The EuroLeague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament has developed into one of the world’s most prestigious stops for future stars in basketball. From 2003 onwards, more and more players have used the ANGT to showcase their talents at a young age and gain experience in international club competition. One player who got some great exposure in the ANGT that would help him to future success is defensive ace Branko Lazic of Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. The guard played for U18 FMP Belgrade at the 2007 ANGT Finals in Athens where the tournament was held in parallel with the 2007 EuroLeague Final Four.
Lazic was playing for FMP’s second team during the 2006-07 season and he started the first game for FMP in the ANGT Finals and tallied 7 points and 3 rebounds against Olympiacos Piraeus. FMP followed that victory with another win in the second game against CSKA Moscow in which Lazic was held scoreless in 12 minutes. Playing alongside the likes of Milan Macvan, Dejan Musli and Filip Covic, Lazic bounced back in the final game of the group stage with 4 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists in a victory over Montepaschi Siena. Lazic came off the bench in the ANGT Championship Game against Zalgiris Kaunas and had his best game in the tournament. He collected 11 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal, but it was not enough as Zalgiris claimed the U18 continental title with a 78-74 FMP.
While Lazic moved on to FMP’s second team, the club returned to the ANGT Championship Game in 2008 and 2009 and won the trophy both years before losing in the 2010 ANGT Championship Game. Lazic remained on the European stage and debuted in the EuroCup in 2007-08 as an 18-year-old, collecting 2.6 points and 1.4 rebounds in seven games. He appeared in three more EuroCup games in 2008-09. Lazic gained more responsibility with FMP and that didn’t change when the club agreed to a fusion with Zvezda starting in 2011. Lazic returned to the EuroCup the following season and averaged 3.8 points in 12 games in 2012-13.
Lazic played at Europe’s highest level with Zvezda in 2013-14 when he debuted in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and posted 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in 10 games. Over the next four seasons, Lazic averaged at least 3.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in the EuroLeague for Zvezda. He placed third in the EuroLeague Best Defender voting for the 2017-18 season. After Zvezda spent the 2018-19 campaign in the EuroCup, Lazic and Zvezda returned to the EuroLeague last season, during which he continued to display defensive excellence and chipped in on offense 3.9 points plus 1.3 rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
The 14 points Lazic scored against Valencia Basket in Round 11 last season were the most he tallied since hitting a career-high 17 points against Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul in Round 23 of the 2016-17 season. Lazic has seen plenty of winning in Serbia; he helped his side to the triple crown of the Serbian League and Cup titles and the Adriatic League crown in both 2015 and 2017. He also claimed the Serbian League trophy in 2015-16, 2017-18 and 2018-19, the Serbian Cup in 2013 and 2014 and the Adriatic League in 2016 and 2019. Playing for Serbia, Lazic took home a silver medal at EuroBasket 2017 and won gold at the U18 European Championship 2007.