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Pekovic powers team Partizan

LONDON (The Friday EuroVision) - It's way too early to start handing out awards in European basketball but give credit where it's due - Partizan Igokea - or Partizan Belgrade as they are traditionally known.

This team is kicking proverbial tail in both the Adriatic League and the Euroleague.

In the former, they have won nine of 10 games and sit atop the standings, while in the latter they are 3-2 after Wednesday's 91-86 home victory over Lottomatica Roma.

And the biggest reason for this excellent start?

That's easy. He is the 2.1m center Nikola Pekovic.

And you know what else? This guy appears to have his head screwed on straight.

He likes to avoid interviews and prefers instead to do his talking on the court where, make no mistake, he's been loud and clear so far.

In the Euroleague, he's got the eye-popping average of 21.4 points and making 71.4% (40 of 56) from the floor.

Pekovic is zero-for-zero from three-point range.

I even like that because Pekovic is a no nonsense, traditional low post player wreaking havoc where it needs to be wreaked - INSIDE.

Let's face it. Not all seven-footers pop outside like Andrea Bargnani to put up three-pointers.

In one of the rare interviews that he has given this season after a recent practice, Pekovic maintained a sense of humility that bodes well for himself, for Partizan and Montenegro.

That's right, this 21-year-old handful of a player is Montenegrin! Look out, EuroBasket 2011, here they come.

"I'm really glad I am playing at this high level," Pekovic said to the journalists who cover Partizan.

"But, the team is first place on my list of priorities.

"Partizan is a system, not just a sum of good individuals.

"I can be MVP of one game, but tomorrow it will be someone else, and in the next game, it will be a third person.

"Victories are most important, not individual statistics. That's why I say that my contribution is just 'my contribution to the team', not to me, as an individual player.

"I'm not important in a game. The team is important. That's Partizan's philosophy."

Hey Nikola, thanks for a breath of fresh air.

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor, a North Carolina native and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, has been a journalist since 1990. He started covering international basketball after moving to Europe in 1996. Jeff provides insight and opinion every week about players and teams on the old continent that are causing a buzz.