Hosts Germany have a high class team full of talent, making them one of the top contenders to win the 2016 Albert Schweitzer Tournament - Photo DBB

Hosts Germany have a high class team full of talent, making them one of the top contenders to win the 2016 Albert Schweitzer Tournament – Photo DBB

 

 

Here is my look back at the first day of the 2016 Albert Schweitzer Tournament.

Serbia beat Australia 87-58

First game of the 2016 AST for me and arrived late in the first half – thanks to the German Railways DB for sending my first train about 30 minutes “earlier” than planned from Regensburg to Munich – something I have never heard of in my life. But oh well.

I knew most of the Serbian team already having been to last year’s ANGT Finals in Madrid and U18 European Championship and FIBA U19 World Championship as well as the ANGT Belgrade the past two years. But the Australian team was a complete unknown.

Let’s start with Serbia…

One of the things I wanted to see was how this group would perform as a team – considering there really isn’t anybody missing – other than the torn ACL victim Aleksandar Aranitovic. So, this will be the team Milan Gurovic has in Samsun for the U18 Euros.

It’s very heavy Crvena Zvezda dominant with six of the players from the Belgrade powers. And the team’s success will depend on how the other players fit around the Zvezda stars Borisa Simanic and Aleksa Radanov. Aleksa Uskokovic is an adequate small point guard but Stefan Momirov – born December 18, 1999 – can definitely slot into the position as well and is much more of a scoring threat. But it seems like Gurovic will be using Mega Leks’ Novak Music as a real ball-handler and playmaker – though he’s more of a two guard than true PG, see 1 assist to 3 turnovers. But he doesn’t mind really getting after it on defense. But it would be nice to see Momirov play the one with Music on the wing.

And when Radanov is on the floor, he likes to have the ball in his hands a lot as well, meaning they both can be ready to shoot as well. Radanov is becoming a real cheeseball for me. He’s got a great game and shows some emotion and gets his teammates pumped up and into games.

One of the guys he really seems to hang with is Simanic – who had a much of a ho-hum game as possible for him: 11 points on 3-of-7 shots – including 1-of-4 threes – to go with six rebounds and three blocks. He will need to get used to playing with Music – or maybe better said the other way around. After a really poor Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in Toronto but then a solid ANGT Belgrade, his role in this team is something I really want to see over the course of this event.

Consider heinnews in the camp of Milos Glisic fans. The Partizan big man continues to just chug along with his low post game. He abuses opponents in the blocks who he should be abusing – eight fouls drawn against a good-sized but totally inexperience Australia bigs. Glisic turned those fouls into 10-of-10 from the free throw line while picking up seven rebounds to go with his 18 points in less than 19 minutes.

One of the guys for whom this AST is very important is Andrija Marjanovic. The 1999-born guard comes from the Barcelona program and needs to find his spot and role in the team. And it seemed in the first game that he was pressing a bit too much. He did tally 11 points on eight shots but he turned the ball over five times in 17 minutes without an assist. It will be interesting to see how he plays from here on out as he gets used to the team.

The final two guys I will look at are my two real revelations from the ANGT Belgrade tournament – Stefan Djordjevic from Zvezda and Aleksa Stepanovic from Spars Sarajevo.

As mentioned previously in writing and the Taking The Charge podcast, Djordjevic is a real cheeseball of mine. He put up amazing numbers at ANGT and was one of the quietest players on the court – head down and work. If he were two or three inches taller he would be getting huge press. He’s only been playing seriously for about 18 months – the last six or so with Zvezda. And he tallied four points, two rebounds and one steal in 17 minutes. This was his first time at this level and I am certain those numbers will go up drastically over the course of the AST as he becomes more relaxed.

Stepanovic only played 6 minutes with two points on two free throws while missing two shots. Djordjevic at least offers Gurovic a low post presence and someone who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work – two areas in which this Serbian team isn’t loaded. Despite having good length, Stepanovic is more of an outside-in player who likes to play on the wing. And while Djordjevic plays for Zvezda, Stepanovic plays in Bosnia for Spars so it might take him longer to get his spot in the team.

Australia meanwhile is a really young squad with three 1999-born players and two from 2000. And the team was clearly not ready for the level of the Serbians to start this tournament – the whole deer in headlights.

But there are a couple of interesting players on the Aussies squad.

Matthew Kenyon – 1998 – probably leads the group, an exciting guard who can really slash and handle the ball a bit. He has some good athleticism as well and didn’t really show as much of the passivity as so many of the guys did. He will be one of the main guys to watch in the coming days.

The Sudanese-born Lat Mayen Nai – also 1998 – showed some real passion on the defensive end as well as aggressiveness on the boards. Offensively he still has lots to work on, but the energy is really good.

Sam Froling stands out because of the name – three siblings who have already played at youth FIBA World Championships – and because he’s one of the 2000s. He has good length but it doesn’t seem he will be as bulky as his brother Harry is. Sam showed flashes but was still a bit over-matched against the experienced and strong Serbs. He could definitely shine against teams like Argentina and Japan. So, it might be better to wait and see how he plays the rest of the tournament.

The other 2000-born is Callum Dalton, who has some good size and will be better the rest of the tournament – just like the rest of the team.

I didn’t really watch as much of the Australians in the game as the Serbs. Tom Fullarton has a nice frame and athleticism but he was especially passive on offense though it seemed he has the handle and physicality to get past his defender and do some damage.

Will Magney seems to be the most advanced of the bigs and he had some decent moves down low and fought in the blocks physically, grabbing seven rebounds.

Again, this is a team that will need at least two more viewings to really get a better grasp of. So, stay tuned.

 

 

Greece beat Egypt 104-58

This was the first game at the other venue in Viernheim, which of course I did not attend so cannot really provide so much analysis.

In general, the result doesn’t surprise me that much, especially because Greece have 10 of 12 guys from 1998 while Egypt only have three 1998 players and three from 2000.

Will be seeing these two teams on Day Two and can provide more analysis after that … stay tuned.

 

Turkey knock off Argentina 72-54

The biggest thing I take from this first game is that Turkey is not really a good team in this constellation. Obviously they are missing Ömer Yurtseven and Muhaymin Mustafa. The group would look a lot different if those two were on board.

But this team has two faces – one with 1998-born Ömer Al as point guard and then with 1999 Onuralp Bitim creating play when Al is on the bench.

Bitim is one of the main guys I wanted to see coming into the tournament after he played so well as the leader of the Turkish U16 team last summer that took third place at the U16 European Championship. Having only seen him on live stream from the U16 Euros, it definitely looks like Bitim built up his lower half while in the United States and beefing up his shoulders a bit. But by judging from pre-game and unfortunately only rare cases of in-game, it really hasn’t affected his athleticism.

Bitim didn’t really see much of the ball while Al was on the court – not reading anything into that, just stating a point. It would seem that Bitim needs to be more a part of the game if Turkey want to have a chance to medal – or even finish in the top five – of the U18 European Championship this summer. If Bitim even plays in Samsun – which it would seem would be the case.

With Al on the bench, Bitim did dominate the ball – sometimes with some questionable shot selection. He ended up with 21 points but it would be worthwhile to go back and look and see how many of his points were with Al out of the game. He also did knock down 4-of-7 three-pointers.

The other body I was looking forward to seeing for Turkey was Ahmet Can Duran. Bronek Wawrzynczuk told me that he thinks Duran lost another 7 or 8 kilos since the ANGT in Kaunas in January. Duran definitely seems to be on a good path physically. He kind of struggled in the game against some pretty long Argentina interior players. And that is one thing Duran does not have is length. He really wasn’t able to be effective around the rim – 2-of-9 field goals – which is something of a surprise because he was always pretty good around the basket. He did still grab eight rebounds. I hope it’s more of a first-game thing and he improves on that over the course of the tournament.

Ömer Al meanwhile controlled the Turkish offense completely with 19 points, five rebounds and six assists – with just one turnover. He also nailed 4-of-8 three-pointers. He hit just 27 percent of his threes at last summer’s U18 European Championship so if he’s closer to the 50 percent mark then 27 percent mark, that makes him a nice weapon.

That’s all I have on Turkey. Sorry Turkish fans. But I will definitely see them a couple more times and will make sure I get some more on the other guys.

Argentina came into the game with mainly a 1998 team along with one 1999 born player and one from 2000. The South Americans also have some good length with five players at 2.06m or taller.

The Argentines kept the game close for a while despite losing probably their best player, starting point guard Facundo Corvalan after just 67 seconds. The back-up was 1999-born Lautaro Lopez, who will be the main playmaker for Argentina at this summer’s FIBA U17 World Championship. Lopez picked up three fouls pretty quickly but he was charged with the task of trying to slow down Ömer Al. Lopez seemed to do a decent job running the team though he had a lot of help from Santiago Vaulet – who is the team’s second-best player – a nice all-around game.

Will write more on this team after the second viewing.

 

Italy hold off China 78-74

The second game in Viernheim saw China stick close and lose a tight one against Italy. Again, this analysis will be based mainly on the stats and not on seeing the game.

The fact that China was in the game doesn’t surprise me because this is a team of only 1999-born players – eight of whom played together last summer at the FIBA Asia U16 Championship.

Zhu Rongzhen has good size and Italy clearly had problems containing him as he had 25 points on 5-of-13 shots and 15-of-18 free throws on 12 fouls drawn to go with 13 rebounds. He will be a must-see on Day Two.

Bai Haotian, who last year was at the Jordan Brand Classic and earlier this year was at the BWB camp in Toronto, showed his all-around game with 11 points, six rebounds and seven assists. But China turned the ball over 26 times as they try to get used to the level.

At the other end, Davide Moretti and Lorenzo Bucarelli combined for 40 points on 34 shots while playmaking ace Alessandro Pajola collected eight points, eight assists and five steals with just one turnover. Pajola was on the All-Tournament Team at the ANGT Rome.

 

Germany romped past Japan 89-59

This game was a blowout from the beginning as Germany was just way too long – and talented for Japan.

The Germans are stacked and really must be considered as one of the top favorites for the title at this summer’s U18 European Championship.

Unfortunately I still have never seen Isaac Bonga play live as he missed the game with a thigh injury.

In kind of a return home, the Heidelberg native Richard Freudenberg showed his all-around game with 18 points – including 2-of-3 threes – 10 rebounds and one listed block – I see listed because he had at least one more.

Oscar Leon da Silva was outstanding with his versatile game, hitting his only three attempt, throwing down big dunks and getting two blocks. He is so multi-faceted and a real joy to watch.

Kostja Mushidi has definitely bulked up in Strasbourg but still has a really nice game – flashing a little bit of everything, including some excellent defense.

The low-post duo of Lars Lagerpusch and Moritz Sanders combined for 28 points on 10-of-12 field goals but just 7-of-16 free throws to go with 12 rebounds.

Nelson Weidemann really worked hard on the defensive end but really didn’t affect the game much offensively.

Philipp Herkenhoff desperately needs to add some bulk on his slender frame, which will help him at both ends to live up to his potential while Louis Olinde seemed to be playing a bit out of control on offense and Ferdinand Zykla was just his steady self at both ends.

Japan were out-manned from the beginning. But they kept playing tough and have a couple of interesting players who could play at a high level in Asia.

Yudai Nishida is clearly their best player on this team and is considered the shooting guard of the future for Japan. He struggled with the length of the Germans, hitting 5-of-13 shots for 14 points. But he showed that he did belong on the court with the talents from Germany.

Kai Toews is a feisty point guard who is playing at a prep school in the United States and has some game in him. And Keisuke Mimori showed he has some good shot blocking ability from the wing position.

Maybe the revelation for Japan at this tournament will be Avi Schefer, who is Japan’s tallest player and has only been playing the game for one year since coming over to basketball from soccer. He picked up two fouls in the first 30 seconds of the game against the efficient German low post players and was never a factor. But he will be interesting to watch the rest of the tournament.

One thing that must be said, this Japanese team would definitely be different if Rui Hachimura were here.

 

France beat United States 80-78

The final game over in Viernheim, again didn’t have a chance to watch it.

France have an interesting group with Bathiste Tchouaffe, Jaylen Hoard and Ivan Fevrier. But I am really looking forward to seeing this team play.

Don’t really know much about the United States team but Alani Moore flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.

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