Scorers – Vienna: Jones 25, Jogela 16, Hughes and Murati each 11, Vrabac 9, Vujoševič 5, Siriščevič 4, Rados 2
The start of the semi-final duel was very cautious, the first points of the match came at the end of the second minute from Bachan. It was the home forward who build up Patrioti to 7:0 streak, to which the guests responded with a timeout. After that, Vienna responded with 5 points in a row, but Levice didn’t let their rhytym to go off. The home team, with great support from the crowd, got hott, in these moments McCallum bank the shots. With his contribution, Levice scored 12 points in a row, resulting in a double-digit lead. Vienna had no answer to their opponent’s play in the first quarter, punishing holes in the defense gave the home team a 28:12 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Vienna added more to their game and managed to narrow the gap for a while. Jones was the biggest threat to the defense of Levice, but then the Patriots got into their game. Freeman got the home crowd fired up, and when Bachan rejoined him, the game was back on right track. Overall, the home team had tremendous energy, with good finishing they went into halftime with a favorable score of 53:32.
After the break, it was again similar in the beginning of third quarter, Vienna was the more active team in this phase. Levice responded at the right moment, successfully withstood another streak and continued to control a comfortable lead. In the end, they relaxed their concentration and defensive effort, and the guests closed the gap to 12 points by the end of the third quarter – 72:60. Vienna didn’t give up hope for a turnaround, which was evident right from the start of last quarter. Levice’s lead was gradually shrinking, everything was coming to a climax at the very end. Five minutes before the end, the difference was only one possession. That’s when the Patriots’ moment came, two important baskets gave them a slight psychological advantage. The ending brought a huge battle for every ball, with the Levice handling the key moments better, leading them to the coveted advancement to the finals.
Michal Madzin, coach of Levice:“I have to say it was an incredibly high energy game. The way we fought for the whole 40 minutes, but in the first 20 minutes we may have caught our opponent off guard. I thought that was unbelievable, hats off to them. We enjoyed the support of the crowd. Maybe it was the fans that allowed us to give us the extra energy, it’s hard to find it in an empty arena. The important thing to say is that Vienna showed what a strong team they are. They hit some incredibly difficult shots, they had an inside game that attacked us and it was hard to stop them. It makes what we achieved all the more valuable.”
Šimon Krajčovič, player of Levice:“Important win. We accomplished the first of the two steps we set for the Final Four. We knew it was going to be a very tough game, but we were all looking forward to it. The better the opponent, the more motivation for us players to go into the game full and focused. We’ve trained hard all year to get here. We went to enjoy it. I think we set the tone of the game from the beginning. The first half helped us a lot, we created a lead in the first half. Even though Vienna was able to pull away and it was a dramatic game, I’m glad we showed character and kept the win.”
Aramis Naglić, coach of Vienna:“It’s tough when you’re down 35 minutes into the game. Levice already had problems, we lacked a bit of concentration and strength. We played with a lot of intensity in the second half, you need 8-9 capable players for that. The bench didn’t have that energy and didn’t help. Congratulations to Levice, they played a great game. We are not in a very good place right now, but we’ll get it right.”
Andre Jones, player of Vienna:“Tough loss, but congratulations to Levice. They impressed me in the first half. Under coach Madzin they looked like a top level team that could play and win in Europe. I’m excited about Krajčovič, who I played with in the national team. The way he leads the team, he doesn’t lose the ball, I just want to play with him. We got outplayed in the first half, then in the second half we played our game, normal basketball, and came back in the game. The crowd supported them, which was important, and they showed that they are their sixth player.”