Filip Petrusev (left No. 8) and Marko Pecarski (No. 15) celebrate winning the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017. Can their bond maybe lead them to playing together for Gonzaga? Photo: FIBA

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Gonzaga hoops junkies will be anxiously awaiting any kind of news from the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp running from Friday to Sunday at the NBA All-Star festivities in Los Angeles.

After all, Zags are hoping that Serbian 2018 class commit Filip Petrusev does some yeoman’s work and can help convince his compatriot and fellow BWB Global camper Marko Pecarski to join Gonzaga next season as well.

Time is tight though.

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Pecarski just turned 18 years old on February 12, meaning he could sign a professional contract with Serbian club Partizan Belgrade. Pecarski joined Partizan over the off-season after coming over from German side Bayern Munich, where he played one season – though technically he spent part of the campaign at Mega Bemax Belgrade.

Partizan would love to get his signature on a contract – both because of his high talent level, but also because they could work out some buyouts if he heads to another bigger club or heads to the NBA.

Some Zags fans are hoping that with Pecarski on the west coast of the United States for the BWB Global Camp that maybe he could make a trip up to Spokane to see the campus and team. That is a questionable proposition given that the BWB activities run until Sunday and he would still need to fly back to Serbia before playing at the Euroleague Basketball-run Adidas Next Generation Tournament Belgrade, which runs from Friday February 23 to Sunday February 25.

That being said, there is a long, strong bond between Petrusev and Pecarski, who have gone through some major highs and lows together.

They were bottom level players on the Serbian team that lost to Turkey in the quarter-finals of the FIBA U16 European Championship 2015, missing out on a chance to qualify for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2016.

The Serbian duo then in 2016 hung out together in the United States, playing in the 2016 Jordan Brand Classic Global Game.

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Petrusev and Pecarski were then back in Serbian dress together for their own age group at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016, hoping to win Serbia’s first U16 crown since 2007. But Petrusev got injured after just five minutes in the first game and did not play the rest of the tournament. Serbia ended up losing to neighbors Montenegro in the round of 16 to finish in 10th place.

All that was forgotten last summer when Petrusev and Pecarski – as bottom level players – helped Serbia win the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017, the country’s first U18 trophy since 2009.

And there is the possible bond of this summer’s FIBA U18 European Championship 2018 as Serbia hope to qualify for the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 – after missing the tournament in 2017. And Petrusev and Pecarski can even get the U18 European repeat.

Even Pecarski being at Partizan might give Gonzaga a boost since the Belgrade club’s leading scorer (16.9 ppg) is former Zags star Nigel Williams-Goss, who is also tops on the team in assists (6.9 apg). And Williams-Goss surely has put in a good word or two about Mark Few’s program in the northwest of the United States.

And there is another Zags connection at the BWB Global Camp as former Gonzaga star Domantas Sabonis of the Indiana Pacers will be coaching one of the teams and former Zags fan favorite and NBA veteran Ronny Turiaf will also be on hand.

That all adds up to a lot of Gonzaga connections … and also gives Zags fans good reason to at least be excited that they have a chance to be rooting for Marko Pecarski next season in Spokane.

A little more work from Petrusev this weekend definitely wouldn’t hurt.

 

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