The tournament in Belgrade was pretty strong, even though some of the best prospects were missing. Mega Bemax and Cibona were the best two teams in the end and advanced to the Final 4 where they’ll be joined with the two best teams from the tournament that was played in Zadar – Crvena Zvezda and Primorska.
I’ve watched all 15 games in the Belgrade group and let’s take a look at the best prospects on the tournament.
Nikola Đurišić (Mega Bemax; SG/SF | 202 cm | ‘04)
Even though he was one of the youngest players in the tournament (that had a bigger role in his team), he was one of the best players in his team that finished the tournament without a loss. He has all the tools to become a great player. High IQ, good body (even though it isn’t fully developed yet), great instincts, good athlete, confident and focused on the court. In offense he has an almost complete game. Great court vision and passing out of pick&roll situations, good scorer – especially in spot up situations. Reads the defense really well and knows when it’s better to shot and when to penetrate. Also moves really well without the ball and has really high court awareness. Needs to work on his ball handling skills so he can beat his opponents easier on 1vs1 situations but his handles are decent for his size and age. In defense he has good reactions and legs, can also defend on post up situations and rarely late on rotations. He is an active rebounder and has a great anticipation and feel for rebounds. His game is at a really high level for his age already but has some room to improve in all aspects.
Aleksandar Langović (Mega Bemax; PF | 205 cm | ‘01)
Dominated in the paint all tournament long. No team had a player that could be a good matchup for him – most power forwards were too weak and bigger players were to slow for him. Good, strong body with great leaping ability. Has a really good anticipation for rebounds and blocks and protected the rim really well. Has good legs too and he could defend players on perimeter. Strong finisher around the rim but showed some good touch too. He has 3pt range but still needs more work to be a consistent shooting threat. Hasn’t shown much feel for game and dominated mostly because of his physical tools so further evaluation is needed when he plays against better and physically stronger opponents/matchups.
Luka Paunović (Mega Bemax; SG/SF | 197 cm | ‘02)
Another Mega Bemax player that stood out to me. Great two-way player, reminded me a little on Vladimir Lučić. Played aggressive in defense, on- and off-ball. Has solid length and body for his position. His movements were on point, wasn’t doing any unnecessary moves in offense or defense. Offensively he isn’t the most consistent scorer yet but mechanics look solid. Showed some glances as a good passer too. Has the ability to get in the lane and finish around the rim. He has the killer mentality and usually stepped up in clutch time when his team needed points the most.
Sandro Rašić (Cibona; SG | 196 cm | ‘01)
Was a true leader of Cibona. Talking a lot with his teammates, always motivating them and pushing them forward. Great scorer potential. Even though his percentages from distance weren’t the best this tournament, the mechanics look good. Quick release, good ball rotation and direction, doesn’t need much space to pull the trigger. Also showed some driving abilities and had some good finishes around the rim, where he can finish with contact. In defense he was usually guarding the best opponent’s players and guarded them pretty good where he uses his strong body very wisely.
Filip Paponja (Cibona; PG | 188 cm | ‘02)
The most creative player on the tournament. Averaged 6.6 points per game and 8.4 assists per game – tournament high in assists. Has great handles, great ball control and quick change of speed. His court vision is on really high level, scans the floor really well and has everything under control. Great timing and accuracy with his passes – delivered accurate full court, behind the back and no-look passes but sometimes wanted too much and create a highlight pass but resulted in a turnover. Played solid on ball defense with good anticipation for steals. Has good first step, can beat his defender and a decent shot but still needs some work on his jump shot and become a bigger scoring threat.
Luka Tarlać (Partizan; SF | 202 cm | ‘02)
Probably the best defensive player on the tournament. High lockdown defender potential. Great athletic capabilities combined with very good anticipation, great lateral movements and quick legs & hands. Was the tournament best in steals and blocks. His movements look very fluid, has good body and length for his position. Has good instincts in defense and his rotations from the helpside are rarely late. In offense he has still a lot of work to do. Struggles with his shot – from distance and from free throw line. Makes bad reads – doesn’t know when to shoot or when to penetrate. A lot of room for improvements in his offball movements too. Solid finisher around the rim, especially on open court. Showed some good passes and court vision on drives but still not on the highest level.
Nikola Radovanović (Partizan; SF | 204 cm | ‘03)
A really talented and unique prospect. Versatile player, can play on all position from 1-4. His shooting mechanics have improved a little in last year but still room for improvement. Expected to see him more in a playmaking role in this tournament with more ball in his hands. His movements are fluid for his size, has long strides, good agility and good body control on drives. Can be really dangerous on open court and hard to stop in fastbreaks. Left hander and need to improve his ball handling with right hand that looks really shaky so far. His first step in really good, can penetrate and get to the free throw line easily. In defense his length and solid footwork enable him to cover much ground and also has solid reactions in defense. The body isn’t fully developed yet but definitely a must follow player and one of the most talented in his generation.
Fedor Žugić (Budućnost; SG | 197 cm | ‘03)
Probably the player that stood out the most in the tournament. Has great scoring instinct. He can get in the lane easily and looks for contact at the rim. His jumper has improved in last year, the mechanics look fine and also shots with confidence – the shooting percentages were very good this tournament on big sample size. His athletic abilities like speed, quickness, explosiveness and jump are on a high level too. Showed some good off balls movements/cutts during the tournament and also some good reads in offense. In defense his feet are quick and can play good on-ball defense on perimeter. Struggled against bigger players on low post but I think his body isn’t fully developed yet and his upper body will become stronger in next years. Also need to improve his off-ball defense where he was sometimes late in rotations. What stands out in him the most is his confidence and “mamba mentality” – he is fully focused and plays the same way no matter the score or opponent.
Marko Brekić, Lukša Buljević, Vito Porobić, Lovro Gnjidić, Vuk Bošković, Kosta Kondić, Đorđe Topolović, Stefan Todorović, Luka Medved
Report written by Marko Turk (@turkmarko)