The first Junior Adriatic League Tournament featured two groups in Zagreb and Belgrade, each of them with five teams. The top two teams in each group (Red Star Belgrade and Mega Bemax from Belgrade tournament, Igokea and Buducnost from Zagreb tournament) will play the finals in Laktasi (Bosnia and Herzegovina), at the end of January.
Here are the top ten prospects, two for each team, from the Zagreb tournament, which Eurohopes has attended.
Dalibor Ilic (’00), Igokea
6’9, SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ilic had a breakout performance in Zagreb, leading Igokea to the first spot in the group with a 4-0 record, while also averaging 22 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game. Ilic is a 6’9 forward with impressive frame and length, whose physical development will be extremely intriguing to track in the next seasons. Despite being often the tallest player on the court, he showed to be natural with the ball in his hands, handling on the perimeter, pushing the transition, passing off the dribble and finishing strong drives at the rim. Outside shooting still a work in progress, but the kid has extremely high potential.
Aljosa Jankovic (’99), Igokea
6’7, SG/SF, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Another atypical player for Igokea, Jankovic is a tall wing who was able to cover all three backcourt spots for his team. Averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 3 steals per game, playing with good pace and taking solid decisions with the ball. He’ll also need to improve as a shooter, as his shooting range is not confident from beyond the arc and he also has issues connecting from the free throw line.
Andrija Slavkovic (’99), Buducnost
6’7, SF, Montenegro
Slavkovic was the leader of a second-placed Buducnost team who finished with a 2-2 record. Averaged 25 points and 3 steals per game, trailing only Marko Pecarski among the scoring leaders in the tournament. Slavkovic is an aggressive slasher with decent athleticism, able to change speed with the ball and to finish strong at the rim. He’s mostly right hand dominant in all what he does but is a versatile scorer attacking the basket, drawing fouls at high rate and showing also a reliable floater. Despite shooting very well from the free throw line, he still doesn’t have consistency as a three point shooter.
Petar Raickovic (’99), Buducnost
6’7, PF/C, Montenegro
An undersized, strong and mobile big man, Raickovic had a key impact for Buducnost, as a tough, aggressive and vocal player with high-level motor. Raickovic was hard to guard on P&R sets, and particularly made himself a name with his P&P game, being able to shoot right off the catch or to attack the closeout to get to the rim. Lacking some size and explosiveness, Raickovic is not a very good finisher in the crowded paint, but often makes up for his lack of elite physical skills with toughness and aggressiveness.
Darko Bajo (‘99), Cedevita
6’9, PF, Croatia
Bajo left mixed impressions in the tournament, playing with better motor than expected and showing interesting improvements as a shooter, but often lacking consistency in crunch time. He averaged 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds, shooting with remarkable efficiency from the field (16/22 on twos and 5/11 on threes over four games). A good athlete with a decent inside/out scoring game, he’ll need to develop his feel as a passer and show more aggressiveness throughout the whole game.
Karlo Matkovic (’01), Cedevita
6’10, PF/C, Croatia
Matkovic didn’t have a major role for his team, playing only 16 minutes per game, but his impact was important in his minutes on the court, and he’s surely the most intriguing prospect in this Cedevita team. A tall, mobile big man with still skinny and undeveloped body, Matkovic has impressive footwork for his size and moves very well without the ball. A smart big with good touch inside, he was able to finish P&R plays and showed potential to further develop his offensive game.
David Kralj (’99), Olimpija Ljubljana
6’3, SG, Slovenia
Kralj was the main leader of a disappointing Olimpija Ljubljana team which ended up in the fourth place. He averaged 15 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers per game, while playing lot of minutes out of position at the point guard spot. A strong, athletic and committed player, sometimes Kralj settled too much for a jumper, but had also few impressive explosive plays when attacking the basket. He was also among the best defenders in the tournament, using well his combination of strength and lateral quickness.
Matevz Mlakar (’99), Olimpija Ljubljana
6’9, C, Slovenia
Mlakar was often limited by foul troubles, but showed once again promising skills with the ball. A smart and fundamentally sound player, Mlakar has soft touch to finish inside and can stretch the floor as far as from beyond the three point line. He also has high-level passing skills for a big man, playing well both from the low and the high post. Mlakar will need to improve his body and conditioning, he looked way more out of shape than this summer with both the U20 and U18 national teams of Slovenia.
Marko Pecarski (’00), Partizan Belgrade
6’9, PF/C, Serbia
Pecarski wasn’t supposed to play in this competition until the very same week of the tournament. He dominated the competition from an individual standpoint, averaging 30 points, 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 6.5 fouls drawn in 30 minutes per game. He was often defended very physically, something that didn’t keep him from scoring with ridiculous ease either inside the paint or from the perimeter. While putting on display all of his scoring versatility, Pecarski had some issue passing the ball out of a double, and was at his best if he had to focus on scoring the ball.
Tadija Tadic (’99), Partizan Belgrade
6’4, PG, Serbia
With 10.5 points per game, Tadic was the second best scorer for Partizan, adding 6 assists in about 30 minutes of average. A physically gifted guard with an aggressive game off the dribble, he had some issue with his decision making, often dribbling into bad decisions or taking questionable shots. He loves to dominate the ball and create off the dribble, but in the tournament wasn’t able to consistently provide a secondary scoring option to Pecarski.