Cibona Zagreb to announce Smush Parker, give coach vote of confidence, blasted by Predrag Saric

Now who saw this one coming? According to Croatia-based news outlet Jutarnji, Cibona Zagreb, having just activated the previously in-limbo Dario Saric (not to mention already eliminated from Eurocup play and in a 6-7 hole in the ABA), will announce the signing of Smush Parker.

Perhaps best known nowadays for serving as Kobe Bryant’s media-side scratching post, Parker has logged court time in China, Greece, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic since last playing in the U.S. with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2008.

Further making things interesting are comments made by Saric’s bombastic father Predrag. As translated by Sportando, father Saric opined that “Cibona owe money to everyone, they don’t have a coach and they expect Dario to save them. The best option for Darius was KK Split…

(For the record, the same story telling of Parker’s arrival also notes that current head coach Daniel Lutz will in fact remain in the position through 2012-13.)

Predrag further went on to comment that at least 10 clubs were willing to sign his son and immediately loan him back to KK Split; apparently, Predrag had little say in the matter after all, however, since relations among family members has become a bit strained.

And BallinEurope asks could the downward spiral of this legendary European basketball club continue? Kobe’d probably say yes…

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Brief impressions: 2011 Nike International Junior Tournament

Congratulations from BallinEurope go out to KK Zagreb Croatia Osiguranje, who are the 2011 Nike International Junior Tournament champions after defeating Žalgiris Kaunas, 76-65, in the championship match this morning. A few observations on the match, if you will…

• First and foremost, there’s Dario Saric. You don’t need BiE to tell you to believe the hype on this dude billed as the next Toni Kukoc after he notched a triple-double of 15/12/10 in this game, but whoa was Saric head and shoulders above the field today.

Saric displayed an incredible all-around game featuring rebounding, leading the fast break, beating his man off the dribble and gorgeous no-look passes – and all this came on the first two Zagreb possessions. Even when his shooting touch was off early (he went for just 3-of-12 shooting in the first half), Saric still established himself as a serious presence in the middle that forced the ball into Žalgiris’ undersized guards’ hands. And the Lithuanian side managed just a woeful 2-of-18 outside the paint in the first half as a result.

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On five prospects in the Nike International Junior Tournament

Running in parallel with the 2011 Euroleague Final Four is the Nike International Junior Tournament, featuring eight teams from around the world (okay, seven from Europe and one from China, technically) packed with youthful prospects moving up the professional ladder. Below, BallinEurope enumerates a few of the players who’ve piqued the interest. And no, this isn’t everyone we’re looking at; most likely, a couple more profiles will be posted tomorrow…

Dario Saric, KK Zagreb – In the opening match against INSEP, Saric played the entire 40 minutes, filling up the stat sheet with an incredible line of 19 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. In helping Zagreb crush FMP the following day, Saric again produced the best numbers of the day with 17 points (including 7-of-8 shooting on free throws), six boards, eight assists and four steals. More incredibly, this happened in “just” 33 minutes of playing time, as the lad fouled out in the fourth quarter.

The only downside to Saric’s game would appear to be some slightly shaky ball-handling skills. Hampered further by the tendency to send the ball through him on literally nearly every trip down the floor – BiE has rarely seen an NIJT player draw so damn many double teams – Saric went for a combined 11 turnovers in the two games.

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