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NIJT Belgrade 2012: Day 3 Review

February 26th, 2012 · No Comments

The last day of the Nike International Junior Tournament in Belgrade came to an end with a great final between two teams that were on the same level. Let’s take a look what happened today in the packed Basket City Hall in Belgrade.

The day started early with the match for the fifth place between Brose Baskets and INSEP. The French players had no real problems to win this contest as they were led by a great Boris Dallo in the backcourt who took over the scoring of Anthony Racine who sat out. Mam Jaiteh used his size against the short German team to grab a multitude of rebounds and scored on the putbacks. Nothing special to add so the French finished on a probably disappointing 5th place for them.

In the game for the third place, Hemofarm started without their usual Starting 5 which Mega Vizura used pretty well in order to get up in the beginning. Dusan Stankovic did some damage in the paint while Nikola Tijanic helped on the scoring side as well. Rade Zagorac showed some interesting things as well but when Sinisa Cvetanovic and especially Nikola Milutinov came back to the court, it became another game. However, the difference was made and Mega Vizura could reach an un-estimated 3rd place in the tournament.

The Final of the tournament then was a pure beauty. The first half was amazing as both teams played really well on the two ends of the court. Partizan was lead by an incredible Nikola Radicevic in the first 20 minutes where the Serbian guard drove to the basket at will and scored a multitude of difficult shots with contact or the foul. Nikola Majic showed his versatility but also his lack of shot and these two drove their team over Crvena Zvezda that was in early foul trouble with Nikola Rebic and Brano Djukanovic benched with 2. In the second quarter, Partizan ran away and made the largest break on the halftime buzzer beater where Mladen Djordjevic scored 4 points within a few seconds as he stole the ball twice and even made the last shot lying on the floor after a dive for the ball. The over-packed arena was delighted.

Zvezda came out of the locker room with a different attitude and closed the gap relatively fast. Rebic lead his group now with his presence and drove multiple times to the basket to give his big guys open looks. Dusan Ristic used these passes to score his points and Nikola Jankovic was doing the dirty work. The PF had an amazing 18 rebounds and 8 blocks at the end. Zvezda took the lead and even went up to about 8 points when Partizan decided to fight back into the game. With some risky changes coming from the bench, they kept the hope alive and managed to be within one point in the last minute. Ristic than hit a super difficult turn around jump shot to make the difference back to 3 points but Nikola Radicevic answered with a not less difficult mid range shot to bring it back to 1 with about 20 seconds left. After the time out, Partizan decided not to foul and pressed Zvezda extremely hard. Nikola Cvorovic turned it over and the ball was black. Radicevic was of course the option now but he could not create the necessary space for himself and made a pass to the open Djordjevic instead of forcing. Djordjevic missed his shot though and Zvezda could start to celebrate.

The All-Tournament team that has been voted was the following:

  • Nikola Rebic (Crvena Zvezda)
  • Nikola Radicevic (Partizan Belgrade)
  • Brano Djukanovic (Crvena Zvezda)
  • Nikola Majic (Partizan Belgrade)
  • Nikola Milutinov (Hemofarm Vrsac)

Some other trophies have been handed out to Radicevic, Nikola Jankovic and Dusan Ristic. Unfortunately, we did not understand for which reasons but it was probably best offensive player, best defensive player and MVP. But this has to be confirmed.

As a conclusion, you can say that this tournament was way above the NIJT in Kaunas in terms of level. There was no real top NBA talent like Rasmus Larsen but the level of the teams here was a lot higher. With the qualification of Crvena Zvezda for the Final 8, we have now the defending champions KK Zagreb, Lietuvos Rytas, Zalgiris Kaunas and Red Star Belgrade represented in the event in Turkey. Potential wildcard teams are in my opinion Fenerbahce Ülker, Partizan Belgrade, Hemofarm and FC Barcelona while there have been rumors about the possibility to see the US National Team of U17 play there.

The tournament has been followed by numerous NBA scouts. We saw among others the San Antonio Spurs, the Charlotte Bobcats, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers or the Philadelphia 76ers. The number of Spanish teams was quite low compared to similar events.

Individual scouting reports on the main players will follow during the next week.

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