|18 April 2012|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Nikola Mirotic, born in 1991, is the second youngest (after Jorge Sanz) player on the Real Madrid roster but you'd never guess it by his performance index rating in the Euroleague, 14.6 per game |
Nikola Mirotic has done very well for himself in his young career.
Last season, Real Madrid decided to test the young Spanish international in both the domestic league (ACB) and the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, and he responded big style.
Mirotic was particular effective at putting the ball in the basket.
The 2.08m forward hit three-pointers, pull-up jumpers and scored on drives to the bucket.
In one memorable game against Montepaschi Siena, he led Madrid to an unlikely victory that kept them on track to reach the Euroleague Final Four.
He was presented with the Euroleague Rising Star Trophy.
Mirotic had been so prolific that many wondered if he was ready to step up to the senior team and play for Spain at the EuroBasket in Lithuania.
As it was, he happily remained with his age group and not only competed at the U20 European Championship but led the Spaniards to the gold medal after averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in Bilbao, to be voted tournament MVP almost unanimously.
Mirotic has had many a fine performance in the Euroleague again this year and this week was once again named as the Rising Star Trophy winner.
The second youngest player in the Madrid side led his team in performance index rating, 14.6 per game.
He ranked among the team's top three in scoring, shooting percentage from all ranges, rebounding, steals and fouls drawn.
Additionally, Mirotic was the Euroleague's single best free-throw shooter.
Mirotic buried 56 of 61 (91.8%) at the line.
"I didn't expect to win it," he admitted.
"I had a good season and I didn't know if I could repeat it.
"I was competing with other great players like (Milan) Macvan, who had a good campaign."
Making the award even more impressive is that Mirotic has now claimed it twice, something that no other player has done.
"I'm very happy for the award and to become the first ever player to achieve it twice in a row," he said.
"It is an added motivation to continue fighting, improving and helping the team.
"This achievement is a great step in my career and a wonderful award.
"It gives me a lot of enthusiasm but I don't want to settle just for this and I will continue to work, focused on my team."