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NIJT 2010: Who are the players to watch?

May 4th, 2010 · 6 Comments

The Nike International Junior Tournament is just a few hours away, so it was about time to check who are the players to look at. After having covered the two Qualification Tournaments in Rome and Belgrade, europeanprospects.com will also be in Paris over the full 4 days to give you a lot more information on the players and their performances in the most prestigious Junior Club Tournament in Europe.

In Group A, FMP looks to be the favorite as the defending champion seems to be the most loaded. However, FMP could not manage to win the Serbian U18 Championship this season which shows that the team looks weaker than the year before. Even if Nikola Siladi and Nemanja Bezbradica are interesting prospects in the paint, they don’t have the presence of Dejan Musli during the previous editions. On the other hand, Nenad Miljenovic is certainly the player that gets the most interest in but I am still not totally convinced about his long-term high-level potential. His game is sometimes too erratic and the forcing of the mid-range jump shot as he did more and more is not speaking in his favor. A player to look at though for the future is the 1994 born PF Nikola Jankovic.

KK Split just came of a 4-0 record  at the Croatian U18 Semi-Final round where they advanced to the Final 4 while dominating their opponents by an average margin of more than 30 points. With this confidence boost, the team around Toni Katic and Filip Najev who both missed the Albert Schweitzer Tournament because they had to play with the professional team, can play now an important role after their disappointing 6th place in l’Hospitalet. Katic finished the tournament in Spain as top scorer with 30ppg and 5rpg and will certainly be the offensive leader of the Croats. He gets the help from the versatile Najev, a 2m04 tall wing player who averaged 18.3ppg and 7.3rpg in January.

Benetton Treviso should normally come to Paris in full force which means that their top scorer Alessandro Gentile will be with the team. The Italian guard, who led all scorers in Rome back in December with 37.5ppg is certainly one of the most interesting players to see in Paris because of his massive scoring talent but also to see how he has developed in terms of leadership and team effort. Another player to watch is the Croatian 1993 born Armin Mazic, a tall guard who can play the PG position while being 1m98 tall. He was one of the players we particularly liked back in the Stella Azzurra tournament where Treviso reached the final and only lost to Zalgiris in a final where Gentile was injured.

Unicaja Malaga is one of the teams I have not seen this season but they feature certainly some of the most interesting individualities in the tournament. Rafael Freire has already seen major minutes with the ACB team and the Brazilian guard will certainly be one of the scoring leaders of the team. He will get support of Miki Servera who has showed his talent all season long and will also be one of the leaders of the Spanish U18 National team this summer. Other interesting players on the Spanish roster are of course Malick Fall, the 2m10 tall  Center or the two young Czech players Samuel Faifr and Jan Svandrlik.

In the Group B, Union Olimpija Ljubljana comes of several preparation games they had over the last week where they beat Crabs Rimini and Bosna Sarajevo but lost to Hemofarm Vrsac. Coach Luka Bassin has additionally to deal with the two big guys Gezim Morina and Boris Bosnjak being questionable because of injuries. A player to look at with the Slovenian team is certainly the 1994 born Kosovar Erjon Kastrati who showed some nice things during the Qualification tournament in London while the player all depends on in the Slovenian game is their PG Jan Span.

The main favorites for the title are probably the Lithuanians from Zalgiris Kaunas. They impressed everyone with their polished and athletic play in Rome and with the return of their starting PG Vytenis Cizaukas, they look as the strongest team in Paris. Rolandas Jakstas dominated the paint and he should be among the most physical players in the whole tournament while the Lithuanian backcourt has a lot of different options. If you add the versatile wings Tomas Lekunas and Tauras Jogela and the Jordan Brand Classic participant Augustinas Jankaitis to the group, you can imagine how strong this squad is.

The home team coming from INSEP will be in Paris without two of their main options still out because of injuries (Westermann and Pourchot). So it will be once again Mathis Keita who has a lot of work to do on the guard positions while the inside players will use their athletic abilities to overcome their limited offensive skills. Livio Jean-Charles is one of the players to take a closer look at as the athletic 1993 born is currently on the way to develop into a SF after playing mainly as pure inside player with the U16 National team. Charly Maraux impressed some people but he did not get a lot of minutes back in the Qualification tournament phase in Belgrade despite being a great play maker. But he is born only in 1994 and therefore 2 years younger than the rest of the group.

The surprising champions of l’Hospitalet Cajasol Sevilla come to Paris with the underdog status. The team is lead in scoring by Pablo Villarejo who had 18.7ppg in January while one of the most interesting players on the team will probably be the Senegalese Pape Amadou. The 1993 born forward scored 14.3ppg in Hospitalet while converting 60% of his shots and added 7.3rpg. The team is run by the tiny PG Manuel Gonzalez while the Brazilian Gabriel Darin is giving them the necessary presence in the paint with his 2m08.

You can find all the information concerning the tournament on the official website: http://www.euroleague.net/events/nike-international-junior-tournament/paris

We also recommend you to check out the official Media Guide of the Junior Tournament with some additional information.

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Boris // May 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Najev is PF, old fashion type that plays more under the basket than outside, togh in Split he mostley plays at C because team lacks of qulaity big. He is somthing like Marko Banic, udersized PF but more athetic then Marko was. He is somthin about 204-05 and probabley won’t grove more as his body is very developed. He can hit 3 with feat set. In future his maximum is probabley similar like Banic one.

    Katic is more scorer, than playmaker. Has very good drives and fudumenteals. He is also turnover machine. He is nither super fast, supercreative or amazing ballhandler, but his sucsess comes from his pasion, great sport character and big time hard work. That’s why he could end up being very good euroleague PG in future

  • 2 Djuro // May 4, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    FMP has very young team. Only 3-4 player are 92 born. Most players are 1993. However they are very talented and most of them play for U17 national selection. The bad result in U18 national chanpionship was since they played II Senior Serbian league almost at the same time.

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  • 4 albiongate // May 6, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Danilo Toskovic (SF, 195, 1992, Santa Monica HS) is playing as guest player for FMP Zeleznik at the Nike International Junior Tournament. Other guest players for FMP, Bogdan Bogdanovic (SF, 196, 1992, Zitko) and Luka Pajkovic (PG, 189, 1992, Zitko). Danilo’s sister Milica (F, 186, 1993, Windward HS) has played for serbian U16 NT last summer.

  • 5 Darius // May 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Jogela will not play, because this weekend he injured his shoulder and is out, probably, for the whole summer. Fell after a dunk…like Bogut.

  • 6 aaa // May 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Prepelic is playing as guest player for Olimpija Ljubljana…

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