Recap: Serbia U16 at FIBA European Championship

Recap: Serbia U16 at FIBA European Championship

Last year our national team at the European championship in Podgorica took 3rd place behind the NT of France (1st place) and NT of Montenegro (2nd place). This year our national team did not manage to climb the winner stand of FIBA U16 european championship, held in Novi Sad (Serbia). The selected players of the coach Vlada Vukoičić: ( #0 Vojin Ivković, #1 Luka Paunović, #5 Nikola Manojlović, #9 Stefan Agoč, #10 Marko Andrić, #11 Lazar Stefanović, #13 Matija Svetozarević, #15 Mihailo Mušikić, #21 Luka Tarlać, #27 Filip Škobalj, #34 Lazar Joksimović, #99 Ivan Pavićević) took 5th place in this tournament.

 

Group:

Serbia – Spain 46:72

Warning at the start!

Not very well began for the host of the championship. Already in the first round we experienced a debacle. Spain started the game with confidence. With great fastbreaks they managed to take a lead at the very beginning of the match. They looked dominant and sure especially in the first half. On the end of first quarter they had 14 points lead, while in the second quarter managed to make a 17: 2 series in 7 minutes. We managed to improve the impression a lit of bit in the last 3 minutes and at half-time the result was 21:46 for Spain. In the second half we entered in faster pace, but we did not manage well, we remained short for points in the first 5 minutes of the game in the third quarter, scoring only 3 points. In the last 15 minutes of the match, we catch a breathe and took over the game. A total debacle was avoided, we improved the impression as much as we lost the match from the tolerable 26 points against obviosly better Spain team. We did not have any solution for a great Usman Garuba who scored 26 points and had 16 rebounds. Surely we could have done better, but this was a good opportunity to point out mistakes and to learn the lessons for the next games.

Serbia – Latvia 85:60

Steady and cold-blooded!

In the second game of the championship, the national team of Serbia showed her other, winner side. We played a confident match, without much oscillations, with a lot of transition whenever there was a chance for a faster game. We played a good first half and take a lead of 14 points points. We did not allow any surprises, we controlled the course of the game and concentrated to the very end. We steadly bring the match to the end. We had very well placed points with 5 players who were double-digit in the team (Paunović 15, Manojlović 14, Andrić 11, Stefanović 17, Mušikić 12). This was an important victory for our team, above all psychologically important, which surely bring back the shaky confidence after the first game.

 

Serbia – Netherlands 78:52

Winning in the knockout phase!

Serbia repeated the game from the last match with Latvia and quite easily came to an end with the team Netherlands . The game was quite versatile. We shot a lot out of 3PT line, played good in offense, made lot of extra passes, and again were great in transition, which somehow through the entire training camp period in friendly games, and now here at the championship, proved to be the most frequently chosen weapon against our opponents. After the first quarter and a great 82% shot for 2 points (9/11) and even better second quarter in which we allow only 9 points, we take a big lead and decide the game after 20 minutes. We relaxeeda lit of bit in the third quarter, but we brought things back into place in the last quarter and easily and convincingly celebrated. It is important to point out that we again had very well placed points, that only two players did not manage to score the points, which means that they all contributed actively, but what was worrying was that we did not have any prominent leader in the team in the upcoming games.

 

1/8 final

Serbia – Slovenia 88:63

Dominant in round of 16!

We had no difficulty in the round of 16 against Slovenia. We were simply better in all parameters of the game. They keep up the score  in the first 7 minutes of the match, after which we took over the complete initiative. With solid defense and good boxing out we managed to impose a faster pace of the match and from transition to achieve almost a third of our points. Manojlovic (22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) and Stefanovic (18 points, 4 rebounds)  were team leaders in this game. When we add  that the our players from the bench scored more than half  points with good percentage of the shot for 2pt and 3pt, and especially from the free throw line, it is clear that this was a routine victory and a good uverture before the match vs favored selection of France.

 

1/4 final

Serbia – France 71:78

Broken dreams about the medal!

And when the team seemed to have caught a good run, we came across on French team. We can not say that it would be undeserved that we went on. We fought hard, played hard, but we did not have enough strength to turn the result to our advantage. Especially we did not have a solution for Yvan Ouedraogo who scored 23 points and grabbed a 15 rebounds and for Moussa Diabate who scored 16 points and had 17 rebounds. From the very beginning, France came up with a lead and the didn’t droped until the end of the game. At half-time they had 11 points lead, we managed for a moment to be 4 points behind, but at the end of that quarter they had bigger lead compared to the half-time (-14). And finally, in the last quarter, we managed to fully take over the game in the last 3 minutes , and a t 2 minutes to the end we was trailing by 6 points, and in the last 30 seconds and 4 points behind, we did not have the power to turn completely and the dream about medal fall apart. In this game, there were missing a points the bench, and better boxing out. In comparison France had 52 caught rebounds, of which 20 were offensive. The best player in Serbia was Nikola Manojlovic, who scored 28 points with 8 rebounds. Andric had 10, and Stefanovic added 14 points.

 

A game for 5-8 places

Serbia – Lithuania 73:66

We want victory!

After a disappointing defeat from France, which turn off any hope for the Serbian national team to take some of the medals in front of home crowd, we overrun it and contiue the competition. The fight for fifth place was left. The first of two opponents on this way was the selection of Lithuania. The Lithuania took a lead on the halftime 36:30. The first quarter was equal with a few lead changing. Lithuania had the biggest advantage before heading for a big break when they were led by 9 points. In the third quarter we played somewhat better managed to tied the score, but at the end of the quarter we were again at -6, after we played egal in  third quarter (18:18). We finished the last quarter with a 11: 0 series and took a lead. From that moment on, the Lithuanians failed to return to the match. By the end of the match, we kept a lead to 3-7 points , we saved the result and in the end deservedly celebrated. Stefanovic scored 18 points again, and Mušikic joined with 12 points.

Match for 5th place

Serbia – Greece 81:68

Finish strong!

Only 4 minutes and 30 seconds there was a resistance from Greece team in this match, after which we broke this resistance and had a lead at the end of the first quarter by 12 points. In the second quarter, there was an equal fight, so we left at half-time with a stock of (+12). And finally, the match was resolved after the third period after we get inaccessible lead (+18). There was no surprise in the last quarter and a routine match was brought to an end. We shots very well for 3 pt (8/20) – 40%, while Greece put in all (3/18) – 17%. With a percentage of 2 pt, which was above 50% (23/43), the impression is  that Greece couldn’t do any better. Filip Skobalj led Serbia to a victory with 18 points and 7 rebounds, followed by Stefanovic and Agoc, who scored 11 points. And once again, this team has shown that they never give up, have a strong team spirit, and that there is a certain chemistry between these guys. We have seen attractive dunks, great blocks and lots of nice moves, however, to win some of the medals, it is obvious that one outstanding leader of the team missed so that the whole picture be complete.

Overall, the impression is that the team has progressed well in the past few months, and individually, the players have progressed both physically and in basketball way, which makes it certain that this team is on the right path to make new champions.

 

PLAYERS

#0 Vojin Ivković 
Ivković was the energy guy from the bench, he bringed aggressiveness and activity to this team. Even though he was planned to be back up PG he didn’t show playmaker skills, and he plays majority of the time as a combo guard. Has quick first step and good slashing ability, also very good on defensive end because of his strong legs. Sometimes is impatient and rush in some situations.

#1 Luka Paunović
Paunović is athletic guy with good length. Natural position is SG but he was forced to play PG in this tournament and he did that prety well. He showed nice vision and good passing ability, still need to improve ball handling. Good in defense thanks to his long wingspan, also very effective when he start the fast break , had some nice coast to coasts finishes. Needs to improve his shooting ability.

#5 Nikola Manojlović
The best Serbian player on this tournament. It noticeable the experience from playing for U17 and U19 in Crvena Zvezda past season. He can score on multiple ways. He is not to explosive and quick, but he use excelent his big and strong body to apsorbs the contact while his is driving to the basket. Showed some nice solutions in transitions. He is not a consistent shooter for now, and need to improve off the ball movement.

#9 Stefan Agoč
Agoč was a role player in this team and he did his job corectly. His biggest problem could be undefined postion, standing at 6’7 with pretty much formed body, he doesn’t have too good athletic abilities for SF, and for PF lacks of height and strength. He is good in doing small things, who you cannot see in stats but those things are crucial for the team.  He need to work on his shoot, he is not a threat for outside, and also needs to improve his left hand, especially driving and finishing. On defense very reliable.

#10 Marko Andrić
Andrić was a starting PG in this team. He had a lot oscilations during the tournament. Main thing that he need to improve is decision making in offense. Only 1.7 ast as a main PG. In defense he does a very good job.Has a good ball handling. Good shooter from mid range but does not possess range from 3pt. Even though he is athletic he struggles to finish around the basket because he lacks of size.

#11 Lazar Stefanović 
The most pleasant suprise in this team. He played this tournament above expectations. The best shooter in this team. That is his main weapon. Very good in catch and shoot situations and  shooting coming out of sceens, also can pull up from the dribble, but need to work on his shoot selections. One of the his best qualities is that he plays simple. Don’t have tends to overdribble and he don’t need to have ball in his hands to be effective. Still need to improve his defense.

#13 Matija Svetozarević
Svetozarevic is the player with the best athleticism in team Serbia. High level athlete with great run and jump ability. He started every game for Serbia but overall he didn’t have too much room to show what he can (14.2 min per game). For that time on the floor he showed as a flashes of his athleticism with couple nice dunks and block shoots. Solid as a shooter, didn’t have that good percetange (26.3 % 3pt) but smooth shooting stroke with proper form, rotation, and arc showed that he is promising as a shooter. Beside his shooting ability doesn’t possess too much of an offensive game.

#15 Mihailo Mušikić
Musikic maybe didn’t played on the level that was expected from him. He showed that he is still immature for this level of compretition. He couldn’t make a big impact on the game, even though he is 6’11 he physicly couldn’t parry to the big guys on this tournament.  He really needs to add some muscle, since he barely weights. Need to work on his footwork and on boxing out also. Solid shot blocker and he got potential to develop face up game and even to become a threat from 3pt line. He showed like a good passer from low post, but still need to improve positioning and back to basket moves.

#21 Luka Tarlać
Tarlac has tremedous athletic abilities. Great size and length. Has good potential as a perimeter defender with his length and ability to move his feet. Can guard multiple postions. A good shot blocker with good timing, had some really nice blocks during the tournament. His offensive skillset is modest. Has good driving ability but need to improve finishing and need to learn to use his body better. Shoot is still not there but it’s improving.

#27 Filip Škobalj
Skobalj was a starting PF in this team. Big and strong body but pretty much formed. Lacks significant size for position. Doesn’t recover by the length either, but he replaces with fightingness. Plays hard on the defensive end, aggressive on ball, gets many steals (1.4 spg). Even though vertical component is lacking he is solid rebounder and rim protector. He may have the ability to become stretch-four in the future, but he can’t do this at a consistent level yet due to his incosistent shooting. Decision making from the low post is also a thing that needs to improve.

#34 Lazar Joksimović
Joksimovic is undersized center. At 6’8 doesn’t have ideal size or length for center. Strong player who still didn’t learn how to use his strength. Low post skills need to be polished. He is good rebounder on both ends of the floor and also defender on low post.

#99 Ivan Pavićević
Pavicevic was the third center in this team and also the player with at least minutes on the court (5.3 mpg) so it’s hard to evaluate his performance.

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