Day 5, Group A: Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) 11-10
Beating Dinamo is something all rivals are keen to count on, however, past seasons offered enough proof that underestimating the Georgians could hit back easily (see Olympiacos’ shocking loss last spring). It was Radnicki’s turn in this round and the Serbs found it a lot harder to cash in the ‘compulsory’ three points than expected.
Dinamo began the match much more determined, and early in the second period they jumped to a 2-4 lead. The hosts slowly awakened and after 4-5 they netted two in 26 seconds, still, Saba Tkeshelashvili had the answer from a 6 on 5 to make it 6-6 at the very end of the first half.
Radnicki lacked the necessary edge to break their rival – perhaps the new situation, to have their coach away in the middle of the season (Mr Stevanovic was appointed as the new head coach of the national team and toured in the US with Team Serbia), took its toll. Deep into the third it still stood 7-7, the again, a quick double in 42 seconds should have served a fine calmer, but the Serbs were unable to keep the distance, and Dinamo’s Serbian ace Jovan Saric buried a penalty to halve the gap for 9-8 with 00:56 on the clock.
Aleksa Ukropina’s missed penalty early in the fourth didn’t help to pave Radnicki’s way to victory either, instead of 10-8, soon it was 9-9 as Andrija Vlahovic put away on extra. Marko Radulovic took back the lead for the hosts with a fine man-up goal and with 3:50 to go Nikola Lukic’s blast from the perimeter made it 11-9. In 22 seconds, it was 11-10, Besarion Akhvlediani collected a rebound and sent the ball home from the left wing and there were 3:28 minutes to play.
Radnicki had two man-ups to close down the contest but missed both, so Dinamo had a couple of possessions to save the game into a tie. The Georgians had three shots but none of those caused enough damage and the Serbs could take a deep breath at the end. After a draw with Vouliagmeni and a single-goal win over Hannover, they managed to claim another close win at home, bouncing back a bit after two thrashing defeats in Recco and Barcelona.
How they saw it
Uros Stevanovic, coach, Radnicki
“The only good thing today is the result. I’m not satisfied with the game, but we need to put this match aside and prepare for the next challenges.”
Dejan Stanojevic, coach, Dinamo
“First of all, congrats for Radnicki and Happy New Year for everyone. This has been our best game so far, we had a decent level both in attack and in defence. At the end, experience and the quality of the individuals decided the match in favour of Radnicki. We need to learn that one cannot finish an attack in our last possession with still 10 seconds being on the shot-clock when the draw is at stake. Apart from this, I’m happy with the progress we’ve made so far.”