The 2018 Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Belgrade took place from February the 23trd to February the 25th.
Final: Red Star Belgrade – Partizan Belgrade  90 - 59
3rd place game: Mega Bemax Belgrade – Anadolu Efes Istanbul  85 - 70
5th place game: Get Better Academy Prague – Reyer Venice  72 - 55
7th place game: Spars Sarajevo – Cibona Zagreb  89 - 68
All-Tournament Team: Zoran Paunovic (Red Star Belgrade - MVP), Marko Pecarski (Partizan Belgrade), Luka Cerovina (Mega Bemax), Federico Miaschi (Reyer Venice), Kenan Kamenjas (Spars Sarajevo)

Group A

Spars Sarajevo lacked talent and depth in their roster, and ended up in 7th place after crushing Cibona in the last game. Center Kenan Kamenjas (’00) was still able to finish as by far the tournament’s top rebounder, recording impressive stats and being named to the All-Tournament Team. The undersized, physical inside player has wide shoulders and a strong frame and plays with impressive motor under the basket, chasing rebounds outside of his area and showing solid IQ with the ball in his hands despite lacking proper skills and shooting range. He averaged 13.8 points, 14.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2 steals, 1.3 blocks and 7.3 fouls drawn per game. Wing Tarik Biberovic (’01) didn’t show many improvements from last year, but was still able to show glimpse of dominant game at this level of competition: he’s a power player with a developed body and strong first step, who loves to slash to the basket and get to the rim in transition. He’s able to create separation for his pull up jumper using his body, despite lacking elite ball-handling skills so far. He averaged 19.5 points, 8 rebounds and 3.3 assists, shooting 52.5% from two and 40.7% from three.

Reyer Venice also lacked a talented roster, won only one game in the tournament (vs Spars Sarajevo) and relied heavily on wing Federico Miaschi (’00), who averaged 23.3 points per game out of his team’s average of 60; he added 9.3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.8 steals and 6.5 fouls drawn per game, winning the Three-Point Shooting Contest and being named to the All-Tournament Team. Despite lacking elite explosiveness and physical upside, Miaschi does a great job in creating his own shot off the dribble, showing solid ability to change pace with the ball and being easily able to create separation for his jumper with a reliable step-back move. He’s a smart player with good vision and instincts with the ball, who showed high-level leadership during the tournament. Center Luca Possamai (’01) didn’t play major minutes and looked still slow and lanky in his movements, but has intriguing combination of size, touch and instincts inside the pain, something which will be interesting to track as he develops his athleticism and gets more playing experience.

Anadolu Efes won two games in the group but didn’t look significantly more talented than the two teams behind them, even though they played with very good attitude and aggressiveness during the three days. Most of their scoring production was relying on shooting guard Mustafa Kurtuldum (’01) who averaged 21.8 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 6 fouls drawn per game, while shooting 39.1% from beyond the arc. Kurtuldum size and promising frame make him an intriguing prospect giving his shot making ability, he lacks elite ball-handling but has a quick, consistent jump shot and gets things done when playing off the catch. He had a solid showing also on the defensive end thanks to his motor, aggressiveness and instincts off the ball. Center Tarik Sezgun (’01) has some potential because of his size, mobility and shooting touch, with the ability to score from as far as from behind the three point line. His motor and toughness were often disappointing though, and he’ll need to properly work on improving his frame. He averaged 7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1 block per game.

The host team of Red Star Belgrade once again took the tournament by storm, winning four games out of four with an average point difference of 25.5 points. After already being named to the All-Tournament Team in the 2017 edition, 6’5 wing Zoran Paunovic (’00) had another impressive showing and was named MVP in Belgrade; he averaged 24.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 3.3 steals, 1 block and 5.8 fouls drawn per game, shooting 70.8% from two and leading the tournament in scoring. An extremely explosive and disruptive player on both ends of the court, Paunovic can guard any backcourt position at this level of competition and is a constant defensive nightmare for his opponents thanks to his motor, quickness and instincts off the ball. On offense Paunovic is improving his ability to play off the dribble, even though his ball-handling and shooting skills are still shaky. He’s a powerful finisher who can easily beat his man and score above the rim, and he shows also solid vision and timing to pass the ball out of the P&R. Montenegrin big man Bojan Tomasevic (’01) had a solid tournament, finishing well off cuts and playing with aggressive attitude inside the paint, even though his physical and athletic upside looks limited. He has also an intriguing ability to stretch the floor off the catch, even though his shot didn’t fall in Belgrade. Averaged 13.8 points, 5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Center Veljko Radakovic (’00) was also effective under the basket, moving well without the ball, finishing with soft touch around the rim and showing good hands to catch the ball while cutting to the basket.

Group B

Cibona Zagreb featured a fairly young and physically undeveloped team which struggled to keep up with the tournament’s level of physicality. Center Danko Brankovic (’00) has grown up to a full 6’10 and is extremely fluid for his size, even though still skinny and not always able to properly use his body. He showed good touch around the rim and some shooting range as well, and lead the tournament by far in blocked shots per game, even though struggled to battle inside against physical contact. He averaged 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 3.3 blocks per game. Lefty shooting guard Luka Cvitanovic (’00) also left a good overall impression throughout the tournament, as he was the most assertive and creative player for his team, other than being Cibona’s top scorer. He’s a natural ball-handler who can easily change pace off the dribble, and in Belgrade made good use of his balance and dribble game to play the P&R, get inside the paint and create both for himself and his teammates. Power forward Leo Menalo (’02) didn’t have much playing time, but established himself as likely his team’s most intriguing prospect giving the combination of size, athleticism, coordination and ball skills, despite being still extremely skinny.

Like many other editions of Get Better Academy, the team in Belgrade looked aggressive and well-coached, despite lacking elite talent in the roster. The best performer for the Czech team was power forward Lubos Kovar (’00), who averaged 15.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1 block and 4.5 fouls drawn per game. Kovar is an intense and physical player who always puts great effort on the court, being extremely dynamic in cutting, running the court, chasing rebounds and attacking the basket as soon as he can. Not a particularly talented scorer, Kovar has good enough versatility and shows some touch and quickness finishing power plays in the low post, as well as the ability to hit shots from as far as from beyond the arc. 7’1 center Tomas Pavelka (’00) is still extremely raw and struggles to get consistent playing time at this point of his development, but his combination of size, wide frame, length and mobility still makes him an intriguing prospect to follow as he picks up a better knowledge of the game.

Mega Bemax lost an overtime game to Partizan Belgrade on the first day, which cost them the first spot in the group and moved them to the 3rd overall spot in the tournament. Lefty wing Luka Cerovina (’00) had a breakout tournament and was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 4 turnovers, 2.5 steals, 1.5 blocks and 4.8 fouls drawn per game. Cerovina has excellent size for his position and showed impressive ball skills for a 6’7 player, creating comfortably off the dribble for both himself and his teammates, showing good body control when attacking the rim and shooting the ball well off the dribble. His game is still mainly strong hand dominant, and he’ll need to improve his decision making which is still shaky at times. Lefty center Aleksandar Langovic (’01) was a force inside the paint, averaging 14.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.5 fouls drawn in just 20 minutes per game. He has good physical and athletic potential thanks to his length and explosiveness around the rim, even though now plays strictly inside the paint. A terrific offensive rebounder, Langovic finished lot of second chance plays inside and was an easy target for his teammates when cutting to the rim and being able to get the ball on the move. Big man Mateja Jovanovic (’00) is a skilled undersized inside player who averaged 12.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 5.8 fouls drawn per game; he’s a high IQ player who shows developed fundamentals around the basket, as well as good vision and touch to pass the ball. His lack of a proper frame and explosiveness limit his potential, but at this level of competition he’s efficient thanks to his touch, physicality and understanding of the game.

Partizan Belgrade had a good overall showing in the tournament, despite being crushed by Red Star in the title game. One of the most awaited players in Belgrade, big man Marko Pecarski (’00) had once again a terrific performance, averaging 18.3 point, 8.5 rebounds (4.3 on the offensive end) and 6.3 fouls drawn per game and being named to the All-Tournament Team. Pecarski dominated the boards with his impressive timing and positioning, touching countless rebounds and creating extra possessions for his team. He scored with terrific ease inside the arc, using fakes to easily create separation, putting the ball on the floor and nearly always finding the right spot to score around the basket. His shot selection was sometimes shaky though and his poor lateral quickness still limits him on defense. Guard Aleksandar Davitkov (’00) is a small but extremely intense scorer who tirelessly pushes the ball in transition, attacks the basket and can shoot both off the dribble or off the catch. He put valuable defensive effort on the court and was able to stay in front of his man. Averaged 13 points, 2 assists and 2 steals per game. Power forward Marko Brekic (’01) had a very good showing as well, as an undersized but well-built inside player who showed good basketball IQ, moved well without the ball and finished efficiently off dynamic situation. So far his lack of a reliable shooting range limits his upside, but in the tournament he averaged 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in just little more than 18 minutes per game.

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