Ferdinand Zylka (white #10) goes at the Turkish defense in Germany's big victory on Day Three of the AST - Photo DBB

Ferdinand Zylka (white #10) goes at the Turkish defense in Germany’s big victory on Day Three of the AST – Photo DBB

 

Day Three and I was back in Mannheim to see action in Group A while following the Group B games through just stats.

Through three days, both groups have two undefeated teams – Germany and Serbia in Group A and Italy and France in Group B. Both groups also have three 1-2 teams and one team eliminated from the semi-finals with 0-3 records (Japan and Egypt).

After an open day on Tuesday, Serbia and Germany face off on Wednesday in the game which will most likely decide first and second place in Group A. France and Italy will play China and Egypt respectively hoping to remain undefeated to set up the match-up of the two teams on Thursday to decide Group B supremacy.

 

Here a look back at Day Three’s action.

Serbia beat Japan 87-62

Serbia continue to roll at the AST with a dominant victory over Japan. The Serbs out-rebounded Japan 52-22 and scored 54 points in the paint to 24 for Japan.

Another great game for the efficient Stefan Djordjevic with 17 points on 8-of-9 field goals to go with 13 rebounds, two assists and two blocks without a turnover in 25 minutes.

There were a couple of noteworthy elements to the game for Serbia. First off, the point guard situation is still clear as Novak Music was less than convincing as he really is more of a two guard than main playmaker. I wonder if Aleksa Uskokovic has the size to get the job done and am not sure if Stefan Momirov can handle the spot at this time.

Coach Milan Gurovic for a time in the second half had Aleksa Radanov take over the point guard duties. It didn’t have a lot of success but it might be a real option for the Serbs come this summer’s U18 European Championship.

Radanov once again was impressive with 14 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. He also really played some hard-nosed defense for some longer stretches.

Milos Glisic didn’t play in the first half but still totalled 14 points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes – showing his effectiveness in the paint.

Aleksa Stepanovic, one of the revelations from the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Belgrade, finally was given a bit more burn, picking up three points on 1-of-4 shots, five rebounds and two assists in 11 minutes. He was called on to play in the post more though he really is more effective playing from the wing with his driving ability.

Japan meanwhile looked much better and organized and concentrated than the first game. Obviously the size difference was too much to handle and really stay in the game.

Yudai Nishida did a good job from the outside, hitting 5-of-11 three-pointers in scoring 21 points while dishing out three assists (to zero turnovers) and picking up two steals. The 1999-born shooting guard is one of the top future stars for Japanese basketball.

The other player to shine was Avi Schefer, the son of an American father and Japanese mother who has only been playing basketball for about 1.5 years. Schefer looked more comfortable on the court against Serbian than in the first game against Germany – which was his first game at the international level at all. Listed at 2.03m, the 1998-born big man had a solid game with seven points on 3-of-3 from the field while picking up two rebounds, three steals and one big block. Schefer will likely be heading to the United States for college – though he told heinnews he may wait a year to improve his game and give more colleges a chance to see him in action. He’s an excellent athlete but still has a lot to work on – understandably since he’s only been at the game so briefly. It seems a lock that he will team with Nishida and Rui Hachimura at this summer’s FIBA Asia U18 Championship.

 

France beat Greece 68-59

The first game in Viernheim saw France remain undefeated with a back-and-forth victory after 11 lead changes and six ties.

Noticeable was that Adam Mokoka was back in the line-up after sitting out Day Two action with an ankle injury. Mokoka hit all five of his field goal attempts in scoring 14 points and drawing five fouls. Bathiste Tchouaffe went 3-of-10 from the field but had seven fouls drawn in scoring 14 points as well.

Abdoulaye Ndiaye had a great all-around game with 11 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

Also noteworthy was Jaylen Hoard not playing. He had eight points, five assists and two blocks in the first game and then six points and four rebounds in the second game.

On the Greece side, Michail Lountzis missed both of his field attempts but still scored 12 points on 12-of-14 free throws thanks to eight fouls drawn. But he did commit four of Greece’s 23 turnovers.

Dimitrios Kourepis came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points.

 

Argentina win 69-67 versus Australia

South America versus Oceania and Argentina prevailed in an exciting battle which saw 10 lead changes and eight ties.

Santiago Vaulet showed his leadership with 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks while Lisandro Fernandez really had a strong game with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, including four three-pointers.

The 1999-born Laureto Lopez continues to get more used to the level and did a decent job at point guard for Argentina. While 2000-born Francisco Caffaro had a nice move in the lane for his only two points.

The real treat of the game was the match-up of Vaulet and Australia’s top player Matthew Kenyon, who picked up 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. The 1998-born Kenyon is really a nice prospect with some good ball-handling skills as well as a great motor, a good drive to the rim and he’s now 4-of-6 from three-point range through three games.

Just like the rest of the team, Tom Fullarton looked a lot less passive than in the first game. He also contributed across the board with 11 points including two threes, two rebounds and three assists. The 1999 guard has a nice athletic frame and good height at 2.00m. It will be interesting to see how much better he gets at the tournament with more confidence.

Andrew Ferguson – the team’s 1998 big man – showed he has outside range, knocking down a three-pointer while grabbing four rebounds in 16 minutes.

The 2000-born big man Callum Dalton’s one basket was a long two-point jumper. The 2.04m center hit his only three-point attempt in Australia’s first game against Serbia.

With Australia trailing by two in the waning seconds, Kenyon was stuck in the corner while the 1999-born Kyle Zunic was determined to knot the game with a layup late. Zunic has struggled from the field throughout, hitting just 8-of-27 shots (29 percent) including 2-of-12 three-pointers (17 percent). It seems to me that most of the people in the crowd were expecting Kenyon to take the final shot – he has made 14-of-22 shots (64 percent) including 4-of-6 threes (67 percent).

 

China center talent Zhu Rongzhen (red middle) was just too much for Egypt - Photo DBB

China center talent Zhu Rongzhen (red middle) was just too much for Egypt – Photo DBB

China beat Egpyt 84-73

China picked up their first victory of the tournament thanks to another big performance by Zhu Rongzhen.

The Chinese big man – who struggled with foul trouble in the loss against the United States – made 11-of-14 shots in scoring 27 points while grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking three shots. And he got Egyptian veteran big man Seifeldin Elsanadily to foul out in just 15 minutes.

Bai Haotian had a nice all-around game with 17 points, six rebounds and three assists while the team’s diminutive point guard Xu Jie picked up 14 points (however making just 1-of-5 threes), five rebounds, three assists and four steals.

The game featured just two 1998-born players – both of them with Egypt. Besides Elsanadily, the other was Omar Farag, who played like he was more experienced with 23 points, three rebounds, three assists and seven steals.

But the 1999-born Tarek Raafat nailed four three-pointers in scoring 16 points and 2000 talent Youssef Abdrabou picked up six points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 23 minutes.

 

Germany race away from Turkey 80-56

Germany showed they have another gear in putting together a 26-2 run in the fourth quarter to blow the game wide open. Kostja Mushidi was the clear catalyst as he scored 14 points in a 3:23 minute stretch in the final quarter.

In front of a pretty loud and rowdy crowd, the game was tight throughout until Mushidi went off. The Strasbourg guard finished with 20 points after hitting 18 in the previous game.

I was expecting this to be a blowout, which it really wasn’t at all in the first 32 minutes of the game as Turkey really did a good job containing the Germans until Deutschland exploded.

Richard Freudenberg has been fantastic all tournament with 14 points and 13 rebounds for his third straight double-double – though he did only hit 3-of-12 shots, including 1-of-6 threes. He has really been great all tournament at pushing the ball after getting rebounds. All told he has 33 rebounds in 66:24 minutes of action – eight of which came on the offensive end. From the outside, Freudenberg has hit 5-of-13 three-pointers (38 percent).

Diminutive point guard Bennet Hundt was very solid again with 12 points and four assists not to mention was stifling defense on the opposing point guards.

Lars Lagerpusch was pretty effective inside with 10 points on 4-of-9 shots, including one three-pointer to go with five rebounds and two blocks. His game is very refined but you just wish he had another two or three inches of height.

Ferdinand Zykla only scored three points on 1-of-6 shooting but he really worked hard on the defensive end keeping Turkey star Onuralp Bitim under wraps.

Bitim has now missed all 13 three-pointers in his last two games and was held to two points in the first half before ending with nine. The 1999 talent really started to take over the game in the third quarter – also working hard to get under the skin of the Germans. He ended up hitting just 3-of-12 shots (with 0-of-5 from three-point range) to go with six rebounds.

The most effective player for Turkey was center Görkem Dogan, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds and really had a solid game. Dogan is not really a high level prospect but he showed he’s serviceable in the paint.

Ahmet Can Duran continued his subpar showing in Mannheim with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting and five rebounds in 23 minutes. The Turkish big man has hit just 9-of-30 shots (30 percent).

Turkey’s Alihan Deniz Genc showed some real flashes with 12 points on some tough shots to go with three rebounds, three assists and four steals.

Genc took over the main point guard duties for the game as Ömer Al had been called back to Turkey by Besiktas for the Turkish league game against Fenerbahce.

 

Italy romp US 82-57

The defending champions Italy took a major step towards the semi-finals by beating the United States by 25 points to remain perfect.

Isacco Lovisotto – an interesting power forward who can shoot from outside – showed his potential with 19 points including three three-pointers to go with seven rebounds. All told, Italy shot very well from long range, hitting 13-of-31 treys (42 percent) while the United States made just 4-of-14 (29 percent).

Italy also showed their strong guard play as the group of Davide Moretti (13/1/3/2), Lorenzo Bucarelli (13/6/4/0), Lorenzo Penna (13/2/5/0) and Alessandro Pajola (5/6/4/2) combined for 44 points, 15 rebounds, 16 assists and four steals.

The 1999 point guard Pajola has come up with an impressive 13-to-3 turnover ratio in 70 minutes over the three games thus far.

The Americans got 10 points each from Quinton Rose and Savion Flagg while Hameir Wright picked up nine points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

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