Nikola Djurisic played the biggest of roles in helping U18 Mega Mozzart Belgrade to its first-ever Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament title.
MVP Djurisic delivers title to Mega despite injuries
Djurisic may not have had the greatest statistics, but the young leader fought off some nagging injuries and delivered when it counted most. That earned him the Most Valuable Player award. He averaged 20 points per game to go with 4.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.3 steals for an index rating of 16.3 in helping Mega finally claim the trophy after losing in the ANGT Championship Game in 2017 and 2019.
“The third time’s a charm. It was very tough - all four games, especially the championship game. Everybody gave their maximum, it was hard but we got the W,” said Djurisic, who struggled from the field, making just 37.1% of his two-pointers and shooting 21.1% on three-pointers while also committing 6.0 turnovers a game. Nevertheless, he made 22 of 28 free throws (78.6%) in just three contests.
“This MVP Award means a lot to me, but it would not have that importance if we didn't win the ANGT title,” said Djurisic, who was playing in the ANGT competition for a third season. “For me, it’s more important that we brought the trophy back to Belgrade after eight years because this is the highlight of our team, which has been together for three years with some changes.”
The recent changes could be a reason for Djurisic’s high turnover count. Andrija Jelavic (Mega’s third-leading scorer with 14.7 points per game) and Timotej Malovec (6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists) both joined Mega two weeks before the ANGT Finals. And Bassala Bagayoko, who was named to the All-Tournament Team and ANGT Rising Star, only came to the team a week before the tournament.
Djurisic himself did not play at the ANGT Belgrade, where the team finished sixth and later received a wild card for the ANGT Finals. He has been dealing with a series of small injuries over the last couple of months and played just five games since he competed with the Serbian senior national team at the same time as the ANGT Belgrade. Three of those games were with Mega’s first team and two came in late April when he helped the club win the ABA U19 league title.
“He’s had some little injuries. I’m really happy for Nikola and all the other guys because next year they will not be able to play,” Mega coach Dragoljub Avramovic said.
The coach will miss having someone like Djurisic to come through in big moments. In the opening game against two-time continental champion U18 PFYM INSEP Paris, Djurisic scored a team-high 20 points. He tallied 19 points with 7 assists as Mega dethroned reigning champion U18 Real Madrid in the second game to book the club’s spot in the ANGT Championship Game.
Djurisic not only led Mega with 21 points in the title bout with U18 Next Generation Select Team but he also scored 10 of his points in Mega’s game-deciding 14-0 run in the fourth quarter.
“He said everything on the court,” Coach Avramovic said about his leader - and MVP Nikola Djurisic.