Three of the four quarters belonged to Donar on Tuesday evening, but it was not enough against Rapid Bucharest. With a 69-65 defeat, the European ambitions of the Groningen team were halted.
Donnar will have to fend for himself this year after going bankrupt and restarting last summer. In this regard, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the club not to make greater use of the travel budget next season. But coach Andrej Stimac and his teammates were left in a state of sporting addiction on Tuesday evening after the second small defeat during the FIBA Euro Cup qualifiers in Skopje.
While Donar defeated Sabah BC of Azerbaijan on Monday evening by a score of 73-70, they were again only a few points behind Rapid the next day. It was clear in advance that it would essentially be a battle of attrition. The Groningers, who also played an early game on Monday, had three more hours of rest than their opponents, but playing two games in two days is a big task for any basketball player.
Additionally, both teams had a limited number of players available due to injuries. While Donar players Jordi Kuiper and Sam van Oostrom were absent, star player Alteric Gilbert and his replacement Tudor Sočescu were absent from the Romanian team. However, there remained a top-notch goalkeeper in the form of Cambodian-American Said Bridget, who, among other things, inflicted great damage on the Groningen team with 20 points.
Not at home
Donar started the important task in North Macedonia well with a three-pointer from Slovenian David Gabrovic as the first score, but it quickly became clear that the strength and energy to achieve good basketball was missing. The Northerners performed poorly in passing and finishing. Only five of his nineteen three-pointers slid across the hoop and Donnar also lacked sharpness near the basket. Sander Hollanders, who has been at his best so far when it comes to long shots, also failed to score against Rapid.
One trait continued to characterize Donar’s young team against the Romanians. This was stubbornness. Although the situation looked hopeless after a very poor second quarter, which went down 20-8, Groningen basketball pride continued to fight for it in the second half. This almost resulted in a comeback in an already losing match. After trailing 41-29 at the start of the third period, Donar tied the score at 54-54 thanks to a three-pointer from Lithuanian Karolis Babusis.
The last spasm
In the end it turned out to be the final convulsion. Thanks to a good long shot from American veteran Turlin Fitzpatrick, among others, Rapid Bucharest put things right and Groninger fell behind.
It’s not quite ready yet for Donar in Skopje. There is one more match left in the qualifying group on Thursday, but the match against host Rabotnicki will no longer give Stimac’s men the coveted ticket to the main tournament of the FIBA Europe Cup. This dream must be postponed for at least a year, if the budget that allows coach Drago Pasalic to form his team is worthy of another European Cup.
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