Belgian Lions open the European Basketball Championship in Georgia with a stunt in the lion’s den

Belgian Lions open the European Basketball Championship in Georgia with a stunt in the lion’s den
Belgian Lions open the European Basketball Championship in Georgia with a stunt in the lion’s den

The Belgian Lions started their fifth consecutive European Championship very nervous. Solid in defense, but the first seven shots did not yield a point. Fortunately, Georgia was also not alert and the Lions reacted immediately after the study round (0-4) to a 9-9 score via Lecomte. Tabu relieved Lecomte excellently, immediately dropped a bomb and Belgium closed the first quarter with a 16-11 bonus. Gillet also came off the bench “hot” and immediately delivered two bombs and led, with a three-pointer from Mwema, the Belgian Lions after 18-15 to a maximum 27-15. The triple towers, Shermadini (2m17), Bitadze (NBA, 2m13) and Mamukelashvili (NBA, 2m11) did not dominated the rebound in the first half, but did lead Georgia to a 33-25 score in a physical battle. However, the second slide went to the Belgians via a secure Lecomte, who withdrew into the break with a 38-32 bonus.

National coach Dario Gjergja Lions are also sharp at the start of the second half. Vanwijn with a bomb and Obasohan pushed the Belgian Lions with a 5-0 intermediate sprint to a 43-32 bonus. The Belgians continued to dominate, Mwema dropped two bombs in a row and after 51-43 also won the third slide with 20-19. That meant that the final quarter started the final quarter with a 58-51 score.

In that final quarter, Obasohan immediately opened with a two-pointer and a bonus free throw: 61-51. In a hellish atmosphere, however, the Belgian Lions lost the momentum. American Georgian McFadden was the driving force behind the comeback and after a 0-10 intermediate sprint, a 62-61 score flickered on the scoreboard. The Lions were upset and Georgia walked further away to 62-67. Mwema put things in order, scoring five points in a row and ensuring the connection: 67-67. With one minute left on the clock, Ismael Bako again thought Belgium took the lead: 70-69. Both teams missed free throws and extra time was a fact at 70-70.


In overtime, the Belgian Lions regained the lead after a three-pointer at 73-72. Both teams missed open shots and national coach Dario Gjergja took a time-out at 74-74 with one minute from the end. Ismael Bako managed the 76-74, but with 11 seconds from the end the Georgians received another gift from the refs after a slight Belgian error. Mamukelashivili used the two free throws (76-76). Jonathan Tabu dropped a bomb 79-76 three seconds from the end. Immediately good for a stunt win.

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“I am proud of my selection to keep a cool head in these circumstances. It is also important that we open the European Championship with a win. Enjoy for a while and try to confirm against Montenegro on Saturday,” said national coach Dario Gjergja.

“We showed our heart in defense”

It was 36-year-old Jonathan Tabu, the oldest player of the Belgian Lions, who gave the Belgian Lions the victory against Georgia at the European Basketball Championship. He scored a three-pointer with 3 seconds left in extra time.

“I had to do something,” Tabu explained why he decided to shoot. “There were eight, seven seconds left. I had no other option. I have taken my responsibility. At such a moment it is no longer about tactics, but you just have to follow your gut feeling.” Does it help that you are at a European Championship for the fifth consecutive time? “I think so. The opponent had come back and I felt a little nervous, but you know you have to stay calm and actually we made the difference in defense.”

Retin Obasohan fully supported Tabu: “The defense was incredible. We showed our hearts, played for the country and for each other. Coach Gjergja had told me in advance that my focus had to be completely on McFadden, because of his capabilities on the attacking front.” Obasohan stole the ball a total of six times, taking more steals than the entire Georgian squad.

In the fourth quarter, Belgium seemed to go under, but the Lions fought back in the match. Obasohan agreed: “Certainly. We’ve had several matches that we fell apart in the third or fourth quarter. The fact that that has not happened now, but that we were still able to win in extra time, shows that we are taking the right steps.”

Tabu and Obasohan were remarkably calm in their interviews after the overtime thriller. “We shouldn’t be too emotional,” said Tabu. “We also won the first game at the previous European Championship, but nothing came after that. It is not over yet. The next match is equally important.”

Belgium-Georgia (after extra time) 79-76

Quartz: 16-11, 22-21, 20-19, 12-19, 9-6

Belgium: (26 on 66 shots, of which 12 on 32 three-pointers, 15 on 24 free throws and 27 errors) LECOMTE 8-2, OBASOHAN 2-7, VANWIJN 3-3, DE ZEUW 5-3, BAKO 6-5, Mwema 3-11 , Tabu 5-9, Gillet 6-0, Tumba 0-0, Libert 0-0

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Belgian Lions open European Basketball Championship Georgia stunt lions den

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