Here we go for the player portraits of the 2008 edition of the Città di Roma tournament. I will start with the guards where the talent level was particularly dense.
Mirza Sarajlija (1m86 – PG – 1991 – Olimpija Ljubljana)
Not that much to add to Sarajlija to what we know already. The Slovenian PG was of course above average for this level and he finished the tournament as top scorer. However, he could not help his team to qualify for the Nike International Junior Tournament in Berlin. He was the main target of the defenders and he was not helped by the referees either.
What I liked during the games I saw of him was that he did not force too much. Despite being nearly the only offensive weapon of his team, his shot selection was correct and he finished also with interesting percentages for a player of his type. On the other hand, coming back from Euroleague to play this tournament may have affected his defensive will as he was not very present and did not seem to be fully motivated to stop his opponents.
Stats: 24.3ppg (55.3% 2FG 35.48% 3FG), 3.5rpg, 2.0apg
Stefan Petkovic (1m82 – PG – 1992 – Benetton Fribourg)
Stefan Petkovic was one of the youngest players in Rome that saw important minutes. Being a member of the three-man offensive game of Fribourg, Petkovic was normally playing the PG position and had an important number of touches during the games. Unfortunately, he looks a bit limited in terms of size which will probably prevent him from making an nice international career.
First of all, Petkovic has a really nice looking shot which still may be a bit streaky but the range is there. He looks like knowing what’s going on on the court and seems to be pretty smart in what he does. He is not afraid to drive, even against the very big players and has a good eye for his open team mates, especially out of the pick-and-roll situations. He can come of the screens to go for the catch-and-shoot score and with his correct ball handling, he has the tools to develop into an interesting PG. He has to get a little bit more under control as he sometimes goes for too much 1-on-1 plays.
Stats: 19.3ppg (36.8% 2FG 31.4% 3FG 95%FT), 3.3rpg
Brian Savoy (1m86 – SG – 1992 – Benetton Fribourg)
The second option of the Swiss back-court was the Argentinean born Brian Savoy. Being a bit taller but skinnier than Petkovic, Savoy’s role was really the one of the scoring guard as he nearly ever had to bring up the ball. Additionally, Savoy looks like an interesting defender as he did a nice job during stretches on Mirza Sarajlija.
Offensively, Savoy is more of a shooter. He can hit the three ball with excellent percentages, especially when coming of the screens or getting the ball in the corner in a catch-and-shoot situation. He goes for some drives too but his main offensive threat remains the three point shot. He has a very quick release and has so not that much of a problem to shot over taller defenders.
Stats: 19.0ppg (41.9% 2FG 53.5% 3FG)
Alessandro Gentile (1m96 – G – 1992 – Benetton Treviso)
One of the most promising players of the tournament in my opinion is Alessandro Gentile. For whatever reason, he has been benched during one whole game so the analysis on him will not be that much of being complete but what I was able to see from him was very interesting.
He shows a very nice shooting touch and has a good 3pt range. He was the only player capable of giving adequate passes to the big man Deguara. Pretty tall for playing guard, Gentile shows also a good presence in rebounding. Being nicely built already, the Italian player can be present down low and showed his touch with a nice floater of his left hand.
Stats: 19.7ppg (60% 2FG 33.3% 3FG), 3.7rpg
Simone Centanni (1m85 – G – 1991 – Montepaschi Siena)
Here we have one of the best shooters of the tournament. Centanni was essentially present by making shots, big shots. The Italian guard, that has already seen some minutes with the professional team had one of the best shooting percentages of the whole tournament for guards. This is the result of nice execution and good shooting selection.
Centanni can create his own shot out of his drives where he can stop in the penetration and go for the mid-distance jump shot. Additionally, he has no problem to score on catch-and-shoot situations created by his team mates. He is not that present in the other compartments of the game but he is a very interesting scoring option in the back-court and should play an increased role in Siena in the future.
Stats: 17.3ppg (59.0% 2FG 50% 3FG)
Nunzio Sabbatino (1m90 – SG – 1992 – Montepaschi Siena)
Sabbatino is on the other hand a very different player than Centanni as he lives mainly from his spectacular drives. Sabbatino is a pure scorer who likes to use any kind of space the defense gives him to break the defense and go for the score. Sabbatino is no real threat from behind the arc as his shot is far from being reliable, at least from longer distances.
With his good speed and quick first step, he creates lots of problems for the defenses and he tries to go nearly every time until the rim to score. He connected also some difficult lay-ups but those can also fall out and his percentages will drop. If he gets defended hard on his drive, his limited shooting capabilities are hurting him. Additionally, being a penetration player and drawing a lot of fouls, he needs to improve his FT shooting to become more effective.
Stats: 16.5ppg (44.3% 2FG 1/4 3FG 50%FT)
Karolis Babkauskas (1m84 – PG – 1991 – Zalgiris Kaunas)
The Lithuanian PG had a pretty nice tournament as he did a good job in the scoring department. However, he could not manage to qualify his team for the event in Berlin. Being more of a scorer than a creator, Babkauskas is however very much under control and does not lose a lot of balls in the offense.
He can create out of the pick-and-roll situations where he can either go for his long-distance shot or for nice dishes to the big guy that came to set the screen. However, his shots were not falling on a regular basis as he sometimes tried to create too much of an open look instead of waiting for a good position for himself. Additionally, his shot is often in a bit in fade away style which may be a reason for this below average accuracy.
Stats: 16.5ppg (66.6% 2FG 39.3% 3FG), 3.3apg, 1.7topg
Vytenis Cizauskas (1m89 – G – 1992 – Zalgiris Kaunas)
The second member of the Lithuanian back-court was the 1992 born Vytenis Cizauskas. The Lithuanian guard has gained some weight which helps him to play in a stronger fashion but which may reduce his exclusivity a bit. However, he remains one of the most interesting players of the 1992 generation and it would not surprise me to see him move to PG spot in the future.
Cizauskas has a nice package of moves offensively. He can go for strong drives, he can hit the jump shot but also create for his team mates. Additionally, he looks always under control and with his excellent fundamentals and footwork, he can slip between defenders to go for unexpected moves. He controls the game and it was him that took over the ball in the crucial moments. However, he has currently not much of a three point shot, he only had 3 attempts from behind the arc. But his versatility helps him to overcome this deficit right now.
Stats: 14.5ppg (73% 2FG), 2.3rpg, 4.3apg, 3.0spg, 5.5topg
Oscar Alvarado (1m84 – PG – 1991 – Kalise Gran Canaria)
The Spanish PG has been named MVP of the tournament (without being in the All-Tournament team) which may have sounded like a huge surprise before the days in Rome. But Alvarado showed excellent maturity, basketball knowledge and control with the tournament winning team. Offensively, Alvarado has a nice shot which is however not falling with extreme percentages. However, he knows when to use it.
On the drive, he often goes for some tear drop shots or uses the defensive help to dish out nice passes. He had one very nice no-look dish to the corner for a wide open three point shot. His main force is however his leadership on the court. He was the boss on the court and controlled the tempo of the game perfectly. His upside though may be limited as he has neither outstanding qualities in terms of shooting, size or athleticism.
Stats: 15.5ppg (38.9% 2FG 36.8% 3FG), 3.3rpg, 3.5apg
Alejandro Jesus Lopez (1m89 – G – 1991 – Kalise Gran Canaria)
The speedy guard of Gran Canaria was the other driving force of the Spanish back court. More of a penetration player than a three point shooter, Lopez was the top scorer of Gran Canaria and earned a spot in the All-Tournament Team of the Città di Roma tournament. He lived also a lot from the focus of the defenses on Alvarado which opened spaces for Lopez on the drive.
Going of mostly his right hand, his good speed helps him to create open looks against any kind of defense. He can read the help and dish out some nice assists too but it is not a main part of his game. Additionally, he is very present in the defensive rebound and uses these possessions often to go immediately into fast break action.
Stats: 18.0ppg (47.5% 2FG 37.5% 3FG), 6.0rpg