U18 Mega Mozzart Belgrade’s dream of its first Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament title started in superb form with a 70-54 victory over U18 PFYM INSEP Paris to open Group A play at the ANGT Finals. Mega, which lost in the ANGT Championship Game in 2017 and 2019, was led by Nikola Djurisic with 20 points while Bassala Bagayoko collected 17 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Mega, which also got 12 points from Asim Djulovic, survived committing 35 turnovers and making just 21-of-36 free throws for 58.3 percent, thanks mainly to keeping PFYM to just 3-of-27 on three-pointers for 11.1 percent. The two-time champion PFYM was paced by Rayan Rupert with 19 points and 6 steals with Mael Hamon Crespin picking up 11 points and 6 rebounds.
Mega grabs opening win as PFYM offense sputters
Ajinca scored the first points of the tournament on a steal and dunk and Hamon Crespin made it 0-4 early on. Mega punched back with eight of the next 10 points - including a Djurisic three-point play to take its first lead 8-6. PFYM struggled to control Mega big man Bagayoko, who had five points as the advantage was 15-12. Andrija Jelavic added a three-point play for a four-point Mega lead and the score was 20-18 after 10 minutes.
Hamon Crespin knotted the game to start the second quarter but the French side struggled to score consistently while Djurisic and Djulovic combined for 12 points in a 13-3 run to grab a double digit lead 33-23. Rupert hit a three-pointer for PFYM with a minute left in the first half - the team’s first triple after missing its first 16 attempts. The score was 37-28 at the break.
Bagayoko and Jelavic scored to give Mega a 41-28 lead and PFYM failed to score in the first 4 minutes of the second half until Talis Soulhac’s floater. Two baskets by Rupert trimmed the deficit to 44-36, but the offensive issues returned, going scoreless for nearly 3 minutes and Djurisic drained a three-pointer to give Mega a 51-36 cushion, which was 56-39 after 30 minutes.
After Nikola Djapa opened the final quarter, Rupert hit a three-pointer and Noah Penda added a free throw to pull within 58-43. The French team just could not help itself on offense and Djulovic increased the margin to 64-45 with under 6 minutes left. PYFM could get back into the game at all.