Excitement is in the Croatian Air. Again.
Although the country has been ravaged by a drought of catastrophic proportions, the Croats have something to be proud and excited about during these hard times for the nation.
The indisputable MVP of the latest European Junior Championship, the kid who never seems to be tired of basketball and plays over 70 organized basketball games a season, Dario Saric finally got his name called by the Croatian senior NT coach Jasmin Repesa.
In the midst of the qualifying cycle for the 2013 European Championships in Slovenia, Croatia faced Hungary in the town of Osijek on Friday the 24th of August, 2012. A date to remember.
Even though Adam Hanga hung over the Croatian D on occasion and did his best Kobe Bryant impersonation, the Croatian NT implemented Repesa’s defensive doctrine and took control of things from the very beginning of this interesting basketball game.
Then came the moment every basketball fan in this basketball-sleepy-but-hungry nation waited for, but no one more than the quiet and humble kid with the Mohican hairstyle.
He worked hard over the last 3 years, since he came from Sibenik to Zagreb to fulfill his basketball promise, while training and playing with Croatia’s best seniors.
He never slipped far from the expected development curve. Not only that but he exceeded expectations and is now arguably the best U20 player internationally.
This 6’10’’ point-forward who has a 6’10’’ wingspan is definitely a unique player who has now stepped onto the first major league step on his road to global basketball greatness.
Repesa gave him 14 minutes to show what he has in his bag of tricks and he is certainly not sorry for doing that. Saric responded with 6 points (a couple of breakaway slam dunks+transition jumper), 4 boards, 2 assists and 1 steal.
Saric left an excellent overall impression. Looking comfortable out there and eager to showcase all of his skills, he did all the little things that made his teammates play better; he blitz switched on the defense a couple of times, did a little screen on the top of the key, made quick transition cuts and split the defensive rotation with his perfect passes.
This nationally televised game was a perfect opportunity for Saric to showcase the best of his worldwide known potential. He confirmed his unquestionable values, but also energized the complete team built around future Brooklyn Net forward Bojan Bogdanovic.
Clearly, a completely new era has begun for the Croatian NT. The Saric era.
Marjan Crnogaj, editor-in-chief CroHoops.com
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