The Nike International Junior Tournament 2008 is history and the winner is coming from Serbia. Without any big surprise, the 2008 edition goes to FMP Zeleznik who can consider themselves now as the top European youth program after having won all the major tournaments this season.
First of all, I wanted to mention a few quick general thoughts about the tournament. The level was excellent this year and the qualification process through different tournaments was a very good idea. The problem is that not every team from Europe can compete in these tournament and so virtually there might be a better team somewhere in Europe. I hope that the Euroleague can find agreements with other tournament for next season to have an even broader competition.
What is going to happen with the Spanish National Team in a few years? If you take the two represented teams (FC Barcelona and Real Madrid), they had not one Spanish inside player who had any kind of impact. I can understand the responsible persons of the teams to try to bring in the best talent available to have a competitive team. But what about their own National team? With these decision to take like 5 foreigners in a youth team (FC Barcelona), they will hurt the Spanish basketball and what has made him strong for the next generation.
The two teams that finished the tournament without any win were also the two Wildcard teams: Crvena Zvezda and Maccabi Tel Aviv. Both teams featured limited talent compared to the other competitors. While the Israeli team showed the traditional fighting spirit, the Serbian team had the typical Balkan type of players in their squad. Here are some short reviews of the players that caught my eye during the only game I observed both teams.
Carmel Bouchman (2m05 – PF – 1991 – Maccabi Tel Aviv)
The Israeli forward who is listed 2m05 but looks a bit shorter had his best game of the tournament against Zalgiris with 19pts and 12rebs. Bouchman showed nice athletic abilities and also some explosiveness, especially on the offensive rebound. His body is still very thin. His shooting mechanics look a bit strange but he showed long range and even netted several three point shots. He is working hard to rebound, at least in this game. Because he only 4 rebounds in the two other games of the tournament combined.
Lazar Radosavljevic (2m03 – SG – 1991 – Crvena Zvezda)
Radosavljevic showed some interesting skills in Madrid. Besides having a good size to play either as SG or SF, the Serbian kid has a very nice shot which he fire from nearly everywhere on the court. He excels in catch and shoot actions but he can also score close to the basket. He is however relying a lot on his outside stroke, not going too much for drives. On the other hand, he showed better than average passing and court vision.
Nemanja Nedovic (1m91 – PG – 1991 – Crvena Zvezda)
Sometimes, I like players for some kind of reason that I can not explain. Nedovic is such a player. He showed very good scoring skills but he also looked lost on the court during moments. What I liked were for example his drives which were nicely aggressive and he tried to score close to the basket. On the other hand, he also knocked down some three pointers and Nedovic was only 16 during this tournament as he is born in June 1991.
The reports about the teams of the NIJT will continue throughout the week.