Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bosnia U20 basketball team moves on to the qualifying round!

(Miralem Halilovic top picture and Nikola Gajic bottom picture)

Bosnia & Herzegovina has moved on from group G with their win over Israel the other day. The only blemish on their record so far was a beating at the hands of undefeated Belgium. Their next game is in the qualifying round against the up and coming Czech republic which has done a great job of moving from the fringes of European basketball to the middle of the pack with some good young talent. Bosnia has a good chance to knock off Czech Republic but then will face Belgium again in their most serious test so far. They have played well but at times inconsistent and lack proper depth to win it all I believe. They are close but it seems that the inconsistency of Dino Begagic and the under performance of wonder kid Adnan Vrabac (arguably the most talented Bosnian on the team according to scouting reports).
So far though the play of Miralem Halilovic has been inspired, it has been much appreciated that a kid heavily recruited who plays in the Euroleague didn't find it too small a stage playing in the U20 B tournament. Or that the kid who suddenly realizes he is Croatian, Slovenian or Spanish and abandon his home country for new found glory abroad.
Nikola Gajic isn't the most physically talented Guard around but he is going to play basketball in the US next year and has worked hard at his game since representing Bosnian U16 squad a couple of years ago. Bosnia would benefit from sending more of it's young players to play in the US university system, much like what you see Lithuania do with it's players. Especially since coaching at home is at such a poor level. Gajic has quick hands and good timing and a nice size for a perimeter player. If he can develop his 3 point shot he could turn out to be a nice player in Europe in the years to come. He does some nice things that come naturally to him.

Dino Begagic has been one of my favorite young Bosnian basketball players because of his shooting range. Bosnia has struggled with solid 3pt shooting since the days of Jasmin Hukic and Mirza Teletovic. The range is obvious with Dino, one perplexing aspect is his poor free throw shooting, if you can hit 3 pointers with consistency then the free throw should be no problem. Bosnia needs his 3 point shot to be falling if they are to challenge moving up to division A. His shooting spreads the floor and allows others to get easier looks at the basket.
Adnan Vrabac came into the tournament with the most talent by scouts (along with Miralem Halilovic who seems older than he is because he has been playing in Europe for so long) but has struggled in his first major European competition. He is very young (17 years old) and has played against inferior competition but I would love to have him make a difference in at least one game in this tournament.
The two big power players for KK BOSNA ASA Ernad Mujic and Nermin Buza have shown little so far, same with Mirza Bulic who came in with some international experience and getting a lot of playing time with the now defunct Sloboda Dita Tuzla.
Ranko Ivic and Srdjan Loncar have shared minutes so far with mixed results.
I will do a full report after the tournament is done.

Bosnia was knocked off by Czech Republic yesterday. Nikola Gajic hurt his hand in the previous game and didn't play. Bosnia's lack of proper depth killed them in this game as their back court provided almost nothing. I was surprised they didn't make some moves and insert Adnan Vrabac into the starting five.

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