The contrast with the first match of the Belgian Lions was great. The Tbilisi Arena was eerily empty this time and the Belgian aggressiveness was initially missing with the fans.
The strong center Dubjlevic, team mate of Sam Van Rossom at Valencia, was given way too much space and hurt Belgium a lot under the boards and from behind the three-point line. The Belgians also had a hard time getting a grip on the naturalized American Kendrick Perry.
While the Lions were still collectively at the meeting against Georgia, it was mainly Retin Obasohan who kept his team in the match in the 1st half. With 16 points before halftime, he almost single-handedly ensured that the difference at halftime was still limited: 37-32.
The Belgian defeat was mainly due to a dramatic 3rd quarter, in which Vladimir Mihailovic – still MVP in the Belgian league in 2021 – also unleashed his devils. For example, after half an hour there was a gap of 18 points on the board.
Still, the Lions were able to claw their way into the 4th quarter. After a 10-0 intermediate sprint by the Belgians, there seemed to be a turning point for a while, but the experienced Montenegrins kept their cool.
So one in two for the Belgians, who were able to avert a bigger defeat thanks to a much better 4th quarter. That may prove crucial in the remainder of the group stage, in which goal difference may also be important.
The top 4 advance to the next round. To be there, Belgium will still have to win at least once. On Sunday, the Lions will look world champions in the eye of Spain, Tuesday and Wednesday will follow matches against Turkey and Bulgaria.