By Biel Colominas

The U14 Slovenia Ball 2019 was held in Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia, from the 22nd to the 25th of August. Slovenia Ball is a top tournament for U14 National Teams in Europe which has been evolving over the years, as it already grew from 6 to 10 teams and it will improve more in the future. Many elite European players like Jan Vesely, Dario Saric, Mario Hezonja, Vlatko Cancar among many others played in Slovenj Gradec.
Final: Slovenia – Israel 62-60
3rd place game: Italy – Poland 73-63
5th place game: Croatia – Montenegro 71-66
7th place game: Hungary – North Macedonia 81-61
9th place game: Ukraine – Bulgaria 80-56
All-Tournament Team: Luka Smitran (Slovenia – MVP), Jurica Zagorsak (Croatia), Kajetan Kuczawski (Poland), Yarin Dazanashvili (Israel), Alberto Pellizzarri (Italy)
TONI BILIC (‘05) - 6’5, PG, Croatia
Bilic has a long and slim body with a lot of range to develop. He has high-level coordination and body control, looking extremely fluid on the court. Despite his size, he shows playmaker instincts, as he is vocal on the court and can naturally create for himself and others. He has excellent ball-handling ability, plays at different pace with the ball and is able to easily change direction with the ball. Bilic is a high-level shooter both off the dribble and off the catch; his form looks pretty consistent, has natural touch and his release is fluid and high. On defense, he is able to match smaller players thanks to his quick feet and low center of gravity. He uses well his length to deflect passing lanes and intimidate shots.
JURICA ZAGORSAK (‘05) - 6’4, SF, Croatia
Zagorsak was named in the All-Tournament Team after averaging 10.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Has already good size and promising frame with still range to grow and improve in the future. He has excellent fundamentals, looking very natural and skilled with the ball for his size and position. He is an elite shooter off the catch: consistent form, smooth release and natural range from three. He has an outstanding basketball IQ; he is smart moving off the ball and also reading extra pass situations. He struggles to score in a crowded paint due to his lack of explosiveness. Excellent rebounder: he boxes out and has great instincts and timing. Defensive motor comes and goes, but he is a very good off-ball defender thanks to high basketball IQ.
YARIN DAZANASHVILI (‘05) - 6’0, SG, Israel
Dazanashvili earned a spot in the All-Tournament Team, as he averaged 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals. A strong guard with early developed body, his athletic tools are above average at the moment. He is talented off the dribble, makes good use of hesitations and change of pace and he is very aggressive attacking the basket. He has good array of solutions to finish with both hands, even if he is contacting with his defender. As a shooter, he can score from behind the three-point line off the dribble and off the catch, showing a quick release and good touch despite his form is a bit weird. Dazanashvili wasn’t afraid to take responsibilities in crunch time, and showed huge personality in the important moments of the semifinals hitting key free throws (finished with 10/10).
ALBERTO PELLIZZARRI (‘05) - 6’1, SG, Italy
Pellizzarri is an early bloomer from a physical and athletic standpoint; he has an already consistent body, above average explosiveness and leaping ability. He is a lefty shooting guard who has a ridiculous ability to score, as he has natural range as a shooter and he can also score at the rim. His shooting motion is quick, he can shoot both off the catch and off the dribble and never hesitates to take a shot, even though he can be streaky. Pellizzarri has explosive first step and change of pace, can beat his man with ease and score near the rim using both hands. He plays defense with high motor, has quick feet to stay in front of the ball-handler and also good ability to absorb contacts.
KAJETAN KUCZAWSKI (‘05) - 5’6, PG, Poland
Kuczawski was placed in the All-Tournament Team after averaging 12 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals. He is a small and very developed player considering his body, as his muscles are already defined and he doesn’t have major physical upside. He brings huge impact in this level of competition thanks to his relentless motor and high energy, being an annoying defender on the ball and a fearless driver on offense. Kuczawski is extremely aggressive off the dribble, has explosive change of pace and good ball-handling at high speed. He always attacks the rim and finds ways to score, but he is able to kick out the ball while driving as well. On defense, he loves to put pressure on the ball-handler and has quick hands.
LUKA SMITRAN (‘05) - 6’0, PF, Slovenia
Smitran was named MVP of the tournament thanks to his 11.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2 steals per game. He is an early bloomer with solid and compact body who takes advantages with his physical game. Smitran likes to attack off the dribble, gets separation using his body and spin moves, can finish with both hands and he scores absorbing contacts. He also produces playing in the low post, where he uses well his developed body to bully opponents under the basket, and he is also able to find the weak side thanks to his good court vision. His shooting ability is consistent and he can hit shots from different range. He plays defense with high effort, is able to match multiple positions at this level and is very aggressive fighting for rebounds as well.
JAN VIDE (‘05) - 6’2, SG/PG, Slovenia
Vide has solid frame and size for his position. He has above average quickness at the moment, being able to naturally change pace and direction with the ball. He is excellent creating for himself thanks to his ball-handling ability with both hands, quick change of pace, wide array of moves to score and ability to absorb contacts. Vide needs to work on his left hand at the time to finish, his shot selection and especially his willingness to share the ball. His shooting ability is average at the moment, as he has to improve his consistency and fluidity of the release. Defensively he has good feet to stay on the ball; has up&downs with his commitment and focus though.