Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Bosnia's U16 team ended up placing third this week in Macedonia in the European U16 B Division Championships. This is often a showcase for a talent or two for Bosnia, with a overall disappointing result for the team. Bosnia is often strong in a couple of positions SG/SF with mostly a strength in wing players. This Bosnian team flashed some big time talent that transcended the competition, age of the players and coaching.

Bosnia was undefeated until going up against Slovenia in the Semifinal game. Bosnia got down big against Slovenia and trailed by double digits through most of the game, near the end of the third quarter they reduced the deficit to four before running out of steam in the fourth period. The team didn't play well in the game, either through fatigue, poor preparation, or poor coaching. They tended to stand around and watch Nedim Buza go to work 1 on 5...Nedim was the focus of the defense, instead of forcing the action near the paint, cutting to the basket and hitting open men with passes he tended to force his shot from the outside, even though he took a lot of shots he wasn't aggressive offensively.

Bosnia could have easily have moved onto division A if they would have been matched up with England in the semifinal instead of Slovenia. It was a great result for Bosnia that they need to build on for future. There is no doubt that this team opened some eyes for teams looking to peel away talent that was present on this team.

Making the results even more surprising was the absence of some top Bosnian talent on the team, namely Sandro Gacic, Nedim Dedovic and a few other top talents that may or may not play for Bosnia in the future. The fact that Bosnia could be absent so much talent and still be so competitive was quite impressive.

A recap and breakdown of each of the Bosnian players....

Adi Zahiragic PG Adi was a revelation during this tournament. His ball handling, shooting, passing, defense, intelligence, composure and poise was impressive. He displayed talent not seen in a young Bosnian point guard since Damir Mulaomerovic was playing for the Sloboda Dita Tuzla youth teams 20 years ago. Adi tired as the tournament wore on and his three point shot began to not fall. He shot about 45% from three in his first six games, then shot about 16% in his last two games. Mostly this was the result of fatigue but also teams focused on closing out on his three point shot. Usually in youth tournaments like this teams dare you to shoot the three as players are unlikely shoot a high percent. Adi killed teams early in the tournament. Almost as impressive was his passing and ball handling, his assist to turnover ratio was excellent for a young player. The skills Adi flashed during this tournament will translate to when he is older as well. He is poised to be the starting PG for the Bosnian national team for a long, long time. He currently is with KK BOSNA ASA youth team, if they were smart (which they are not) they would lock him up with a contract and start getting him 12-18 minutes a game now. He is already as good as Muhamed Pasalic, their starting point guard they have been grooming for five or six years. KK BOSNA though doesn't play youngsters until they are  in their early 20's for some odd reason.

Nedim Buza SF You could easily make an argument that Nedim was the most explosive player in this tournament. He rebounds, shoots, passes, defends (with athleticism more than skill or position at this point) he showed a great, raw all around game. The big difference between him and Adi Zahiragic is what Adi flashed translates into when he is older. It is hard to tell with a 16 year old kid what his end results will be in 5-6 years. If Nedim grows 2-3 inches and gets some good coaching and works hard at it, he could be a NBA player if not then a top flight European talent. His ball handling (although he was turnover prone) was exceptional for a player of his size and skill. He can do so much at a early age that he would actually benefit on focusing on inside power moves, easy secondary passing and defense...If he does those three things up to his potential he could be one of the best in Europe. What you worry is the lack of refinement, falling in love with his outside shooting and making fancy passes instead of the right one to get guys open looks. Another player who is with KK BOSNA youth team, Nedim should be getting minutes with the big club today! There is no reason why he should be sitting on a bench behind his older brother and other less skilled older players. He looks like he could be a cornerstone of a future National Team for Bosnia.

Dejan Ivkovic SF It was puzzling seeing Ivkovic get so many minutes a game. He clearly showed that his future is not in professional basketball. They needed to give his time to other players with real future.

Dorde Kelecevic  PG Not as impressive or as flashy as Zahiragic, Dorde did show the ability to run a team, get them into their offense and not to be a liability while on the floor. He looks fearless in attacking the rim and getting to the FT line. Not a good outside shooter Dorde does look like he has a future if he continues to work and it and develops...A nice player with nice size for the position.

Sanin Omerovic SG A decent player who played OK in the series. It is hard to tell what the future hold for him. If he works hard and gets some coaching could be a decent player in the KSBiH league.

Bojan Lulic SF Bojan surprised during this tournament, he was the third best player for Bosnia and showed himself to be an aggressive player. It is hard to project out at what size he will end up being (others can project this pretty accurately). It will be interesting to follow his career in the next few years. I was impressed with Adis Drina a few years ago and I haven't heard anything from him since so who really knows.

Edi Sipka PF Edi showed good timing as a shot blocker, otherwise he was a raw prospect who needs lots of  work.

Ivo Garic PG Didn't really impress or play big minutes during the tournament, it is hard to tell what kind of upside he has, I would guess not much.

Milenko Predic PF He played well as a role player for Bosnia, it is hard to see what he will be in 4-5 years.

Miso Maslac SG Miso didn't play many minutes but may be a prospect others like (like Damir Dronjic a few years back). Miso showed some skill that could translate in the next level.

Nikola Marijan C Didn't show anything besides size during this tournament.

Nedim Tunovic C Raw offensively, Nedim did show some defensive presence and rebounding. If he gets some decent coaching and basic fundamentals he could be a decent role player.

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