Despite being favourite from the outset, Dario Saric (Croatia) of Anadolu Efes had to hold off a strong challenge from Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) of the Milwaukee Bucks to secure his second FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year award. Saric was incredible in the Adriatic League last season and proved his worth as a big game player in leading Cibona Zagreb to the title before making his big move to Turkey and Euroleague action in the off-season. Here’s how the voting shaped up:
Dario Saric – 25.3%
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 23%
Cedi Osman – 11.8%
Aleksandar Vezenkov – 7.8%
Domantas Sabonis – 7.6%
Jusuf Nurkic – 7.4%
Stefan Peno – 4.6%
Federico Mussini – 4.3%
Dragan Bender – 4.3%
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – 3.9%
Saric joins Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania/Toronto Raptors) and Ricky Rubio (Spain/Minnesota Timberwolves) as a two-time winner of this award. A combination of fan and expert voting was used to decide the winner.
FIBA Europe President Turgay Demirel praised Saric for his win. “I congratulate Dario Saric, winner of the FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year Award. Dario joins elite company by winning this award in back-to-back years. In 2014, with his impressive performance for Croatia at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, and his strong play for Cibona Zagreb and Anadolu Efes, Dario showed that he is on his way to being one of our sports’ biggest stars in Europe and throughout the world,” said Demirel.
The FIBA Europe head’s views were echoed by FIBA Europe regional director Kamil Novak: “Dario Saric has been at the forefront of the men’s game in Europe already for some time now, so it is easy to forget that he is still only 20 years old. I have been watching his development for some time and I am sure I have only witnessed the beginnings of what is set to be a remarkable career.”
Saric, whose NBA rights are held by the Philadelphia 76ers, is averaging 11.2 points 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 24 minutes per game with Efes in Euroleague.