KK Zadar Only One More Win Away from Croatian Championship Title

Burak Canboy

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Burak Canboy
Burak Canboy

In the first game of the Croatian National Basketball Championship Finals, Zadar convincingly celebrated a victory against Split (81:53). Zadar dominated the entire match and with their dedication, they took the first step towards lifting the trophy for the third time. The main reason for the Zadar celebration was their defense. Coach Veljko Mršić’s squad played with high intensity and aggression. Zadar had 10 rebounds more than the guests and forced Split to 17 turnovers.

During the first match, Antonio Jordano was extremely successful from the three-point range, hitting three of his 6 attempts.

“We played a really good game but we have to leave that behind because the series is long. I think that in the next game we have to play as aggressively and focused as possible because that is the only way we will be able to fulfill some of the goals we agreed on. We have to be at a high level in defense and attack, I think that is the key for tomorrow’s game. We have shown that we play as a team, we play as a team, and that is the most important thing,” said Antonio Jordano last night.

At the same press conference, Veljko Mršić said that one should be careful after the first game. “I expect a good Split, it is still a team that beat Cibona twice in the semifinals. We have no right to relax after yesterday’s victory, regardless of the fact that we have beaten Split four times in a row. We have to continue like this, because this is only the first third of the road, we have two more steps to win the title, that is our wish. We are going step by step, tomorrow is a new game and we are just thinking about that,” said Veljko Mršić.

The normally very relaxed guest coach Mile Karakaš became very emotional during the second half of the game and stayed in Zadar with his team to fully focus on finding a way to crack the Zadar defense. He was able to start with his full roster including Perković who had missed the last game. 

The game started with slight advantages for the home team. Towards the end of the first quarter, Split brought the game to Marin Marić who could not be stopped. However, Zadar was able to pull away again with the last two attacks of the first quarter including a buzzer-beater by Carter for an 18:13 lead. 


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The Yellows were able to shake off the first loss and the issues of the first quarter and continued to put pressure on Zadar’s big men. Despite a low shooting percentage, Split stayed in the game and put up a good fight for the rebounds. With Marić scoring 11 points in the first half, the guests tied the game 28:28 at halftime. 


Burak Canboy

Milan Karakaš had to watch his team’s luck run out in the second half. His team kept fighting against the constantly delivering home team but neither free throws nor important outside shots found their way into the basket.


Burak Canboy

Zadar out-rebounded the guests in the second half by 21:8 while Split could not even score from the free-throw line. A mere 3 shots out of nine found their target.


Burak Canboy

Burak Canboy

Despite his team having the upper hand, Zadar’s top scorer Chinanu Michael Onuaku (19 points) showed some unsportsmanlike conduct in several situations towards the end of the game leading to a verbal dispute with Luka Babić after the final whistle. Maybe he sparked the fire that Split will need to get back into this series.

The next two games will be played in Split on Monday and Wednesday. Zadar only needs one more win to finish the season with their third title.

Referees: Luka Kardum, Tomislav Vovk, Alfred Jovović

Box score: https://fibalivestats.dcd.shared.geniussports.com/u/HKS/1884507/

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