away the home-court advantage and could already finish this mini-series with another win at home on Saturday. The team to win two games first will get to play in ABA league 1 next season; the other team will play in the 2nd division.

The Yellows from Split ended up playing in the relegation because their impressive run ended abruptly when they had to take a Corona-break from games and practices just before the end of the season. The previous success that came with new coach Mile Karakaš lost steam, and eventually Split lost their positions in the national league and in the ABA league. While recapturing the second position in the national league, they fell to the last position of the ABA League 1. With Primorska already having withdrawn from the league earlier, the Yellows’ did not drop out of the league directly. Still, they had the right to play relegation against the runner-up in ABA League 2, which turned out to be Sarajevo.


Spars Sarajevo had just lost the championship in Division 2 of the ABA league against Studentski Centar Podgorica. After the regular season, they had qualified for the finals as runner-up. Then Spars lost the two final playoff games against Studentski Centar, who then qualified directly for ABA League 1, while Spars kept the chance to play the relegation games against Split.


The game was conducted under Covid measures, and KK Split had a better start into the game. Sarajevo coach Miodrag Kadija saw his team fight back and take control of the second part of the first quarter and most of the second quarter to secure a slight 46:49 lead at halftime.


Both teams returned eager to fight this game till the last second, and the second half became an intensively fought defensive battle. Just 90 seconds before the final whistle, Split scored for 70:71 that put them in reach of victory. What followed was a wild back and forth where both teams lost the ball several times. The Yellows couldn’t turn the game around and had to watch Lithuanian Orelik Gediminas hit a three-pointer to seal the visitor’s victory.


Sarajevo’s rising star Kenan Kamenjaš was the top scorer and most valuable player of the night with 19 points. Should Split manage to win in Sarajevo on Saturday, the final game would be played in Split again.


Box score: 

Referees: Miloš Koljenšić, Igor Dragojević, Radoš Savović

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