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Stojanovic helps Crvena Zvezda get back to NIJT Finals

REGENSBURG (David Hein's Eye on the Future) - For the fourth straight year, Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade - more commonly known as Red Star - won the Belgrade Nike International Junior Tournament to secure their spot in the Nike International Junior Tournament (NIJT) Finals at the Euroleague Final Four.

Vojislav Stojanovic took MVP honors as Crvena Zvezda knocked off INSEP Paris in the Belgrade final to advance to Milan.

Crvena Zvezda are the fourth team to book an automatic berth for the NIJT Finals alongside the three previous qualifying tournament winners - Cajasol Seville, Real Madrid and Zalgiris Kaunas.

Another four teams will fill out the field with wild cards for the May 16-18 tournament in Italy.

Crvena Zvezda played a great team game on offense and defense - allowing just 51 points per game while averaging 78.6 points on offense.

Stojanovic was clearly the leader of the team with 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks.

But there was balance throughout with five other players scoring in double figures in at least one game. Besides Stojanovic, eight Crvena Zvezda players averaged between 5.2 and 8.8 points. At least 10 players scored in each of the first four games and eight players scored in the 56-42 win over INSEP Paris in the final.

Looking at the balance that Joventut Badalona displayed in winning the 2013 NIJT title, Crvena Zvezda must be considered a dangerous team in Milan. The Serbs will definitely be hungry to finally take the next step at the Finals. After going 1-2 in 2011, Crvena Zvezda posted a 2-1 record in both 2012 and 2013 but failed to reach the title game, losing to the eventual champions Lietuvos Rytas and Joventut the past two springs.

Joining Stojanovic on the All-Tournament Team was teammate Stefan Lazarevic, who averaged 7.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists, including a 10-point, 13-rebound showing in the semi-finals against Cedevita Zagreb.

INSEP's all-around forward Stephane Gombauld also made the All-Tournament Team with 15.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 2.0 spg. But he struggled to handle the Crvena Zvezda defense in the final, committing eight turnovers.

The other two All-Tournament selections were Cedevita Zagreb's Lovro Mazalin, who averaged 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.0 block; and Buducnost Voli Podgorica's Vasilije Bacovic, who had 17.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.8 steals.

The leading scorer for the tournament was Canarias Basketball Academy's Nobert Janicek, who scored 18.5 points a game on 67 percent shooting while grabbing 7.8 rebounds a game.

Another player to highlight was Partizan's Milos Glisic who, despite not turning 16 until late April, averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 1.3 assists and 1.0 blocks per game – including two double-doubles.

In addition to Crvena Zvezda, NIJT fans may see another one of these teams in Milan as Euroleague officials still has four wild cards to hand out.

Over the past few years two of those have gone to a Chinese youth team and a local team.

David Hein


FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

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