Academic Sofia turned it up a notch from the start of the game.
Unfortunately for them, so did LiAngelo Ball.
Gelo carried the workload on offense and scored 65 points to lead Team JBA USA to a 138-133 victory over Academic Sofia on Friday night at St. George International School in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Ball 65 points is an International Tour high for JBA USA (14-3).
“My team needed it,” Gelo said. “We had to pull ahead on offense. I wanted to get the team going, so I had to get the lead myself. I just picked it up on offense and they followed. We had to drop back more and be focused on defense. We let them get easy layups. We clamped up and got more rebounds. That helped. I got a lot of confidence in my teammates. If i’m playing hard, I know they’ll pick it up too.”
Team JBA USA fell from behind real quick, being down by 15 points, but bounce back despite having five flagrant fouls and a technical foul from Head Coach Doyle Balthazar.
To make matters worse, Jordan Ray went down in the third quarter with an ankle injury, but remained in the game. Ray scored 13 points while dishing out 12 assists and grabbing six rebounds.
Curtis Hollis scored 32 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and stealing the ball eight times for JBA USA while Melvin Davis scored six points to go along with 10 rebounds and four blocks before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“There was a lot of intensity,” Hollis said. “There’s a lot of intensity in every game we play. We had to grit this one out. It was everybody against us. It’s us against the world. We just had to grit it out and we did. We made a lot of adjustments at halftime. We had to swarm. We went from a 2-2-1 to a match. We had to switch it up. We just wanted to give them a different look. It helped and it was great.”
JBA USA stole the ball 11 times to Academic eight steals. JBA USA turned the ball over 15 times to Academic 18 turnovers.
Alexander Milov led Academic with 28 points and Andrey Ivanov scored 27 points to go with his 13 rebounds and eight assists while Nikolay Grozav added 18 points.
Nikolay Nikolov scored 24 points to go with his 11 boards and six assists for Academic. Most of Nikolov points came with authoritative dunks that kept the momentum on Academic side.
Lychezar Dimitrov scored five points with seven assists and six rebounds for Academic while Kostadin Lazarov and Tsvetomir Chernokozhev each scored 10 points before both players fouled out for Academic.
Deon Lyle scored 12 points with seven rebounds and six assists while Harrison Rieger added eight points and grabbed seven boards for JBA USA.
JBA USA will next head to Romania on Tuesday for their final game in Europe. JBA USA will resume play in December in China.