How do you quiet one of those notoriously airplane-loud crowds in Belgrade? Eighteen-year-old Nikola Ivanovic, showing poise beyond his years, had the answer to that riddle on Saturday in Team Montenegro’s Eurobasket 2013 qualifying round game against Serbia. To cap the stunning upset victory, Ivanovic calmly launched a near-halfcourt three, struck gold and instantly utterly silenced a stunned Serbian house.
Coming off the bench for Team Montenegro in this tournament, Ivanovic logged a total of 14 minutes in the 73-71 win, going 3-of-4 from the field with none more important than the emphatic dagger.
All in all, not too shabby a performance for a guy who was playing for Montenegro in the FIBA U16 European Championship just two years ago, in the Adidas Eurocamp this summer … and who doesn’t have to date a FIBA profile card.
In the 2010 U16s, Ivanovic was top scorer for Montenegro, who was perhaps the surprise team of the pool play rounds before getting knocked out by Lithuania in the first tournament game.
After the Eurocamp experience, the excellent Eurohopes noted of Ivanovic, “Extremely matured and experienced … Standing at 6’1” (1.85m) he may lack some size; however, at Adidas Eurocamp competing with opponents even four years older, he showed that average height does not prevent him from playing at the highest level. In addition, the playmaker from Montenegro seems somehow limited athletically, but makes it up with other physical tools.”
Eurohopes goes on to note Ivanovic’s “amazing ball-handling, natural-born feel for the game and flow, stating that he “is ready at the age of 17 to play … at the senior level in a major role.”
Ivanovic is certainly making Ivanovic look prescient today … and Montenegro may toast their newest hoops hero.
Props to Spanish-language (!) Belgrado Basketball for the tip!