So, we have reached the quarterfinals here at the U20 European Championship in Rhodes. Three more days of action and then it’s back home to rest and relaxation. And there are some great match-ups today – Spain-Turkey, France-Montenegro, Croatia-Greece and Lithuania-Italy. The finger on the pulse of the tournament has Donatas Motiejunas saying he will not play U20s next summer; USC adds another European big man and Dirk Bauermann tells his young senior national team candidates to man up.

heinnews’s David Hein sat down on the off day at the U20s with Lithuanian star center Donatas Motiejunas on behalf of fibaeurope.com for a video interview. A portion of the interview is available here. The full interview will be heinnews in the near future. 

Here a sampling of the interview:

Comparing the level of competition at the U19 World Championship in New Zealand to the U20 European Championship, he said: “I mean there was the world championship and here is the European Championship and this is 10 times better.”

Motiejunas admitted he is struggling massively in Greece on offense but happy that his defense is there: “Six or seven points are not a score for me. I’m really disappointed with my play on offense right now. On defense I’m really glad that I’m helping the guys.”

When asked about the NBA – for whom he is currently projected as the number three pick in the 2010 draft – he said not with the lack of muscles he has right now. “There are some monsters in Europe. In the NBA the guys are giants.”

He also issued a warning to the rest of the competition here in Greece.

“It’s no secret that we came here for gold. But if we want to take it – the gold, we have to do everything. We are ready. So everybody has to (be) scared of us because we have (such) a good team. Man, in 10 years maybe there will be another team like this for Lithuania. I just want to say beware of us because we have so big power that if we play how we can play that nobody can stop us.”

And then Motiejunas dropped this bombshell:

“I was thinking about next year and right now I’ve decided that I will not play for my (junior) national team. It’s my position. I haven’t told anyone so far.  I’m not going to play for sure. I’m a man of my word. And I give you my word that I’m not going to play. If they call me for the senior team I’m going to go to the senior team. But for my years I’m not going to play for sure.”

This one is bound to go down great in Lithuania.

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Vucevic to get European company at USC

Looks like USC will be getting another European big man on campus for this season. USC coach Kevin O’Neill was in Greece on the first off-day of the competition to talk to his returning sophomore Nikola Vucevic – who cannot wait to get back to L.A. for the chance to play and show the Trojan fans how versatile his game is. And guys with USC gear were seen talking to Latvian big man Davis Rozitis during the first couple of days of the event.

heinnews’s David Hein went up to the 6-foot-11 Davis and asked him if he was heading to USC next season. His response: “Yeah, I’ve never been there. But I’m looking forward to it.” When asked if he has talked to Nikola Vucevic in Rhodes, he said: “Yeah, he’s a nice guy. It should be fun to play with him.”

Teaming Rozitis and Vucevic in the post, O’Neill has plenty of options. And Trojan fans will get a first hand glimpse of the quality level of European players. 

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Bauermann to U20s heading to Germany senior team camp: Man up!

Talking to German wing Philip Schwethelm – who along with Tibor Pleiss are free agents after the insolvency of the Köln 99ers – it appears that the German U20 team got a butt-whipping over messages by senior national team coach Dirk Bauermann. 

At least that was the case for the five U20 players that Bauermann invited to the 21-man senior team training camp, which starts later this month in Leverkusen. Schwethelm is one of them along with Robin Benzing, Bastian Doreth, Elias Harris and Pleiss. 

In a teaser of the up-coming full interview to come soon on heinnews, Schwethelm said Bauermann contacted him and the other four senior national team candidates after the team lost to Slovenia in the classification round, meaning essentially that Henrik Rodl’s team must beat Israel to remain in Division A with a team that had decent chances of competing for a medal. 

“He said we need to stop dreaming of a medal. We were not ready to get forget about the medals against Slovenia. He sent us like five messages. He said thinking about the last games is something for losers and crying is something for losers. We need to start working to stay in Division A. We are still a great team and need to forget about it”

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No neck to stay on the wing

Watching the Croatia-Turkey game on Wednesday with a couple of NBA scouts, one of them came up a wonderful assessment on why Croatian forward Antonio Ostric (sorry for not having a better picture) appears to have no neck. The scout: “If he keeps his head down then he’s only 6-foot-7. Otherwise he would be 6-foot-9 and would have to play in the post.”

Ah, the joy of watching basketball and not having to write. It’s so much fun. Should try it more often.

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Pink slip for Greece

Seeing Georgios Bogris today in the hotel, he came up to heinnews and said: “Today is a pink day for Greece.” 

A bit confused, he was asked: What do you mean, pink day?

“You know the official scorecard, the winners get the pink copy and losers get the yellow. We are going to be the pink one today. Bet on it.”

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