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NIJT Barcelona (day 3 & final): KK Zagreb, the champion; Saric, the MVP
Dario Saric ('94) and his teammates of KK Zagreb are the new Euroleague's Nike International Junior Tournament champions after defeating Zalgiris Kaunas in the big final (76-65), held in Palau Sant Jordi (Barcelona). And why forward was named the MVP? Really easy answer. He collected a huge triple-double against lithuanians (19 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists), finishing the event averaging 20.3+12.3+6.3. Eurohopes staff have seen Saric many times during last three seasons, watching crazy performances like this one. He is our number #1# of 1994 born generation. And he will keep number #1# after this tournament, of course. Who completed the All-Tournament Team? Chinese Guo Ailun ('93, China U-19), croatian Mario Hezonja ('95, KK Zagreb), serbian Stefan Popovski-Turanjanin ('93, FMP) and lithuanian Ignas Ramasauskas ('93, Zalgiris Kaunas). Let's check what happened in the third day and in the final.
-KK Zagreb 107 Ulker Fenerbahce 68: Another huge performance of magic trio Saric-Hezonja-Mavra, driving croatians to the big final after a 3-0 record. 10 minutes were enough to earn the first spot of group A. With a 31-12 score turkish could'nt stop these three players, who collected great stats. The deserved to make it to the final. Saric collected a 45 ranking behind 26 points (10/16 twos and 6/9 ft), 16 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 34 minutes. Beside him rising-star, and U-16 prospect, Mario Hezonja ('95) added 26 points (5/8 threes), 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, while guard Dominik Mavra ('94) had 22 with 5 boards and 5 assists. Easy win for them. At turkish side forward Berkay Candan ('93) fought, but his 35 ranking wasn't enough. He nailed 27 points, pulled down 11 boards and made 2 steals. Eurohopes number #1# ranking born 1995, James Metecan Birsen ('95), struggled, finishing fouled with 8 points (1/7 threes) and a -4 ranking.
-INSEP 69 FMP 71: Last game and first win for FMP, one of the favorite teams if Nenad Miljenovic ('93) stayed. The victory came after defeating last edition winner, french of INSEP, with U-16 center Dusan Ristic ('95) collecting a 26 ranking behind 18 points (8/15 FG), 15 boards and 2 blocks. Great contest of the prospect, showing why he is one of the best of his generation. French arrived to the half time 12 points up, but Zeleznik kids came back with Stefan Popovski-Turanjanin ('93) having 19 points (8/13 FG) and youngster point-guard Nikola Rebic ('95) adding 12 and distributing 7 assists. At french side forward Livio Jean-Charles ('93) -MVP of 2010 edition- ended with 25 points (12/20 FG), 7 boards and 1 block, while youngster Mouhammadou Jaiteh ('94) collected a double-double: 13 points and 11 rebounds. point-guard Ulysse Adjagba ('93) added 13 with 4 steals.
-Regal FC Barcelona 50 Zalgiris Kaunas 77: Hosts finished the tournament with a disappointing 1-2 record after losing against lithuanians. Crazy first half for catalans, scoring only 13 points (2 in the second quarter), while Zalgiris was already with 42 after 20 minutes. And after was impossible for them to come back. At local side guard Nacho Marin ('93) ended as their best scorer with 15 points (2/4 from downtown) and 3 rebounds, while guard Oriol Paulí ('94) tallied 9 with 6 boards and 3 steals. Josep Pérez ('94) struggled, collecting a -8 ranking: 0 points with 0/7 FG. At the winning effort forward Tauras Jogela ('93) had 19 points and 5 rebounds in only 18 minutes, while Arturas Gudaitis ('93) added 9 points, 17 rebounds and 2 assists.
-Red Star 71 China U-19 108: In the last game of day 3 asiatic squad added their first victory crashing Red Star by 37 points. Already 20 points up at half time China kept increasing the difference during the last two periods led by guard Guo Ailun ('93) -member of last Nike Hoop Summit World Team-, who finished with 22 points (7/13 FG) and 5 assists. Beside him also shined forward Ju Mingxin ('93) with 16 points and 4 boards in 24 minutes. For serbians, with Aleksander Cvetkovic ('93) absence, the best player was for Andrija Bojic ('93). The forward, invited for the event from Mega Vizura, has ended as one of the best players of Red Star in the tournament, and against chinese he had 14 points (6/11 FG), 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Ivan Marinkovic ('93) added 13 and 3 rebounds, but only 1 ranking.
Final standings
Group A: KK Zagreb (3-0), INSEP (1-2), FMP (1-2) and Ulker Fenerbahce (1-2).
Group B: Zalgiris Kaunas (3-0), China U-19 (1-2), Regal FC Barcelona (1-2) and Red Star (1-2).
-KK Zagreb 76 Zalgiris Kaunas 65: With phenom Dario Saric ('94) collecting a huge triple-double (19 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists) croatians won the title after beating a lithuanian team that showed a regular line during all the tournament. Game was very tied except in the third period, where KK Zagreb made a 21-9 run that became the key of the final score. With four players over 37 minutes they battled against the bigger presence inside the paint of Zalgiris. Lithuanians killed croatians in the rebound (37 to 61), but wasn't enough. Rising star Mario Hezonja ('95) had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals (even 1/6 threes) and guard Dominik Mavra ('94) 16 points, 6 boards and 5 steals. For Zalgiris 2.08 Arturas Gudaitis ('93) scored 13 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, while latvian guard Kaspars Vecvagars ('93) added 13 with 7 boards.
Photo: Eurohopes  


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