The teams at the Final 4: KK Blokotehna-NB
12 months later KK Blokotehna-NB is back in a similar position. Last April, in its first Balkan League season, the Gevgelija side finished second in the standings to reach the Final Four. Now the team did the same thing, by having 9 wins and 3 defeats, and is again in the semifinal of the competition. Now, having brought back most of the players from 1 year ago, the hunger for success will be even bigger and everybody will look to make one step further.
In the first semifinal at SIGAL UNIQA Balkan League Final Four Blokotehna will have to face BC Academic Bultex 99. During the Regular season the teams exchanged wins on their home courts. Of course the game on Saturday will be a different one so the previous results won′t matter. The sides are pretty evenly matched so it′s hard to say that one is the favorite over the other.
It′s fair to say that Blokotehna′s game centers around Danilo Mijatovic. The 35-year old veteran is having a tremendous season averaging 25.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and an efficiency rating of 26.6 which gives him the first position in that ranking. The Serbian can literally do it all on the court so really a very big part of the team′s success relies on him. He can shoot triples, he can p?ss and he is really the focus of Blokotehna′s offense and the opponent′s defense. Mijatovic dominated during the Regular season and was instrumental in leading the team to the second place. It′s an interesting fact that the Serbian had his two best games in the meetings against the semifinal opponent - Academic Bultex 99. In the first one in Gevgelija he finished wit 37 points while in the second in Plovdiv he scored 41. It′s safe to say that if Blokotehna is to have any success in the Final Four, then Mijatovic will have to be at his best.
Blokotehna doesn′t have a deep rotation as the team uses seven players who are averaging more than 22 minutes per game and two who have 11.3 and 14,1 respectively (Stefan Gligorijevikj and Voiche Lefkovski). At the guard position a lot depends on Marjan Mladenovikj. He is the best p?sser in the competition with 8.6 assists in 10 games so his performance and organization of the offense is something that was hard to stop during the season. The captain Goran Glavchev is another perimeter player who is growing season after season and his bigger experience is making him read the game better. By being the team′s third best scorer and second best p?sser, Glavchev′s role is as important as anyone′s. So for a F4 success he is also someone to watch for in Tirana as he′ll try to carry his regular season form, or even improve it, in the Albanian capital. Petar Nikolikj is sharing minutes at both guard positions and is one of the pleasant surprises this season. You can′t expect him to score a lot in each game but he is doing a lot of little things, he is trying to be in the right spots at the right time and has been valuable in the journey to the Finals.
The American Brandon Penn has had a good season so far and is used at positions 3 and 4. The forward is averaging 14.3 points and 6.4 rebounds having played in all 12 games so far. His performance is crucial for Blokotehna is when he plays well enough, that means that the team is in a great position to win. Penn is an excellent addition to Mijatovic, regardless of whether the latter is used as a power forward or center, so we can expect the two of them to try and combine their best in Tirana.
Bozo Djumic is the only player who came in Blokotehna after the season started. He replaced the Lithuanian Povilas Gaydis and did well in four games - 13.8 points. However, being a center you could expect more than 3.3 rebounds per match and this is something he′ll have to improve. This is valid especially for the game against Academic Bultex 99 in the semifinals as the Plovdiv side is the best rebounding team in the competition.
Marjan Ilievski is a coach who knows the Balkan League very well. He is a former winner with KB Sigal Prishtina and led Blokotehna to the Final Four last season. He and his coaching staff like to be well prepared for each game and this is something they′ll do for Academic as well. Ilievski likes his team to play aggressive defense and with a lot of movement on offense. Hopefully for him and the management of the Gevgelija team, the mistakes from last season′s Final 4 won′t be repeated and Blokotehna will be able to at least reach the Final.
Without doubt the ambitions of the team are to least improve it position from 12 months ago which means going to the final. Blokotehna is a team that likes to win, that aims big and that will give its 100% no matter what. Whether that′ll be enough we′ll know next Saturday but anything less will not satisfy nobody in the club.