Borisa Simanic stood out at the 2016 Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT Finals as one of the best players and the U18 Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade talent was ultimately named tournament MVP. Simanic led Zvezda to its third straight ANGT Finals Championship Game by averaging 18 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and an ANGT Finals best 2.8 blocks a game. It was also Simanic’s third straight ANGT Finals Championship Game appearance, having played 10 minutes with 0 points and 1 rebound in Zvezda’s victory over U18 Real Madrid in 2014 and collecting 11 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in Zvedza’s loss to Madrid in last season’s title game.
The 18-year-old forward has credited time spent with Zvezda’s first team that helped him take his game to another level. “I played the last two years at the ANGT. Two years ago, I played fewer minutes. I was two years younger than everyone. Last year was good; we did not win, but we reached the final. I improved a lot,” said Simanic, who turned 18 in late March and signed a long-term professional deal with Zvezda.
The 2.09-meter forward collected 19 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in Zvezda’s loss to U18 FC Barcelona Lassa in this season’s ANGT Finals Championship Game and was chosen MVP in a vote by the tournament’s eight head coaches. “The MVP award means a lot individually, but I would like it much more if we won the tournament and I did not get any awards,” said Simanic.
The native of Ljubovija, Serbia, started playing basketball when he was 7 years old in a small village near his town. When he was 12, he joined Bosnian club Buducnost Bijeljina where people started recognizing his talent. And then at 15 years of age, Crvena Zvezda came calling. After spending the 2014-15 season with the Zvezda junior side, Simanic spent this season with the club’s first team.
Simanic did not play a lot this season for Zvezda, getting into six games in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and nine Adriatic League contests. He averaged 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in the Euroleague and 1.8 points and 0.9 rebounds in the Adriatic League. “The players are stronger physically and technically. When I returned to this level, it was a lot easier for me. But my teammates are super,” he said.
The highlight was in his first Euroleague game against Real Madrid, playing 28 minutes on October 22 while collecting 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal. “Madrid had a big lead so I kind of expected to come in. When I got in, the lead was so big I really didn’t feel any pressure. So I just decided to take the open shots and do the best I can on defense and play hard,” Simanic said.
It was experiences like that and the daily practice with Zvezda’s top team that helped Simanic become the ANGT Finals MVP.