When I started the website, I would have never imagined to what extend it had an impact on my life. In 2005, blogs were starting to emerge, but neither Twitter nor Facebook were around. I started to share my thoughts just for fun as I thought that there would be an interest in information about European basketball in English written by a European. It is hard to imagine right now but back then, that was an innovative concept, especially given that I was focusing on young players and not the main competitions. Discussions were mainly going on in message boards where some die-hard fans published bits and pieces on different local hopefuls. Except the major US websites, there was no central point where you could find information on European draft hopefuls.
It looked like my content attracted the attention of several people; right from the start I got in touch with a multitude of different individuals involved in a business that I had no idea about. Scouts, GMs, Agents,… I knew that these people existed but I was never in touch with anyone before but some very open-minded people started to email me to exchange not only contact details but real infos. This was a major motivation for me and I started to travel around to see players compete and meet these person in real life. The time consumed by the website grew especially as I started another project with Tobias and Julien who wanted to change the Internet world of European Basketball. Ballineurope.com was born and I stopped to count the hours that I spent in front of my PC next to my daily job and involvement in the local basketball scene as player and coach.
For different reasons, ballineurope.com was sold after a few years and my full concentration was back on europeanprospects.com. With the emergence of Twitter but also a growing number of websites that covered the same topics, I had to intensify my work in order to remain a top-class address for scouting reports. I started to question myself if this can develop into a full time job and possibilities to fully get into the “business” emerged. I started a NCAA approved Recruiting Service that helped me to finance the growing expenses for travel while still running the site fully on my own, both for the content and the technical aspect. The connections grew accordingly and the workload as well. I decided though to keep europeanprospects.com as a free-time activity in order to remain independent and be able to write whatever I think was correct and not be driven by some outside motivations.
However, there have been some events in my life that changed my view on things and the time I could spend on the road and in front of my PC reduced. I had the feeling that I was not as aware as I wanted to be on all the emerging players which put a lot of mental pressure on me as I wanted always to have top-notch and exclusive content. The multitude of people that spread news and scouting reports made me think about the necessity of my website though as information that was nearly not available at all 10 years ago can now be found in abundance. A second happy event this year then brought me to the decision to put the website on hold as I barely have any time anymore to produce content. Even if I could travel to Italy this summer to cover the U20 European Championship, I still could not finish the Scouting Reports two months after the event which is a clear sign that it does not make sense to continue the same way.
By putting the website on hold, I avoid to say that I stop europeanprospects.com. I might publish some articles when I find the time to write in the future, while I will also continue to post on Twitter, even with a probably slower frequency. I have to stop though the NCAA approved Scouting service that I already launched for the season 2015-16 and all the clients that have paid will be reimbursed and contacted directly. It is simply impossible for me to offer the service in a way that I would consider as worthy to pay for and that’s why I will not continue it despite a growing demand.
It has been a crazy ride the last 10 years. Lots of great trips to places I would have never seen without basketball. I now have connections; for some of them, I can even call them friends (not in a Facebook sense); from around the world, people I would have never met without the Internet. I will certainly miss long nights of discussions about who is the most talented left-handed stretch four coming out of Latvia (is there anyone?), who will be the next Dirk, Pau or even Pavel, or what is the best seat at La Ghirada or the quality of the WLan in the arena. Or answering classical questions like “Who is going to win?” and think about what is the best way to avoid rip-off taxis or enjoy the best local (or Armenian) food. In all those years, I really liked the great help I got from so many people (unfortunately not from everyone involved in European Basketball for whatever reason) in the different countries that tried to support me in any way they could. I want to say THANK YOU ALL.
I don’t know if I will ever find my way back to Basketland, La Ghirada, l’Hospitalet or even Kaunas. I will certainly still be available to talk basketball and prospects to anyone who wants to but my presence at the different events will be minimal. I hope I could spread some interesting information about European Prospects over the last ten years and who knows what will come in the future.
THANK YOU – MERCI – DANKE – HVALA – ACIU – PALDIES – GRAZIE – GRACIAS – TAK – SPASSIBO
Paul Zipser – SF – 2m01 – 1994 – Bayern München
After having made the step to become a Senior National player, the upcoming season has to be the one of the definitive outbreak of Paul Zipser. The athletic forward will be automatically eligible for the NBA Draft and he should be able to fill the hole in the rotation at Bayern that is left after the departure of Robin Benzing. With his slashing style and rebounding skills, Zipser should be an important part of the Bayern offense and defense and the experience of the Euroleague will certainly help him to develop over the season. Zipser can be an interesting player for the 2nd round in 2016 but a lot will depend on his playing time with Bayern and his health. The question though is how quickly he can move into a leadership role with the German top team as he has all the tools to become one of the best German forward this season.
Joschka Ferner – SF – 2m03 – 1996 – ratiopharm Ulm
One of the surprises of the pre-season is Joschka Ferner who saw a lot of minutes for ratiopharm Ulm. But he did not only get those minutes, he was also very productive which is promising for the upcoming season. The wing has great size for the Small Forward position and is a good three-point shooter. Additionally, he has some ball handling skills from his younger days and he earned already a bit of experience through some sporadic minutes on the court last season. Right now, it looks like Ferner can become a regular contributor for Ulm already this season and it would not be a surprise to see him earn 10-15 minutes per game as he is the only backup on the SF spot for the team of coach Thorsten Leibenath.
Ismet Akpinar – PG – 1m90 – 1995 – ALBA Berlin
A lot of people expect Ismet Akpinar finally breaking out after a great career in the youth ranks. The scoring guard who left Hamburg a few years ago to find success in Berlin has so far not made regular appearances with ALBA but this season might become the first one where he has a real role. After playing well during the pre-season, Akpinar has put some pressure on the coaching staff to put him on the court and use his scoring and quickness. Additionally, Akpinar has never been someone who is afraid of responsibilities and playing in the Eurocup will certainly be a great experience for him. He has to learn though how to run a team of pros where he is not the first option on offense but this should be something that comes with growing experience.
Niklas Geske – PG – 1m88 – 1994 – Phoenix Hagen
After taking over the Starting PG role for Hagen during last season, there are a lot of expectations on Niklas Geske to confirm his great progress made over the last 12 months. He won the Silver Medal at the Universiade during the summer and should have a higher spot in the hierarchy within his team right now. Geske is one of the better German Pick and Roll players and with an improving shot; he is also a scoring threat on this level already. He needs though to get physically stronger if he wants to make the next step and become a contributor for a Playoff team in the next years. For a country that lacked PGs for the highest European level for a long time, Geske might develop into an option for the Senior Nationale in the next years.
Mahir Agva – PF/C – 2m06 – 1996 – Walter Tigers Tübingen
After playing in the second league already for quite some time, Mahir Agva made the move to Tübingen during last season. Now, he is ready to attack his first full season with the Tigers and he should quickly impose himself in the paint for the team of coach Igor Perovic. Gifted with great feet and a correct touch, Agva mainly lives from his physical presence that helps him to get good positions in the paint. Lacking elite athleticism, Agva plays a lot with his smartness and understanding of the game. He needs though to become a better defender against more athletic big men as he lacks the necessary speed to stay in front of players who attack him face-to-face. Still quite young, it will be interesting to see how far he can go as physically, his development seems to be quite mature already.
He will not play in the Bundesliga but there will be a lot of eyes following Isaiah Hartenstein in his first season on the ProB level. It will also be his last one as he will move to Zalgiris Kaunas next season. The left handed power forward should be one of the better German players on that level already and matching up with veterans and other pros will certainly help his development after dominating in the different youth categories. Additionally, having Dragan Dojcin as a coach with the Artland Dragons is a additional plus as the Serbian knows all the tricks to play on the highest level and he can teach the youngster at least some of them in order to impose himself over the next years.
Belgium – Czech Republic 81 – 96
Belgium started red-hot into the game with a 10-0 run after only 90 seconds. But the Czechs aswered with Martin Peterka finding good positions in the paint multiple times so that they tied the score at 16 in a high-speed game. David Skranc showed some promising things for the Czechs and they could even create a lead on their own to be up 26-19 after the first ten minutes. The second quarter was then again in favor of the Belgian Lions where Manu Lecomte went for 13 points to give his team a 45-42 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was again fully in favor of the Czech Republic as Adam Pechacek showed his skill set and the Belgians were too dependant on Lecomte on offense. The lead for the Czechs grew to double digits before the last ten minutes. But this time, there was no more lead change as the Czechs managed to keep their advantage until the end of the game.
MVP: Radovan Kouril 10pts, 7rebs, 7asts
Lithuania – Latvia 80 – 82
It was not a good start for the Lithuanians as Domantas Sabonis was quickly called for two fouls while Rolands Smits was doing a bit of everything for the Latvians. After 6 minutes, Lithuania took a first time out as they were trailing 10-17. Following the short break, Lithuania found better into the game and Paulius Valinskas scored 8 points to tie the score before Kristaps Gluditis had a last drive on the buzzer to keep Latvia up after ten minutes. Sabonis was back on the court and he helped his team to come back on the score around the five minute mark. Lithuania even generated a nice lead with Sabonis hitting shots around the key and Latvia stayed in their 2-3 zone defense. Kristaps Gluditis reduced the score a bit so that at halftime, Lithuania was up 42-38.
The third quarter remained balanced as nobody gave up the possibility to qualify for the game for the fifth place. Both teams showed a good team effort without anyone really standing out. Therefore the score was 53-52 in favor of the team mates of Sabonis before the last ten minutes. Gluditis had a good phase that gave Latvia the lead back quickly while Smits was cleaning the boards. Latvia moved ahead by four points 5 minutes before the end as they managed to keep Sabonis defensively. The Gonzaga big had his fifth foul called and Gluditis added another triple but the game was not over as Zydrunas Jurgitis answered from behind the arc and Valinskas gave his team a 1pt lead with 38 seconds on the clock. Davis Geks scored the runner and Lithania failed to score but Gluditis could only make 1 free-throw. Valinskas was the go-to-guy and scored a tough step back mid-range jumper to tie the score at 70 with 7 seconds to go. Gluditis missed the three and the tipin did not fall either. Overtime.
Gluditis took the lead for Latvia but the Lithuanians wanted the win as well. Edvinas Seskus answered on the backdoor and the score remained balanced throughout the five minutes. Davis Geks though gave Latvia a 3 point lead on two offensive rebounds so that Lithuania had the last offense with 13 seconds on the clock. Sajus scored twice from the line while Paze only had 1 but the last shot by the Lithuanians for the win was missed by Kubilius.
MVP: Kristaps Gluditis 22pts (8/18 FGs)
Spain – France 70 – 61
Spain started well into the game with threes from Alberto Abalde and Alberto Martin while Ilimane Diop contested the french domination above the rim. Guerschon Yabusele then opened the field goal account for the French on a nice threepointer to bring the score to 8-4 after 5 minutes. But the French offense struggled staying with a single field goal for several minutes so that Spain slowly created a lead. Juancho Hernangomez scored some nice baskets but Arthur Rozenfeld kept France in the game with two big drives to the hoop to bring the score to 15-10 at the first break.
France continued to struggle offensively at the beginning of the second quarter so that their coach had to take a first timeout after 2 minutes at the score of 19-12 for Spain. It did not help as Hernangomez scored another one with the foul. Spain opted for a zone offense that France was unable to attack and a second timeout was needed with 5 minutes on the clock and a 15 points difference. France had a small run behind Alpha Kaba’s presence in the paint so that Span took their first timeout with 3 and half minutes to play. France was in the game now and Kaba added another one on a nice low post move. The French team was now in full confidence mode and scored several baskets in a row to cut the difference to only 5 points at the halftime.
Spain came again red hot out of the break and scored a quick 5-0 run by Abalde. France seemed asleep again and Diop scored a nice one on the break to give his team a 44-31 lead 3 minutes into the half. Rozenfeld kept France in the game from the corner but neither Yabusele nor Petr Cornelie created on offense against the long Spanish lineup with Diop, Hernangomez and Jose Nogues at SF. Timothe Luwawu thought he had made a big one with the foul but it was an offensive foul that was called on him. Lucas Dussoulier though knocked down a tough three to brought the difference back to 10. Diop made his fourth foul just before the last break but Yabusele made a stupid one 1 second before the horn that Spain used to be up by 9.
France started the last quarter with a good defensive sequence but their offense remained poor. Spain used this to get back to a double-digit lead on a nice three-pointer by Nogues. Cornelie remained without any touch on offense on multiple put backs but Luwawu kept the difference in the double territory on a hard drive to the basket. Rozenfeld showed the way with another triple and France was back at –6 with 5 minutes on the clock. He even reduced it to 4 from the line but was called for an unsportsmenlike on the same play. Spain was struggling now, and Yabusele scored the tough one on the break to bring the score to 61-58. But Diop and Hernangomez gave Spain a little air in the sticky arena while Rozenfeld tried everything to keep the hope for the final alive. But they could not come back in winning distance looking probably for the wrong options on offense. Luwawu did not get the roll on a desperation drive so that Spain sealed the deal from the FT line to advance to the Final.
MVP: Alberto Abalde 18pts, 3rebs, 3stls
Serbia – Turkey 81 – 58
The game started quite balanced with both teams playing hard on defense. Serbia looked more present though as Turkey had to hustle hard and made their shots on the 24s buzzer only. This gave them some confidence though and they created a first small lead at 11-8 after 6 minutes. Emircan Kosut continued to make his shots from around the key and the Turks increased their small advantage slowly towards the end of the quarter. But Nikola Rebic and Ognjen Jaramaz had other ideas and made two threes that reduced the score to 17-16 in favor of Turkey.
Serbia had the small momentum and went ahead 20-17 three minutes into the period. It was not a very attractive game at that moment but Serbia controlled the pace and slowly increased their lead because of their higher pressure on defense. Marko Guduric and Marko Tejic increased the score to 28-17 as the Turks remained scoreless for minutes. This draught lasted for minutes but the Serbs had then a double-digit lead. Rebic showed his passing skills on the drive when Kartal Özmizrak finally made the first field goals for his team. But the Serbian advantage remained alive so that the halftime score was 37-25 in favor of the Serbs.
The two teams came out “hot” from the lockers as there were some small exchanges between the players that made the referees intervene to calm down. Serbia stayed cool and kept their lead during the beginning of the period behind two triples of Guduric. The difference was made but the Turks were still hopeful after an +1 play by James Birsen. But Serbia did not give them any chance to come back as Dejan Davidovac knocked down the triple from the corner. Serbia was up 56-38 before the last ten minutes and everything looked said and done.
Turkey threw in everything they had in the beginning of the last quarter but Jaramaz ontinued his festival of shot creation while the Turks got called for some hard fouls. They could come back to –14 but the Serbs prevailed their advantage thanks to Rebic, Guduric and Jaramaz doing the job.
MVP: Marko Guduric 21pts (4/6 3FGs), 3rebs, 5asts, 5stls, 1blk
Philipp Herkenhoff – 2m02 – SF – 1999 – Artland Dragons
Herkenhoff was clearly the most talented prospect in the JBBL Top4. Gifted with great size and ball handling skills, the forward from the Artland Dragons can do a bit of everything on this level and was able to dominate the game during stretches. What was interesting to see was that Herkenhoff was not used purely as an inside player but often handled the ball both in transition and in the set offense. Even if you could see that he is still in the learning process in order to understand what he can do with the ball, the 2m02 tall prospect showed an impressive all-around game. From boxing out on the defensive end to pushing the ball from coast-2-coast, dishing out good passes both in the fast break and in the set offense, playing with his back to the basket to handling the ball in Pick-and-Roll situations, Herkenhoff looks like one of the best talents in Europe in his generation.
Herkenhoff has a great base of fundamentals, the full set of a modern wing player. He can take the three-point shot out of the dribble, attack the close out with either hand and finish inside with contact, even though he had no physical match-up in this event. His athletic abilities are good for a player of this age and he might even have two-three centimeters left in his growing. It will be interesting to see how he can handle the new situation to play next season on the ProA level with Vechta as he has the potential to develop into a really good prospects over the next years.
Thorben Döding – 1m79 – PG – 1999 – Artland Dragons
Next to Herkenhoff, there was Thorben Döding who was running the PG position for the Dragons. The guard, who is certainly taller than the listed 1m79, has a great feel for the game and reads the defense really well. He has a nice court-view and is an excellent passer out of Pick and Roll situations and he can also come up with the highlight-no-look pass here and there. Döding uses his long arms to create good angles for his inside passes and with his hesitation dribbles, he creates the necessary space on a regular basis in order to attack the basket. He can finish at the rim with either hand but he needs to get physically stronger in order to make the next step. Döding can score from outside but his jump shot out of the dribble is a bit slow in the release. When he receives the ball in catch and shoot situations, the execution is faster though and also more reliable. Döding is certainly a player who will make his way up the ranks over the next years because of his understanding of the game and interesting physical profile.
Nicolas Wolf – 1m90 – SF – 1999 – TSV Tröster Breitengüssbach
Wolf is a physically already well developed wing player with a nice wingspan who has showcased some great scoring skills. Capable of playing inside and outside on this level because of his physical strength, Wolf is an outside player for the next level. He has great shooting skills and can knock down the three-point shot easily both in catch and shoot situations and out of the dribble. He attacks the close-outs really well and can go all the way to the hoop but he probably lacks the athletic abilities to go hard to the rim against taller or physically stronger players. The 99 born prospect can also score from the mid-range territory with the floater but struggles to make the jumper against the defense as he has only very little elevation on his shot. His touch is great though and he can also find the net out of difficult angles or after a spin move for example. Because of his strength and length, he likes to post up as well here and there but he was not very successful against the Dragons who could match his with size.
Vladimir Pinchuk – 2m03 – PF – 1999 – Phoenix Hagen
The big and mobile Vladimir Pinchuk was a key player for Hagen but he could not dominate as he did during the regular season. The 2m03 tall forward showed that he can attack the basket from outside and handle the ball against defense. As he is not a real threat from outside (yet), Pinchuk is though easily to guard when he is playing around the three-point line. His jump shot from around the key is not falling on a regular basis either. In the paint, he can use his size to score against smaller players but has a good technical package that allows him to finish also on the finesse move. He fights really hard on the glass and is a very good offensive rebounder as he finds the right positions quite well. It will be interesting to see what is next for Pinchuk as he might grow a few additional centimeters and with a more regular shot from outside, he can develop into a good stretch four prospect in the future.
Jasper Günther – 1m76 – PG – 1999 – Phoenix Hagen
The younger brother of Per Günther was the key driver in the Hagen backcourt. Limited by his size but gifted with great speed, Günther constantly attacked the basket but had to score from the mid-range territory on floaters or jumpers because of his 1m76. More a scorer than a creator, Günther excelled in seeing the gaps on defense in order to create some danger. The tiny guard needs though to become more reliable from behind the arc as he accumulated a poor shooting percentage over the season. This is the biggest question mark on his future together with his size but his brother showed already that a lot can be done with hard work.
Mateo Seric – 1m99 – PF – 1999 – Ludwigsburg
Mateo Seric was the main inside option for the Top4 winners from Ludwigsburg. An aggressive player who is though mainly operating on the floor, Seric has not high level athletic abilities or explosiveness but he has a good arsenal of fakes to create the necessary space for his shot attempts. Mainly used as a low post threat, where he can score in various ways, Seric was also one of the anchors on defense for the team from Ludwigsburg. He has also a nice court-vision and is a good passer so that he can find his team mates well on the cuts. He looks to develop into a player who wants the ball in the key moments and is not afraid to make the big shots.
Lawrence Mugagan – 1m90 – SF/PF – 1999 – Ludwigsburg
A superb athlete for this level, Lawrence Mugagan showed though that he is than just a jumping freak with long arms. Mugagan can score with the jump shot from mid range both in catch and shoot situations and out of the dribble. His ball handling is good enough to create an open shot on this level but he clearly needs to develop a more all-around game for the future as he is limited in size to play the forward spot. On the defensive end, Mugagan is an impressive shot blocker with great timing and his length helps him to be very present in the passing lanes as well. It will be interesting to see how he develops over the next years and if he is able to get a more reliable outside threat in order to be capable to play as a SG for example. With his athletic abilities, he would be a very interesting prospect in that case.
Quirin Emanga – 1m90 – SF – 2000 – Ludwigsburg
A year younger than the competition, Quirin Emanga was another interesting long term prospect for Ludwigsburg. Also used as an inside player, Emanga showed some nice touch on the jump hook scoring it against taller players in the post. He can also face-up his defender and attack him with a nice first step. Not sure how much he will grow still but the 1m90 tall Emanga has another year of JBBL in his immediate future and that will tell a bit more into what kind of prospect he can develop.
Fekremariam Abraha – 1m94 – PG – 1999 – Ludwigsburg
The head of the Ludwigsburg offense was the tall PG Fekremariam Abraha. Long with good handles and a nice court vision, Abraha constantly attacked the basket and could either find his team mates on open spots or finish himself at the rim with either hand. The 1m94 tall guard has good speed but he needs to improve his shooting which is quite poor at the moment. He is quite a good passer but he likes to have the ball in his hands, maybe a bit too much at moments. Abraha was also the leader of the defense at Ludwigsburg setting the tone from the start. With his size and ball handling skills, Abraha can become an interesting point guard prospect in the future but he needs to become a threat from outside as well as this will put him in problems once he plays at a higher level.
Jonathan Luyeye – 1m99 – PF/SF – 1999 – Ludwigsburg
Another long and athletic wing for Ludwigsburg was Jonathan Luyeye. On defense, he was really present with above the rim shot blocking and showed also some interesting things on the offensive end. Luyeye knocked down the three in catch-and-shot situations and even made the pull-up jumper out of the dribble. However, his shooting form is not stable yet and definitely needs more polish over the next years. Luyeye can attack the rim with either hand and is not afraid to finish on his weaker left hand in traffic. Together with his team mates, Luyeye was fantastic in putting pressure on the defensive end with his lateral speed and length but as for all the others, the question is about his individual basketball skills and their development. If that comes out, he can be another great prospect for the club.
France – Czech Republic 80 – 58
Both teams started well into the game with three points shots and scores close to the basket. France though got in small trouble once the Czech Republic changed their defense to a 1-3-1 zone where “Les Bleus” multiplied the turnovers. But two mades from behind the arc changed again the physionomy of the game and France was back in the lead. But the Czechs did not fold under the athletic pressure so that the score remained tied during the first quarter. The second ten minutes showed a similar game with the Czechs changing defenses while France had a multitude of second chances. The team around Timothe Luwawu could create a lead of 4 points which forced the Czech Republic to take a timeout with 4 minutes on the clock. Lucas Dussoulier killed the Czech zone with two threes in a row and we had a 10 point difference. The score at halftime was 42-31 in favor of the Frech team and it did not look like the Czechs could get back into this game.
The start of the second half was in favor of the French again and crowned by a beautiful alley-oop of Petr Cornelie to bring the score to 49-33. Everything went in favor of the favorites now as Adam Pechacek was called for hooking and got his third foul and the lead grew to 20 points. France started to switch in their second unit but the difference remained at 20 until the end of the third quarter. The last ten minutes were without any excitement at all as both teams were satisfied with the result or could not change it. So France qualified as first team for the semi-finals.
MVP: Petr Cornelie 11pts, 10rebs, 2blks
Spain – Belgium 67 – 55
The game started quite intensely with a lot of small fouls that went uncalled. Spain used this to create a small gap but Belgium came back into the game with Emmanuel Lecomte´s shot creating and Ismail Bako closing the paint. But Belgium had to take a first time out after Marc Garcia could attack the rim too easily that create a 5 point difference. But hustle and defense gave the Lions the possibility to bring the score back to 16-13 after the first ten minutes. With Lecomte and Thomas Akyazili on the bench to start the second quarter, Belgium had a bit of a rough start while Juancho Hernangomez continued to aggressively attack the rim. Lecomte came back and turned it over twice but Andy van Vliet made a big three to keep his team in the game. The Spanish offensive game struggled so that Bako could tie the game at 27 with 3 minutes to go. It was a real fight between two teams on the same level and Vincent Kesteloot gave the Belgians multiple second chances with his hustle so that the underdog e by 1 point at the half.
Spain started better into the second half and could take the lead back to go ahead by 5 points as the Belgian offense was not that much team-oriented anymore. Hernangomez remained the key player for Spain while their defense closed dwon Lecomte. The bad luck continued for Belgium as Bako twisted his ankle at a crucial moment and Spain used this to go up by 9. Belgium looked lost on both sides of the court but Spain could not really take a greater advantage out of it so that it was a 11 point difference before the last 10 minutes. Belgium did not give up wth Bako back on the court but they had problems to come back as their offense was too dependent on Lecomte´s creation. The Baylor guard though reduced the difference to 8 with 4 minutes left in the game while Romain Boxus even forced a Spanish timeout at –6 15 seconds later. Hernangomez blocked Lecomte hard when he tried the layup to come back to 4 which looked to be the dagger as Spain scored a 4-0 run to get back to a double-digit advantage with 2 minutes to play. Belgium tried to come back but everything was said and done. Spain advanced to the semi-final.
MVP: Juancho Hernangomez 17pts, 15rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 2blks
Turkey – Latvia 70 – 58
Turkey had the better start into the game as Latvia looked a bit out of focus in the beginning being late on nearly every ball. The Turks could therefore create a first significant lead with 12-7 after 5 minutes. Latvia was not even close to compete with the Turks who ran ahead to 20-7. Latvia finally started to play basketball a bit but the score was 22-11 for Turkey at the first break. Latvia played a zone defense that put the Turkish offense on hold but the Baltic team was unable to score on their side as well. The Turkish press defense started to have its effects and Latvia turned the ball over too many times. The game remained though on a poor level with lots of turnovers, bad choices and strange shots. At the halftime, the score was 34 – 25 in favor of the Turks.
The second half was not really better at the beginning but Latvia managed to stay alive as Rolands Smits made an important three. Turkey though was able to increase their lead a bit because of the poor Latvian offense. Berk Ugurlu scored a triple after yet another offensive rebound of his team and Latvia needed a time out with 3 minutes remaining in the game. Latvia changed to a short 2-3 zone defense and they could score a quick 7-0 run that brought them back in the game. This defense completely revigorated the Balts even if their offense remained static. But Ivargs Zivgurs scored the putback on the buzzer and it was a 5 point game again. Kristaps Gluditis made a few big plays to start the last ten minutes but Berk Ugurlu and Emircan Kosut helped Turkey to stay ahead.Turkey seemed to finally know how to attack the zone defense but shot shotmaking was probably the biggest thing as James Birsen was present from behind the arc. Latvia seemed to have finished their game now with the exception of Gluditis and Birsen and Kosut destroyed the ast chances for the Latvians to come back.
MVP: James Birsen 17pts, 6rebs, 2asts
Serbia – Lithuania 82 – 69
It was a tight game at the beginning with both teams executing well their offensive plays and going hard on defense. Nobody could create a gap but it was Domantas Sabonis who set a first sign with a massive block on the defensive end. Paulius Valinskas did some damage for the Lithuanians but Serbia stayed in the game because of Marko Tejic’s presence in the paint. The Serbs created a small lead at the end of the first quarter. Lithuania was forced to take a quick timeout at the beginning of the second quarter as Dejan Davidovac nailed a three pointer to bring the score to 20-13 in favor of Serbia. The game went now in favor of the team from the Balkan as they stole a couple of balls on the press defense. Lithuania was unable to bring the ball to Sabonis in a good situation so that Serbia could run a multitude of fastbreaks. Nikola Rebic scored at will on the set offense at that moment so that we had a 20 point difference before halftime.
Lithuania tried to come back in the third quarter and they could reduce the difference to less than 20 points. But everything was said and done and Serbia made it to the semis without a surprise.
MVP: Dejan Davidovac 16pts, 9rebs
If you want to know more about Kristaps Porzingis, click here.
Jonas Grof – 2m01 – PG – 1996 – Phoenix Hagen
The tall and athletic Grof was the key player for the hosts during the semi-final. Having already earned several minutes on the Bundesliga level, Grof showed his experience by attacking the basket constantly and leading the way with his scoring. Even if he likes a bit too much the mid-range pull up jumper, the 2m01 tall guard can go all the way to the rim to finish off two feet in the paint. With his size and athleticism, Grof is quite an unique player as he is mainly used as a PG for his team. His ball handling skills are great for a player that tall. If Grof can stabilize shot and adjust the mechanics a bit, he can become a very interesting player down the road. Hagen has put themselves on the map over recent years for giving lots of minutes to local players on the highest level so that it will be a great situation for Grof in order to gain further experience on the different guard positions in the future.
Marcel Kessen – 2m07 – PF/C – 1997 – Phoenix Hagen
Marcel Kessen was the main inside option for Hagen and he has shown really interesting progress over the last months. Not only has he grown a few centimeters, Kessen looks a lot more agile than what I remember from pervious games. The 2m07 tall inside player has quite a good touch on his shots, but he abuses a bit of it and rarely gives the ball back once he has received it. This makes him a very dangerous scorer on this level as he tries to put the ball in the basket as much as possible. Out of the low post, Kessen can finish on the turn around jump shot or go for some basic jump hook or drop step finishes. He is capable of using either hand when close enough to the basket and with his great intensity and quick feet, he can create the necessary space for getting his shots up. However, he often tends to go out of balance when attempting to score which keeps him away from becoming more effective.
Kessen is also dangerous from around the key and will most likely develop into a threat from behind the three-point line in the future. He has developed a nice first step to attack the closeouts but he lacks the necessary body stability so far to finish with hard contacts in the paint. Being still very young, this is something that will come with the years for sure. The Hagen big guy is next to his offensive presence also a great rebounder. He always finds the right spots to grab the ball and likes to push it in transition as well. Kessen has a wide body and should be able to add some weight over the next years. On the other hand, the 1997 born lacks great athletic abilities which might prevent him from developing into a top level prospect down the road.
Haris Hujic – 1m93 – SG – 1997 – Phoenix Hagen
Haris Hujic was the second scoring option in the Phoenix back court. Mainly used as a shooter, Hujic is very dangerous on kick-out passes for the catch and shoot situations as he has a really quick release and good shooting mechanics. He can though also create his own shot out of the dribble and will most likely play more of a PG role in the future with his new team in Nürnberg. Hujic has good size to run the point and he is not afraid to attack the rim where he has a multitude of options to score.
Niklas Kiel – 2m07 – PF – 1997 – Frankfurt
Niklas Kiel was a key player for the run of Eintracht Frankfurt to the Top 4. The German power forward is developing into a full stretch forward with both an inside and outside game. Kiel has improved his shooting from behind the arc and can knock down three-point shots on a regular basis, especially in catch-and-shoot situations. This improved outside shot draws the defense to come out at him which he can punish with a good first step when putting the ball on the floor. Kiel reads the defenses and can also go for the kick out on these situations. With his athletic abilities, he can finish his drives above the rim and with a growing body and the experience of working with the first team in Frankfurt, Kiel should develop even more in this area.
Inside the paint, Kiel improved in his explosiveness as well and has a way better second jump now than previously. This helps him to become very effective on the offensive glass where he can create multiple second chances. On the defensive end, Kiel has good feet in order to defend players attacking the basket from outside. With his great rebounding instincts, he is very valuable asset in the paint and can initiate the fast break really well. Still very young, Niklas Kiel looks like one of the most promising German prospects on his position and it should not last that long until he sees first minutes on a regular basis with the Fraport Skyliners.
Jules Akodo – 1m88 – PG – 1996 – Frankfurt
Jules Akodo played a good Top 4 in his role as scoring PG. Physically strong, more than nearly anyone in the event, Akodo showed improving shooting skills from behind the arc. He was very effective during the semi-final but struggled with his shot in the Final. In catch-and-shoot situations, he can execute his move perfectly but tends to lose the right movement once being put under pressure. His good first step though helps him to remain dangerous when the shot is not falling and he can go all the way to the basket for the score. Out of the drives, he sees his team mates well and had some nice drive and kick plays during the Top4. Out of the defensive rebound, where he is quite present for a guard, he can go full coast-2-coast and also finish off his weak hand at the rim. It will be interesting to see what’s next for the British prospect as he has finished his NBBL eligibility but can not play as a local for the Skyliners pro team.
Lennart Okeke – 1m91 – SG – 1996 – Frankfurt
Okeke was the main shooting option for the finalists. The 1m91 tall guard was effective both from the behind the arc and the mid-range territory. Okeke was more a target for the kick-out passes than being able to create his shot out of the dribble. However, he was really doing well when he come off screens for the jump shot. Displaying a good speed, Okeke needs to improve his ball handling a bit in order to be capable of attacking the basket on the highest level. He might lack the necessary physical strength to score against taller players but he can develop into an interesting role player for a team lacking shooting skills.
Armin Musovic – 1m94 – PG – 1996 – Frankfurt
The second PG from Frankfurt played an interesting Top4. In fact, Armin Musovic was their best Pick and Roll ball handler and the guard created multiple baskets for either himself or one of his team mates out of these situations. Capable of shooting from behind the arc as well, Musovic has a good package to become a factor on the professional level. With his good speed on the drive and the capacity to create the necessary space to score against taller players, Musovic showed that technically he can make the next step in a near future. He lacks though a physical presence as he looks quite thin which might become a problem on the pro level.
Armin Trtovac – 2m10 – C – 1997 – Frankfurt
One of the rare real big guys in the event, Armin Trtovac was a key player for the finalists as he took a lot of space in the paint and was also capable to score a few baskets when he received the ball in the right position. Neither explosive nor athletic, Trtovac has a large body though and looks quite strong. He can find a position in the paint and when he receives the ball, he has good hands to convert the passes into baskets. Additionally, Trtovac can knock down jump shots from around the key but he barely lifts the ground when he shoots. A Serbian native but coming originally from Mainz, Trtovac could be an interesting addition even for a Serbian U18 National Team because of his size and presence in the paint. He might not develop into a top level prospect because of his athletic short comings but his body will make him an interesting player to follow another year in the NBBL.
Karim Jallow – 1m95 – SG – 1997 – Bayern München
Karim Jallow underlined during the Top4 what we saw from him in Kaunas at the ANGT, a high level defensive player with super energy and good athletic abilities. Not the biggest scorer, Jallow had a clear role in this Bayern team where he was surrounded by talented scorers and good big guys. His shooting remains a work in progress and the execution remains slow. However, Jallow is great in transition where he can use his speed and above average athletic abilities to push the ball and go all the way to the basket. His biggest strength though remains his capacity to shut down a player on defense with his great lateral speed, hustle and length. Jallow should be able to develop into a good asset for any BBL team in the next years.
Richard Freudenberg – 2m02 – SF – 1998 – Bayern München
Elected MVP of the Top4, Richard Freudenberg was impressive during the Final where he got a spot in the Starting 5 despite being the youngest player on the team. A real shot maker, Freudenberg could dominate the NBBL for his three years of eligibility because he can do everything on the court. Improving athletic abilities, better decisions on defense and a growing leadership are some of the characteristics that could be seen in Hagen. Freudenberg has developed one of the most beautiful jump shots which he can knock down from everywhere on the court. He likes to create his own shots out of the dribble but still rarely goes all the way to the hoop for the finish. It is still impressive how he can decide a game when being 2 years younger than the competition and the question is when will he start to have an impact on the Senior level as he has always been premature.
Dejan Kovacevic – 2m07 – PF – 1996 – Bayern München
Dejan Kovacevic has developed into a really interesting prospect for the PF position. Capable of shooting from outside as well as from mid-range, the Serbian native showed some good skills off the dribble during the two days in Hagen. Kovacevic has quick feet and knows how to put the ball on the floor and can even come up with the occasional spin move followed by a jump shot. However, the long forward rarely attacks the basket when coming from outside and prefers the mid range game over the clashes in the paint. Good rebounder, Kovacevic though lacks a bit of toughness to become a really versatile inside-outside player.
Marvin Ogunsipe – 2m04 – PF – 1996 – Bayern München
The second inside option for the Bayern Munich team was the Austrian Power Forward Marvin Ogunsipe. Gifted with a good outside shot, Ogunsipe mainly had two moves on offense. Either he scored in the Pick and Pop situation from behind the arc or he used his left hand to attack the basket and score at the rim. With these two plays on offense, he could create some danger against any defense on this level. Additionally, Ogunsipe likes to play in the paint as showed some nice passes out of low post situations. On the defensive end, the Austrian was a key player because of his length and versatility to defend to different positions. He likes also to jump into the passing lanes in order to steal the ball and run the transition. It will be interesting to see what the next steps are for Ogunsipe as he can not play as a German player in the Bundesliga.
Tim Schneider – 2m05 – PF – 1997 – ALBA Berlin
The lonely bright spot on the ALBA team during the semi-final was the 1997 born Power Forward Tim Schneider. Physically strong, Schneider was very present in rebounding on both sides of the court. The 2m05 tall player can hit a shot from outside but it is not his first option. He prefers to work in the paint where he can use his strength. Additionally, Schneider looks to have developed a nice drive over the last year as he attacked the basket from outside and even showed a spin move here and there before the finish. With Moritz Wagner leaving for Michigan, Tim Schneider should have a lot of responsibilities next season in the NBBL and he could develop into a really interesting prospect for ALBA.
JBBL: Artland Dragons – BBA Ludwigsburg 61 – 62
The Dragons started well into the game with Philipp Herkenhoff doing his job and Thorben Döding running the show. However, quick foul trouble by the Dragons PG gave Ludwigsburg the possibility to turn the game around with their multiple rotations and defensive pressure. Lawrence Mugagan was everywhere on the court and Daniel Franz scored in the paint. Ludwigsburg went ahead by 10 points and controlled the game until the final minutes. With several big plays, Herkenhoff brought his team back but the Dragons were unable to get the victory despite poor decisions by Ludwigsburg to manage the crunch time. In the end, the team of coach Ross Jorgusen survived the final Dragons spurt and has been crowned JBBL Champion 2015 with real team basketball and without any dominating individuals.
NBBL: Eintracht Frankfurt – FC Bayern München 59 – 69
Bayern Munich took the lead from the start despite the absence of their Starting PG. However Frankfurt was better in the second part of the first quarter and had a slight advantage after the first ten minutes. With Richard Freudenberg to start the game, the forward made his shots in order to help his team stay close. With Karim Jallow putting defensive pressure on the Frankfurt guards, the team from the South was capable of controlling the game even with their backup players. Niklas Kiel was unable to dominate in the paint so that Munich took over the advantage in the second half. Freudenberg knocked down a couple of threes and the gap was there. Frankfurt could not come back and the players of coach Oliver Kostic finished the season with a win that means NBBL Champion 2015.
Player reports on the main prospects will be published during the next days.
JBBL Individual Awards
NBBL Individual Awards
JBBL: Artland Dragons – TSV Tröster Breitengüssbach 61 – 57
The first game of the day was a matchup between Philipp Herkenhoff and Nicolas Wolf, the two best individuals in the MVP vote of the JBBL. The Dragons were leading nearly the whole game and Herkenhoff showed his talent in multiple ways. He dominated in the paint but also played from outside or pushed the ball in transition. Together with his PG Thorben Döding, they were too strong for a Breitengüssbach team where only Wolf managed to be a dangerous scorer. The Dragons qualified in the end for the final for the second time in a row despite the fact that their best player from last season had to leave for the NBBL this summer. With their structured play and the best individual prospect of the JBBL category, they look like the favorite for the title on Sunday.
JBBL: Phoenix Hagen – BBA Ludwigsburg 60 – 68
The second semi-final was marked by a clear break, the hosts dominated the first half and Ludwigsburg the second. Driven by Jasper Günther, the younger brother of Per, Hagen went ahead in the first half by constantly attacking the basket. Vladimir Pinchuk though was not effective as usual and missed too many shots. In the second half though, the length and athleticism of Ludwigbsurg took over as Lawrence Mugagan in the paint and Fekremariam Abraha as a calm leader initiated a run that changed the game. Mateo Seric closed the game then in the final minutes from the free-throw line and created the surprise. Ludwigsburg was the more balanced team that could increase their defensive pressure during the game despite a poor shooting day both on the free-throw and three point line.
NBBL: Phoenix Hagen – Eintracht Frankfurt 80 – 88 (2OT)
In an extremely tight game, Eintracht Frankfurt managed to qualify for the NBBL Final for the first time in its history. Niklas Kiel and Jules Akodo were the key players for Frankfurt as the German Power Forward finished with 24 points and 22 rebounds while going 8/9 from the free-throw line. Akodo organized the game well and found his team mates so many times out of his drives. The Brit had 25 points and 8 rebounds at the end. For Hagen, Jonas Grof was the driving force as the tall PG scored 28 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. Marcel Kessen was present in the paint but he rushed too many decisions so that the hosts could not qualify either in the JBBL nor NBBL for the finals. It were Grof and Haris Hujic who saved Hagen into the first overtime and Grof again who managed to get a second extra period. But during these second 5 bonus minutes, Hagen could not resist anymore and got eliminated.
NBBL: FC Bayern München – ALBA Berlin 66 – 56
Bayern Munich started extremely aggressively into this second semi-final and eliminated any chances for ALBA right from the start. With a suffocating defense, Munich forced multiple turnovers and their inside combo Dejan Kovacevic – Marvin Ogunsipe scored multiple baskets. With Richard Freudenberg coming from the bench and Karim Jallow playing pressure defense, the team from the South had the larger energy reserves as ALBA top prospect Moritz Wagner was benched for long stretches in the first half because of foul trouble. ALBA though tired to fight their way back into the game in the second half but could never get closer than 6 points in the final seconds. With this victory, Bayern looks like the favorite for the final on Sunday even though they probably have to play without their Starting PG Sebastian Schmitt who twisted his ankle during the game.