11 - 19
August 2017
7 Djordje Pazin (SRB)
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Pazin, Serbia drawing inspiration from U18 European champion compatriots

PODGORICA (FIBA U16 European Championship 2017) - Djordje Pazin and the Serbia team spent the preparations for the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017 watching their compatriots capture the title at the FIBA U18 European Championship. And now the younger Serbians want to use that inspiration to create their own historical result.

"When we were in the camp we were watching every single game, and we tried to learn from them," said Pazin, referring to Serbia's run to their first U18 continental title since 2009. "They were a great team, a great team, not individuals. And that's what we need here. That's what we need for our team."

Upali decaci na punoletstvo

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Pazin and Serbia booked two wins in the Group Phase, beating Lithuania and Croatia while also suffering a loss to Israel. Next up for Serbia are Germany in the Round of 16. A victory would keep the Serbs alive for their first U16 title since 2007.

Pazin is hoping he and his teammates can accomplish in Podgorica what the current U18 Serbian generation could not - qualify for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup. Serbia lost to Turkey in the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2015 and then to Finland in Classification 5-8 to miss the U17 global spectacle in 2016.

"That's a pretty tough task for us, but we think we can achieve that. Also because our older generation won (FIBA) U18 (European Championship)," said Pazin, who must finish in the top five in Montenegro with his team to qualify for the U17 tournament next year in Argentina. "The (FIBA U17 Basketball) World Cup would be amazing - to play against the United States, Argentina and all the other great teams. A World Cup is a World Cup. It would be a great experience for sure."

Pazin is actually getting exposure to the world on a daily basis when he is with his club Stellazzurra Basketball Academy in Rome. Besides playing with various age groups as well as as the third division in Italy, the small forward interacts with players from throughout the world in the club - with youngsters from various countries in Africa, other Balkan countries, Georgia, Romania, as well as players from more exotic places such as Malta and India.

"It's a bit crazy. You can really learn a lot of stuff from the other guys," said Pazin, who helped Stellazzurra to the Italian U16 national title this past season. "I am learning dishes from India and learning languages like French."

It was actually the learning at an international school - which is the case for him with Stellazzurra - which prompted Pazin to come to the Rome academy instead of head to one of the bigger clubs in Belgrade.

"I didn't know anybody there but I heard they had a good school. And that was the point why I made my decision," said Pazin, who was born and raised in Cuprija, a town of about 20,000 people in the central part of Serbia about an hour and half drive from Belgrade.

Pazin has been the leader of the Serbia team in Podgorica with team-highs in points (19.7), rebounds (6.3) and steals (2.0) while dishing out 1.7 assists and hitting 42 percent of his three-pointers.

And while the stats show that Pazin plays a dominant role in the offense - with 51 shots in three games compared to 24 for the next most on the team - he is also the most efficient player on Serbia. And he only has committed two turnovers in 90 minutes of action.

In addition, Serbia are playing well as a team. They are allowing less than 62 points a game and are third in steals. The Serbs also are second in the tournament in assists and commit the second-fewest turnovers.

That sure sounds like a group of players not playing like individuals but as a team - just like this Serbian U16 team learned from watching their compatriots do in winning the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017.