Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Adidas Next Generation Tournament
Andreja Milutinovic, FMP
Oct 13, 2008
by Aca Ostojic, Belgrade
If there has even been a babyfaced superstar in Belgrade suburb Zeleznik, everybody knows that it has to be non other than FMP top prospect Andreja Milutinovic. He has dominated every junior tournament he has taking part of with his unbeatable FMP team last season. Milutinovic, who turned 18 in August, is a rising superstar who looks like a kid who would run away from primary school to play streetball. There is a slight difference, however. Milutinovic is not playing streetball anymore, but giving his opponents troubles in the Adriatic League, as he waits for its Eurocup debut against EclipseJet MyGuide Amsterdam this week. A tall guard with ballhandling, deep range and determination, Milutinovic is set for success. Milutinovic is looking forward to make it to the Eurocup, as he told us in this Eurocupbasketball.com Player Spotlight. "It means a lot of me. There are so many great players in other Eurocup teams, and that would help me to learn a lot," Milutinovic told Eurocupbasketball.com. "I am sure that my game will improve if FMP plays the Eurocup."
Andreja was born in Batocina, around 100 Km south from Serbian capital Belgrade. Obviously, his nickname in team FMP is Batocinac - someone who comes from Batocina. He started to play basketball in his hometown at the early age of 8, something are is not very usual even in Serbian basketball. "My elder brother is the one to blame," Milutinovic admitted. "He persuaded me to start working with my first coach Dragan Kocanovic in Batocina club Sloga. Both my brother and I had to hide that fact from my father, who should not know that I was in a basketball club. I thought that there are more important things in life than playing basketball in a club when you are eight years old."
Milutinovic kept practicing for two years before his father discovered the truth. Andreja's father, Dragan Milutinovic, was a sportsman, however, and he understood his son. Andreja kept working hard and good news came by the start of the millenium. "A club called Zastava asked me to play for them in 2001. It was located in Kragujevac, which is 20 kilometres away from Batocina," Andreja told us. "I agreed because there were much better conditions to develop and become a better player. I had to travel every day from Batocina to Kragujevac and back home, but my father drove me there every day. For five years, man!"
By the time he was 15, Zastava played some friendly games with FMP. Coach Milovan Bulatovic was instantly shocked and considered him a diamond in the rough, ready to be polished. As such, he persuaded Milutinovic to join FMP's junior team selection. Andreja delivered instantly, as he helped FMP to win the Balkans cadet championship and became a member of the under-16 Serbian national team. Andreja joined the FMP junior team and took the Serbian championship in 2007. He also helped FMP to finish second at the 2007 Nike International Junior Tournament in Athens, Greece. The stars in that team were Milan Macvan, Filip Covic and Branko Lazic, but players like Milutinovic, Dejan Musli or Bojan Subotic were set to stay in the junior team in the 2007-08 season, in which FMP just dominated.
Milutinovic averaged 20 points in 4 games to lead FMP to win the Nike International Junior Classification Tournament L’Hospitalet title. Subotic, however, stole the show with 37 points and the game-winning layup in the title game against AXA FC Barcelona. FMP also won the Nike IJT Belgrade at home, downing Lietuvos Rytas 102-99 in the final behind 18 points from Milutinovic. Of course, FMP was the top candidate to win the Nike IJT in the 2008 Final Four in Madrid and Milutinovic did not disappoint. He averaged 14.8 points and 5 rebounds in 8 games to lead FMP to yet another title. Andreja had 18 points and 8 rebounds in the final against Barcelona and was chosen to the all-tournament team, giving him the right to design his exclusive Nike shoes.
All scouts attending the event could not stop talking about this babyfaced scorer who playing like a well-rounded veteran. Everyone agreed about his excellent shooting skills, with quick release, his high basketball IQ and passion for the game. It was logical that FMP would soon promote him to its first team. Milutinovic also showed good passing skills and had no fear to dunk it in traffic. "I will remember May 21, 2008 for the rest of my life," Milutinovic recalls. "That is when I played my first game for senior FMP in the Serbian Superleague. We played against Hemofarm and everything looked nice that day. I had only practiced for 3-4 days with the senior team and I couldn't believe that I was going to make my debut. It happened and I was really surprised." Andreja averaged 3.5 points in 4 Serbian Superleague games. Later on that summer, he became a member of the Adidas Nations team, along with the most talented young players around the continent, in Dallas, United States. Andreja, however, did not play well. "I was too tired from playing with FMP all season but that trip meant a lot to me."
He is fully aware of his weaknesses and knows what he can do well on court. "Shooting is my main weapon, as well as ballhandling, so I think I can be a combo guard. My main weakness is my athletic condition. I know I must get stronger but I hope I will do that in the next year or two," Milutinovic admits. He now hopes to help FMP to make it to the Eurocup next season. FMP starts the competition in the first qualifying round, facing Amsterdam Basketball in a two-way series. If FMP survives, it will go against Ural Great for a regular season spot. "It means a lot of me. There are so many great players in other Eurocup teams, and that would help me to learn a lot. I am sure that my game will improve if FMP plays the Eurocup."
All his future plans go together with FMP, as MIlutinovic sees his future in the same direction as his team. He knows that a lot of talented players left FMP at a very early age, such as Nemanja Aleksandrov, Zoran Erceg, Milos Teodosic or Milan Macvan. "I am not sure if this is the best solution for a young player," Milutinovic sais. "It depends on having the chance to play a lot of minutes and improve. If that happens, I could move to a Euroleague or Eurocup team to play quality minutes. If I have to sit on the bench, I would rather stay in FMP for several years because I feel good in here. This is the best basketball school in the entire continent and I am happy to be part of this." Milutinovic has become an 18-year-old player who soon will become one of the FMP leaders, as his team tries to reach high in all competitions this season.