Basketball fans have plenty of great talent to observe at the U20 European Championship including seven Greeks who won the silver medal at the U19 World Championships and Lithuanian stud big man Donatas Motiejunas.
Walking around my hotel in Rhodes I noticed right away that this resort is also the players’ hotel for the U20 European Championship.
Heading into the dining area for some evening grub, it’s hard not to notice the Israel team at the buffet. And entering the room came the Lithuanian team. Coming into this tournament it was a big question if Donatas Motiejunas would be accompanying the Lithuanians to Greece. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 17.3 points, 8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and more than a block per game while shooting 58 percent from field, including 7 of 14 from long range. Motiejunas’s biggest game came against Greece as he totaled 28 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when I saw Lithuania’s next great big man enter the dining room.
The Greek team came in as I was leaving. And this was another team I was really anxious to see what it looked like. Of course the event taking place in Greece, it would make sense that the best Greece team would show. But how many of the guys from the silver medal-winning team at the U19 Worlds in New Zealand would show in Rhodes? The final in Auckland was Sunday and the first game in Greece was to be Thursday. That’s not a lot of time to regenerate.
But I was very happy to see the likes of Nikos Pappas, Zisis Sarikopoulos, Vlantimir Giankovits, Kostas Papanikolaou, Kostas Sloukas, Evangelos Mantzaris and Leonidas Kaselakis enter the room. Yeah, this will be a great Greek team. Put them up their as favorites to win the title.
This will however be a strong field.
Turkey are always strong and have loads of talent on this squad, including Melih Mahmutoglu and Mukremin Kilicli.
Among the other talents are Croatians Mario Delas and Tomislav Zubcic; Philipp Schwethelm and Tibor Pleiss of Germany; Niccolo Martinoni of Italy, Spaniard Pablo Aguilar and the French contingent led Edwin Jackson and Antoine Diot.
This list is hardly comprehensive. But it’s a sampling of the future stars on showcase in Greece for the next 10 days.