I have spent this 1st of May in the Palalido in Milano, Italy to follow the final day of the 25th edition of the Victor Rho Tournament. Unfortunately, this year’s edition did not feature the same amount of talent than the years before because of the International Junior Tournament played in Madrid. For this reason, Real Madrid and FMP were only present with their reserve players in Rho and some smaller teams took profit of this situation.
The tournament in the under 18 category has been won by KK Split from Croatia. The team of coach Ante Nazor beat Olimpija Ljubljana in an at the end close final 65-61. Split was up nearly all the game and had a larger lead but it was the Slovenian three-point shooting that brought them back closer in the end when the Croats probably felt already as the winners.
Mario Delas, who I covered already during the Albert-Schweitzer Tournament this spring was the clear leader of the Split team. The 2m08 tall PF was everywhere on the court, he even help to bring the ball sometimes up which he can do because he has well developed ball handling skills for a player of his size. Delas started the game with a three point shot after a pick and pop play, but he missed the shot. He showed however that he has the range to make shots from outside with good percentages in the future. His force is when he can attack his defender face to the basket. He loves to receive the ball down low, face his opponent and beat him of the dribble which he did several times with success. In the second half, he went more and more for back to the basket play which he tried to finish on some kind of turn around fade away jump shot where he was less successful than on the face up moves. Delas will form together with Leon Radosevic and Tomislav Zubcic the probably most versatile and front court of the upcoming U18 European Championships.
Olimpija Ljubljana was lead by its two back court shooters Mirza Sarajlija and Matic Sirnk. Both are born in 1991 and were so one year younger than the competition. While Sarajlija plays more the PG position, Sirnk is a pure wing player (2m00 tall) that can hit three point shots in series. More of a catch-and-shot guy who lives from the dishes of his team mates, he can also create his own shot by driving and stopping to go up for the jumper but he prefers to hit the long range shot after a nice pass. Sarajlija shows the same nice shooting mechanics but he was more of a creator himself. While doing this, he forced a lot of difficult drives or shots and was so put on the SG position later in the game.
The reserve team of FMP finished at the third place but I want to focus on a player from the 4th placed Bosna Sarajevo. I want to speak about the 1m94 tall guard Eldin Camdzic. The guard was the absolute go-to-guy of the Bosnian team. And he is a scorer. Totally off his long distance shot in the beginning of the game, he scored a lot on drives with his right hand which he finished close to the rim in some kind of hang-time lay-up. He still went for the open long distance shots but could not make them. So his team trailed. And when he hit his first three pointer in the third quarter from the corner, this was a relief to him and a signal for his team to play for the win. In the end, Bosna could not overcome FMP but they showed some interesting defensive pressure with Camdzic sometimes at the top to play on the FMP PGs.
The probably most interesting game was the Final of the U14 tournament which faced off a selection of the best youngsters from Catalonia and the team from FMP. The Catalans were the triple defending champions but this time, it was not enough to overcome a FMP team that featured some very interesting talent. I won’t go into the details as these kids are only 13 or 14 years old and it is way to far to discuss their possible future here. So I will just mention the names of some former MVPs of the tournament in the U14 category which shows the level of the previous editions. 1996 and 1997 Kresimir Loncar, 1998 Roko Leni Ukic, 1999 Rudy Fernandez, 2000 Martynas Andriuskevicius, 2005 Josep Franch and so the MVP of this year’s edition is a little PG from FMP called Dusan Kosanic.