Matur Maker and Makur Maker played well at a recent club competition in France.

Toronto (heinnews) – Matur Maker and his cousin Makur Maker recently played at a tournament in France and passed the test against European clubs with flying colors, according to their guardian/advisor/coach Ed Smith.

The Makers were part of the Toronto Basketball Academy team that went to the Cholet Mondial Basketball tournament in Cholet, France from April 14-17. The annual event featured 12 teams from six different countries – Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany and Italy.

The Makers’ teammates on the squad were Rahsaan Chambers, Adham Eleeda, Kahleel Ellis-Garcia, Amir Gholizadeh, Scott Hitchon, Jamal Mayali, Jimmy Rich, Zubair Seyed and Carl Veltmann. And the team went 2-3 in the five games, despite having hardly no practice time together since the Makers had been competing in the BioSteel All-Canadian Game just days before the tournament in France started.

Matur Maker averaged 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 0.8 blocks while shooting 35 percent from the field. Makur Maker collected 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.8 steals and hit 38 percent from the field.

“My thoughts were that the team would be well coached (by Canadian U19 national team coach Roy Rana) and that it would be an opportunity for Matur and Makur to be exposed to European style of play and FIBA referees,” Smith said.

Smith looking to gauge several factors in Makers

Smith wanted to use the tournament to gauge several factors in the Makers.

“Offensively I wanted to evaluate both players’ ability to adjust and play in such a setting and how much success they would have,” Smith said. “For Matur, being a big perimeter player I wanted to evaluate his effectiveness getting to the basket, drawing fouls, making plays for himself and making plays for others. As for Makur, I really at this stage needed to see his competitiveness through fatigue, his athletic effectiveness, and his basketball IQ.”

Regarding defense, Smith said: “On the defensive end for both players I was evaluating their ability to guard multiple actions, give multiple efforts and close out defensive possessions.”

Smith said Matur, who was born on January 1, 1998, surprised him with his performance in Cholet.

“I was very surprised at how easily Matur got to the basket against both bigs and guards and finished through contact or drew the foul. I truly believe the referees began to swallow their whistle as the game would progress because of the level of his effectiveness. Teams began to cushion his drive and I felt that an area to continue to work on is the 17-foot catch-and-shoot or jab-and-shoot and the pull up off the bounce.

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“Defensively Matur was a demon. He would have led the entire tournament in deflections and maybe top three in steals at his position. His ability to guard the perimeter at 6’9″ and a 7’2″ wingspan is tremendous. I feel the same situation where Thon (Maker) was undervalued by draft experts through last year but has been a pleasant surprise, will apply to Matur.”

Smith also said Matur is understanding how to take advantage of situations.

“Matur understood that he has a tremendous advantage with his advance ball handling skill over other similar players his size, and his ability to blow by his defenders necessitates that he now makes good read on defensive rotations in order to make plays for himself and others,” the coach said. “Defensively his ability to guard (both guards and the small forward) with his size and length, Matur understands that will earn him playing time at the next level earlier than his offensive ability.”

Is Europe next for Matur?

There has been talk that Smith may send Matur to play professionally in Europe instead of going to college in the United States. He addressed that contemplation briefly as well.

“I realize that playing in Europe, talent wise, Matur would excel. Finding the right coach, adjusting to the playing style, the language barrier, the strength and conditioning, and being away from family and friends are important variables to consider,” Smith said.

Smith exited about future with 2000-born Makur

In regards to Makur, Smith was very pleased with the young Makur, who was born on November 4, 2000 and thereby nearly three years younger than the rest of the competition.

Smith said he is really looking forward to continuing his work with Makur, who was named co-MVP of the BioSteel All Futures Game.

“Makur has just begun but I am so excited to see what he has become as our work together progresses. He is a legitimate 6’10” 217lb with good shoulders and a solid base. He is an A1 elite athlete vertically, horizontally, and end to end. He has tremendous instincts and surprised me with his reads as a passer on the offensive end,” Smith said. “Offensively we are at the beginning of his development but at our level he will easily score the ball because of his natural gifts. His defensive potential to guard the pick and roll, contain guards, and protect the rim has only scratched the surface. He will learn to compete on every possession and compete for rebounds as he matures.”

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Smith continued: “Makur understands that he is talented but he has to stay engaged on each possesion. This is typical for a player of his experience but from an athletic standpoint and a feel perspective, his future is extremely bright.”

Smith said it’s “scary” to consider Makur’s athletic package even though he hasn’t started lifting weights yet. He said Makur should easily be able to carry 240 pounds and not lose his athleticism.

Makur better than Thon or Matur?

Smith also described some of the talk at the BioSteel Futures Game  regarding Makur’s future.

“There were whispers that this might be better than Thon and Matur down the line. In order to get into that conversation, Makur will have to play every possession with passion,” he said.

“I’m excited to be developing Makur. Once he masters his low post and mid post packages that I will present him, he will easily be a 25 & 10 guy down the line. His approach to the work is outstanding and he is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be great.”

If there is a “vital need for their talents”, Makers will play for Australia

None of the trio of Thon, Matur or Makur have played national team basketball yet. All three were born in Sudan and could in theory play for Sudan or South Sudan. But Smith said Australia is the much more likely option.

“Thon, Matur, and Makur are Australian citizens and will therefore play for Australia,” Smith said. “Thon has been in Australia since he was 6, Matur since he was 5, and Makur since he was 9 months old. I feel that if Australia has a vital need for their talents, they will play for Australia.”

Regarding Sudan or South Sudan, Smith added: “I have heard that Sudan is developing a national team but I believe that the Sudanese who are Australian citizens will make their decisions based on whether there is a viable chance to play and contribute to the success of the national team.”

Matur Maker missed a chance to play at the FIBA U18 Oceania Championship 2016 last December, when New Zealand beat Australia to qualify for this summer’s FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup – leaving Australia on the outside looking in at the U19 spectacle for the first time in history.

With Makur Maker being born in 2000, there is the FIBA U17 Oceania Championship this year from which the top two teams qualify for next year’s FIBA U18 Asia Championship. It would take a miracle for anyone in Oceania to beat either Australia or New Zealand to make the U18 Asia competition. The top four teams from the FIBA U18 Asia Championship 2018 will reach the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2019 – meaning Makur could play for Australia in either the continental or world competition. But that remains to be seen.



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