|Dario Saric is presented with the 2014 FIBA Europe Young Men's Player of the Year award by FIBA Europe Board Member Zeljko Draksic|
On Thursday night, fans in Arena Zagreb had double reason for celebration, as they applauded hosts Croatia for a 97-79 win in their friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Dario Saric for his 2014 FIBA Europe Young Men's Player of the Year award.
Prior to tip-off, Saric was presented with the award by FIBA Europe Board Member and Croatian Basketball Federation Secretary General, Zeljko Draksic.
Prior to Saric winning in 2013 and 2014, Valanciunas had taken out the previous two awards, whilst Rubio reigned supreme from 2007 to 2009.
Saric eclipsed other nominations in the process of earning the honour, which was voted on by selected journalists and fans, edging out Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo and Turkey's Cedi Osman, who finished second and third respectively.
It was another headline-writing year for Saric, one in which the forward truly established himself in senior men's basketball as he led Cibona Zagreb to glory in the Adriatic League with an MVP performance in the Final Four.
A third campaign in the Croatian senior men's team followed, averaging 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds on his team's run to the Round of 16 at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
2014 also marked two major milestones for the 1994-born youngster: a move away from his native Croatia to continue his professional career in Istanbul, playing for Anadolu Efes, and a 12th overall pick in the NBA Draft, selected by the Orlando Magic, before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 21-year-old is looking to build on his success at EuroBasket 2015, as he is expected to assume an extended role for co-hosts Croatia in their bid to clinch qualification to Rio 2016.