Turkish Airlines Euroleague
December 07, 2013
Milan Macvan, Hemofarm Stada
by: Aca Ostojic, Belgrade
February 12, 2009
Though still a teenager, Hemofarm Vrsac big man Milan Macvan has established himself as a bona fide rising star in European basketball, so much so that he is drawing comparisons to some big names from the past and present. In Serbia, some liken his game to that of former Partizan and Euroleague star Dejan Milojevic, while others see some Charles Barkley in him. The 19-year-old power forward doesn't spend too much time worrying about that. Right now, he is busy leading Hemofarm's charge in the Last 16 of the Eurocup, with hopes of reaching the Final Eight in Turin, Italy next month. Hemofarm is currently tied for first place in Group K with a 2-1 record, thanks in large part to Macvan exploding in the first three games, with averages of 18 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Altogether, he has the fifth-highest performance index rating average halfway through the Last 16. He also has plans to keep his and Hemofarm's good moment going as long as possible. "My mission in Vrsac is not finished," Macvan told Eurocupbasketball.com. "I came to Hemofarm to win titles, and I won't forget that."
Macvan, who looks older and heavier than most of his generation, was born in 1989 in Vukovar, Croatia. He moved from the city when he was two years old and started playing basketball at the age of 10 in the Belgrade suburb of Zeleznik, famous for FMP's prestigious basketball school. "He joined our club to play for the under-12 team and you could see already then that he was not just another player," said Milan Mandaric, a junior team coach at FMP. "Back then he was already very big, but his style stood out. With him, FMP won almost every competition we played."
Macvan continued to grow taller and to gain strength, but remained very mobile. He learned to shoot from far or near. As such, he could face up against big guys or post up small defenders. For years, Macvan produced results despite playing against older opponents. Even in his junior generation he was younger than Milos Teodosic, now with Olympiacos, or current FMP power forward Dragan Labovic. But Macvan was the leader. He often looked like a man playing with boys, not only because of his great psychical size and strength, but also due to his excellent skills and basketball IQ. His understanding of the game and how to play it more than make up for his lack of athleticism.
Macvan was first called up to the Serbian national team in 2005 for the European Cadets hampionships in Spain. A year later, at the European Junior Championships in Greece, he helped the Serbian team capture fifth place by averaging 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds. Macvan was also getting it done for FMP, leading the club to win the L`Hospitalet tournament the following January. Macvan earned MVP honors at the famed junior tourney with 28 points, 18 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
The summer of 2006 would turn out to be a very special one for Macvan. First came the World Under-19 Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia, where Macvan was part of the Serbian team that took gold. In the final game, the United States rallied from 19 points behind, but could not stop Serbia from winning 74-69. Macvan scored 19 points in the final and his 15.4 points per game average helped him earn tournament MVP honors. One month later, he doubled his gold medal count at the Under-18 European Championships in Madrid. Macvan was named to the all-tournament team, together with MVP Kostas Koufos, Ricky Rubio, Edwin Jackson and Dairis Bertans. Macvan finished the final game against Greece with 32 points and 14 rebounds. He averaged 19.3 points and 10.3 boards at the tournament. With two gold medals in 2007, Macvan placed sixth in FIBA's list of the best young European players of the year, behind Rubio, Teodosic, Marco Belinelli, Koufos and Danilo Gallinari.
The message was becoming clear throughout the continent that Macvan was a player to watch. Hemofarm was smart enough, in the summer of 2007, when he turned 18, to lure Macvan away from FMP. After making his senior debut at the end of 2007 for Hemofarm playing in the Adriatic League and ULEB Cup, Macvan helped his team to reach two finals last season: in the Adriatic League and the Serbian League. Both times Hemofarm lost to Partizan, but Macvan was still hungry. He went on to play for Serbia last summer at the 2008 Under-20 European Championships in Riga, Latvia, leading his team to gold once more, beating Lithuania in the final 96-89. The MVP was Miroslav Raduljica, but Macvan shined in the title game with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
His year-round basketball success has made his life as a teenager much different than that of his friends, but Macvan's perspective on that subject is as solid as his game. "At times, I dream about my old friends' way of life," Macvan says, "but then I catch myself thinking that they don't have all that I have. They have lot of time for joking around, but I have a world championship gold medal."
So far this season Macvan has helped his team fight for a spot in the Adriatic League final four with 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 21 games. In his nine Eurocup games, he is putting up 12.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 26 minutes per game, but he has outdone himself in the Last 16. He opened the new round against Azovmash with competition career highs of 24 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He also added a three-pointer, as he would do a week later in a narrow road loss to then-undefeated Pamesa, when he posted 15 points, the same as his total when Hemofarm beat rival Crvena Zvezda in Week 3. The three-point shot has just added to the many weapons that the 2.06-meter Macvan has developed; if you push him out of the paint, he will hurt you with long-distance shots. If you give him space inside, he will kill you. None of this has seen Macvan's ego grow, despite plenty of speculation as to where his career will take him next.
"I am a Hemofarm player now and my mission in Vrsac is not finished," Macvan says, speaking for himself and several more of Hemofarm's younger generation. "We all are young players and our time is still to come. I came to Hemofarm to win titles, and I won't forget that."