One of the players most looking forward to the EUROLEAGUE BASKETBALL ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT Qualifying Tournament Coin was Marko Pecarski. The 2000-born top talent was looking forward to finally making his debut with U18 FC Bayern Munich. And what a debut it was.
Pecarski's first game at ANGT Coin saw him collect 16 points and 24 rebounds against U18 Cibona Zagreb. The 24 rebounds tied an ANGT record set by Jonas Valanciunas with U18 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in 2010. Pecarski then left Mega and joined Bayern in early January.
In addition to being his first game with Bayern, it was Pecarski's first game since November 25. That game came for U18 Mega Bemax Belgrade against Zeleznicar in Serbia.
"It's a great feeling (to be back on the court). It would be much better if we had won. But it's good to be back. Even though I am not ready, it's good to play the game," said Pecarski.
"I had flu the last couple of days, but I wanted to help my team at this tournament and support them. It's tough with the conditioning because I didn't practice for a while, but I tried to give my full effort."
Pecarski followed that first game with 28 points and 11 rebounds in Bayern's second loss against U18 Real Betis Energia Plus Seville.
The son of former EuroLeague champion Miroslav Pecarski made just 6-of-14, or 43%, of his shots from the field in his first game. But he shot better against Betis, hitting 10-of-15 (67%) including 3-of-4 three-pointers.
The 2.06-meter Pecarski is considered one of the top players of the 2000 generation. But after just more than one season with Mega, which included him helping the team win the ANGT Rome tournament and play at the ANGT Finals in Berlin, he decided to leave Serbia and landed with Bayern.
"Last year with Mega was amazing. You can see all the accomplishments I made as a player and the team as well. Me and my parents made the decision because I need to grow as a player and a person," said Pecarski, who will play with Bayern's teams in the U19 NBBL league and the third division ProB. "Bayern and Germany is a great place for that. And we believe in the decision."
Pecarski said it was tough starting in a new country on his own, save for his parents being in Munich for the first couple of weeks.
"Now I am on my own. It's not easy, but I want to do everything I can for my career," he said. "And if that means I should leave home, then that's it."
Pecarski, who turns 17 on Sunday, said he talks a lot to his father, who won the EuroLeague title with Panathinaikos in 1996.
"He played at the highest level and knows what it takes to get there. He always tells me that talent doesn't mean much in senior basketball if you don't work hard."
Pecarski may be playing his third season in the ANGT but he also knows it's hard for him to be a leader just yet.
"I'm a new player here, so it takes time to become a leader on a new team," he said. "It's my first games, but I try to be positive all the time and help the guys however I can."
He's well on his way to doing that by just letting his game on the court speak for itself.