|24 July 2011|
U20 European Championship
|Shy Nikola Mirotic will have to get used to being a household name after Sunday night|
Nikola Mirotic is leaving Bilbao with a heavy load in his luggage. The Spain power forward collected first the title of the top scorer of the tournament, then a gold medal and finally, the MVP trophy.
Even if the U20 European Championship MVP is immune to the kind of playful superstition that characterises most sportsmen, it will be hard for him not to acknowledge there was almost a sense of destiny in his achievement.
Mirotic, a humble, almost reluctant super star, was chosen as the face of the tournament in the promotional posters around Bilbao a long time before the first tip-off, as the organisers felt he best embodies the combination of skill, talent and ethos that, ultimately, are the values and qualities that FIBA Europe aspires these young athletes will take from their participation in a Youth European Championship and will carry with them for the rest of their careers.
He then went on to not only top the scorers table, but also break the tournament record in points per game, averaging in excess of 27, in the very city that the previous holder of the record since 2004, Kostas Vasileiadis of Greece, plys his trade since last year.
The Spanish forward was voted as the MVP by the accredited media and the head coaches of the 16 teams that took part in the championship, collecting close to 85 percent of the votes.
The same panel elected the four players that would play alongside the reluctant MVP in an ideal five:
All Tournament Team:
Nikola Mirotic (Spain)
Furkan Aldemir (Turkey)
Alessandro Gentile (Italy)
Bojan Dubljevic (Montenegro)
Evan Fournier (France)
France guard Evan Fournier can take also take pride in another, collective award, as Les Bleus were elected by the championship commisioners as the recipient of the Fair Play award.