The basketball club Mega MIS is celebrating a jubilee this season – 25 years since its founding. Over the past quarter-century, Mega has become a kind of record-holder, being the club outside of the American continent with the highest number of players drafted into the NBA – a total of 15. It has gained significant recognition worldwide for its work with young basketball players. In the recently concluded World Championship, 10 former Mega players competed, three of whom won silver with Serbia. In the upcoming NBA season, nine players who once represented Mega will be playing.
As per tradition, Mega will start its eleventh season in the ABA League as the youngest team, not only in the region but in the whole of Europe if we consider the highest level of competition.
“The average age of our team is 19.9, making us even younger than last season. We are accustomed to taking the risk of giving opportunities to talented but inexperienced players on the big stage. They have our trust, which may be even greater this season, considering that the most experienced player in the team will be our returning captain, Uroš Plavšić, who is coming back after completing his college career in the US. Despite this, our ambitions for this competitive season remain unchanged. These are primarily the development and promotion of young talents, which is only possible through hard work and a maximum approach to every training session and game. The previous season was more than successful, and we hope to mark this jubilee 25th season with good games and even better results,” says Goran Ćakić, who has been serving as the general manager of Mega for 11 years.
A crucial step in the development of players in the Mega system is playing for OKK Beograd, with which Mega MIS has had a very successful partnership for six seasons. The fact that more than two-thirds of the players on the senior roster have played for OKK Beograd further demonstrates that the system established in Mega is functioning flawlessly.
“Nikola Topić, Stefan Miljenović, Timotej Malovec, Andrija Jelavić, Luka Paunović, Filip Jović, and Mihailo Milutinović had an excellent season with OKK Beograd, culminating in their promotion to the Super League of Serbia. Through their work with coach Vule Avdalović, they are well-prepared for the transition to the senior team of Mega, where, alongside Nikola Đurišić, who is already in his fourth season as a first-team player at the age of 19, returning player Plavšić, veterans Kovačević and Kobzistij, and newcomers Popović and Ilijasolua, we hope they will create real chemistry, play beautiful and good basketball, and progress day by day,” Ćakić notes.
Following a very successful debut season on Mega’s bench, which resulted in qualification for the ABA League playoffs and the finals of the Radivoj Korać Cup, coach Marko Barać received recognition from the NBA through an invitation to be part of the coaching staff of the current NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets, during the Summer League:
“Coach Barać is highly dedicated to his work and his further improvement. This is evidenced by the fact that immediately after the season, he went to the USA at the invitation of the Nuggets, where he was part of the coaching staff during the Summer League. This season, he will be even richer with that very nice and useful experience,” Ćakić stated and then added:
“His coaching staff will look different this season. One of the most important pieces in Mega’s system over the past six years – conditioning coach Marko Sekulić, has left for Beşiktaş, but he has been replaced by Pavle Tasić, his long-time collaborator in Mega. We are pleased that our former assistant coaches Ilić and Tomović have found new, good engagements, so alongside the head coach Marko Barać and team manager Novica Veličković, the assistants in the new season will be Miloš Mitrović and Branislav Božović, bringing with them new experiences and knowledge. In addition to them, there are assistant coach Dejan Pejić, who is also the coach of the club’s youth selection, as well as physiotherapists Vanja Radojević and Miloš Savić, who have been part of Mega’s coaching staff for many years, aiming to maintain continuity in player development, which is also very important,” Ćakić briefly paused and then emphasized:
“Every member of the coaching staff of such a large system like Mega is very important, and the players coming from the youth system are well-prepared and trained in the style of play thanks to our youth coaches. Although they had another brilliant season in terms of results, winning three titles along with another excellent participation in the junior EuroLeague, the most important thing is that these players are as well-prepared as possible to face the challenges of senior basketball. This year’s club selection, like the previous ones, shows very successful work in the youth categories in that regard.”
Mega has once again started preparations for the new season ahead of most clubs in the whole of Europe. They began training on July 24th:
“Starting from the games against the University of Southern California in Mykonos and other friendly matches, to the ABA Super Cup in Podgorica, we must be satisfied with what the team has shown. We received a lot of positive comments from the participants of the Super Cup as well as numerous basketball professionals, because we played three really good games in Podgorica and showed very attractive basketball. This shows us that we are on the right track and gives us the right to believe that what the coaching staff is doing is heading in the right direction. However, we are aware that as a young team, we will face many challenges and fluctuations during the season, and we are prepared for that.”
In the upcoming competitive season, Mega MIS will play its home games in the ABA League at the Ranko Žeravica Sports Hall. The standout for the audience will undoubtedly be the point guard Nikola Topić, who drew the attention of the entire basketball community with his performances in 2023 and earned an invitation from national team coach Pešić to the extended roster for the World Cup preparations in Manila.
“We are pleased that Topić is a part of Mega this season. Great things happened to him in the past half-season he had with OKK Beograd. He also won a gold medal at the Junior European Championship and rightfully won the MVP title of the championship. Despite being extremely young, he shows a high level of composure and maturity on the court for his age. I am convinced that Mega is the right environment for him, and he will make himself and his teammates even better with his work and performances throughout the season,” emphasized the General Manager of Mega.
In the first round of the ABA League, Mega MIS will play away in Ljubljana against Cedevita Olimpija, and their first home game will be on Friday, October 6th, at 8:00 PM at the Ranko Žeravica Sports Hall against Borac. Entrance to this game will be free, as will be for most of Mega’s games in the upcoming season.
“We invite the residents of Novi Beograd, as well as all basketball enthusiasts, to support our young team from the first game in the Ranko Žeravica Sports Hall against Borac. Fan support is very important to our young team, and we hope that the Ranko Žeravica Sports Hall will be well-filled throughout the season, and we will make sure that they enjoy beautiful and exciting basketball in our jubilee 25th year of the club,” concluded Ćakić.