On Thursday-evening, Luxembourg played the 5th out of 6 games of the pre-qualification tournament for the World Championship 2023. The FLBB-squad faced the host Kosovo and managed to beat them, the final score was 99:89. After a very strong first half, Luxembourg had a 9-point-lead but the decision came in the final minutes when Vujakovic, Kovac and Co. had a great finish. It is the second win in a row in this pre-qualification for our national team. Overall, it was an amazing team win, Luxembourg shared the ball and fought on every possession.
Starting 5 for Luxembourg: Rugg, Laurent, Vujakovic, Delgado, Gutenkauf
Luxembourg could not have had a better start into the game. Shots were falling, Laurent had a highlight-dunk and Kovac hit a late 3 in the first quarter – Luxembourg led 32:23. With a fast playing style, the team was able to create good shots and had a great shooting percentage to start the game.
In the second quarter, Kosovo came out a lot more aggressive and reduced the deficit point by point (31:34). However, Luxembourg showed a great reaction to the opponent’s run: Laurent (16 points in the first half), Vujakovic (12) and Rugg (10) kept scoring under the basket and from outside. Kovac, Gutenkauf and Kalmes added 5 points a piece. All in all, it was an amazing first half for the FLBB-squad and they led 55:46 at the break.
In the first minutes of the second half, Luxembourg had some unforced errors and Kosovo quickly came back into the game, Luxembourg’s lead melted down to 1 point. After a time-out by coach Ken Diederich, Luxembourg regained control of the game and showed a good reaction.
In the final quarter, everything was possible. Kovac gave Luxembourg a huge spark with some nice baskets, hence Kosovo stayed in the game. The decision came in the final minutes … Melcher had a nice steal and layup while Vujakovic added a difficult jump shot to put Luxembourg up by 7 points (91:84). Kosovo did not give up but Luxembourg stayed calm and won this nail-biter in the end.
Kovac, Rugg, Vujakovic and Laurent scored 18 points or more while Melcher, who had his big return to the national team, helped Luxembourg come up with this second victory in this pre-qualification!
game stats –> game stats Kosovo – Luxembourg 18.02.2021
Notes around the game/qualification:
– Luxembourg is in a « bubble » in Kosovo because of the Covid-19-virus.
– Co-captain Grün is not available for both games this week because he was tested positive last week.
– On Saturday (16:00), Luxembourg will play against Iceland to finish the campaign. They will arrive in Luxembourg on Sunday.
Watch some video-highlights here: