Ziga Samar emerging as the next big guard from Slovenia

2023-01-31T11:29:28+00:00 2023-01-31T11:29:28+00:00.

Aris Barkas

31/Jan/23 11:29


Ziga Samar is not Luka Doncic, but don’t sleep on him and his abilities

By Aris Barkas/ barkas@eurohoops.net

Do you know the story of a Slovenian guard who came up with Olimpija Ljubljana, moved to Real Madrid, and was hailed as of the top prospects of his generation? No, this is not about Luka Doncic, even if the path of Ziga Samar is similar.

Hot on the heels of Doncic, another player from Slovenia, two years younger than him, moved to Spain. He won the 2019 Adidas Next Generation Tournament and he is the next big thing out of the Balkan country. And while it’s unfair for anyone to be compared to a generational talent like Doncic, Samar is already leaving his mark on the 7DAYS EuroCup, where he plays with Veolia Towers Hamburg on loan after signing last summer with traditional German power ALBA Berlin.

The 22-year-old guard is having a season that solidifies his status as one of the players who will be part of the European elite in the near future. He is already averaging 9.1 points and 5.8 assists, being a big part of Hamburg’s system at an age when very few players are ready for such a competitive level.

To be exact, Samar ranks fourth in the EuroCup in assists, just a hair over his teammate Kendale McCullum, and that’s not a small feat by any means. He’s one of the prime candidates to win the EuroCup Rising Star award, an honor shared in the past by players like Donatas Motjejunas, Jonas Valanciunas, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dzanan Musa.

In last week’s road win against Slask Wroclaw, Samar’s abilities were on full display. In one of his best games yet, in just 24 minutes of action, he scored 17 points and dished 11 assists. Obviously, both he and Hamburg need much more. They are more than capable of making the playoffs, however, they would be considered underdogs almost against every opponent.

And pretty much that’s the story of Samar’s career so far. Despite being a top talent, he was also an underdog, automatically compared with a player who is already considered among the all-time greats at 23 years of age.

However, there’s also another angle to this. Samar has already signed a four-year contract with ALBA Berlin and this season is more than proving that he can make the move to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. No matter what the final results of Hamburg are, this can be considered a breakout season by any means for Samar and Berlin is waiting for him with open arms.

In the meantime, there are still six games left in this EuroCup Regular Season and probably at least one more knockout contest with chances for a longer streak.

With his immediate future pretty much already streamlined, Samar can build upon what he has already achieved and make the most of this season, which already has had some ups and downs for Hamburg, including a coaching change.

And this can end up being the perfect combination. As Samar is evolving as a player, getting more confidence, and producing bigger numbers, Hamburg will also benefit from his rise on the quest to create something more memorable than last season. After all, while Hamburg turned its share of heads last year, the Towers ended up having a modest 6-10 record and were defeated in the first knock-out game by Valencia Basket in a contest that ended up with an 18-point difference.

With Samar steadily improving and the knockout games presenting an ideal field for upsets, the Slovenian guard will get his shot. Nobody should sleep on him.