The Nike Hoop Summit 2009 has seen the first victory of the World Select team since Dirk Nowitzki in 1998. The team of coach Rob Beveridge took over the lead in the final minutes of the game despite being athletically far behind the more spectacular US kids. Being more limited in that are was not a big surprise but the more intelligent and clutch play in the last quarter secured this big win. Beveridge said after the game that it was the most intelligent group of big guys he has coached in his 5 year experience of the Hoop Summit. Let’s talk a look at the players that used the event to boost their stock.
Milan Macvan (Serbia – 2m06 – PF – 1989) 23pts 14rebs 6asts
If there was one player that was supposed to struggle in this type of competition because of his lack of athletic abilities, it was Milan Macvan. But what a show he put on the floor in Portland, displaying that basketball is all about fundamentals, shooting and knowledge of the game. He outsmarted the whole US frontcourt with fakes and a massive presence on the offensive glass and you could easily see that he is the player that is currently active on the highest competition level (EuroCup) of all the present guys.
Macvan, despite being undersized and slower than his opponents, showed a nice arsenal of offensive weapons that nobody could really respond. He excels in pick-and-roll or pop situations where his massive screens put the US team several times in trouble because they could not read his offensive positioning. As Macvan has deep range, he hit one shot in the money time to seal the game a good meter behind the NBA three point line, it is very difficult to defend him because he is not afraid of driving where he can protect the ball very well.
Out of these drive situations, he has a great court-vision to dish the ball to his open team mates. Defensively, Macvan tries to play more with his basketball understanding than with athletic abilities and speed. Laterally, you see him struggle when being attacked of the dribble but a faster opponent. This lack of athleticism may prevent him from being a real NBA prospect, but for the European level, he has every tool to become a dominant PF in a near future.
Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania – 2m15 – PF – 1990) 21pts 8rebs
Donatas is one of these incredibly talented 1990 born Bigs with the combination of size and pure basketball talent. Together with Jan Vesely and Tomislav Zubcic, they represent the future of European basketball of this age category, not to speak of Ricky Rubio. Motiejunas came to Portland fully motivated despite missing the Final Four of the Baltic Challenge Cup with his home team. And right from the start of the game, you could see the talent level of Motiejunas is tough to be matched.
He started the game with two nice drives of his left hand where no defender had a chance to stop him. Out of these drives, he can go for a perfect kick out pass for the open shooter or finish of some kind of running hook shot, a shot that he handles also with his right hand. When posting up, he often goes for some kind of turn around jump shot, which he executes on both sides and that he knocks down even when being fouled.
In this game, Motiejunas was not highly present on rebounding, but his size and mobility give him the possibility to grab a nice amount of missed shots. His current position is being the PF but depending on the matchups, he can play either the SF or the C position during stretches. He is now back to Lithuania and will discuss the possibility to enter the NBA Draft with his parents and agent. He is certainly not ready yet to play on that level right now as he is physically only average at the moment. And the question how he develops when gaining weight has still to be answered.
Tomislav Zubcic (Croatia – 2m11 – PF – 1990) 17pts 5rebs 2blks
The Croatian forward has a really nice showing in this game despite playing a lot on the SF position because of the somehow strange selection of the World Squad that had no real SF on his roster. But Zubcic showed his nice versatility and ability to handle the ball. In certain press situations, he even took over the PG job to bring the ball up and use his size to pass the ball above the shorter US guards that were setting up the defense.
Zubcic used his size and timing to be very present on the offensive glass where he managed to capture several offensive rebounds and either finishing them with a layup or giving a nice pass to his team mate bigs. He had several strong drives of the baseline where he finished despite being fouled pretty hard at times. His nice execution speed helps him to gain advantage when he is guarded by a bigger player.
Nikos Pappas (Greece – 1m93 – PG – 1990) 10pts 3asts 3stls
After having put on a big show at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Mannheim one year ago, it was time again for Pappas to shine a little bit on the international scene. The Greek guard that plays currently in Spain showed that he is a nice scoring talent and can hit the three ball without any problem in catch and shoot fashion. To create a clean shot against the more athletic US guards is however not his strength and you could see Pappas sometimes go for some difficult running floaters, which he can hit even when jumping of the wrong foot.
I don’t know if it is because it is on TV, but to me, Pappas looked a bit faster on his drives where he beat the defense several times to finish of a layup. He can create for his team mates when driving to the hoop but he struggled sometimes to bring up the ball against the highly aggressive defense and needed the help of Zubcic to come over mid-court. Far away from being a NBA prospect right now, Pappas will probably move into the direction of becoming a solid Euroleague player in the next years and a constant member of the Greek national team once the current generation has retired.
Kevin Seraphin (France – 2m06 – C – 1989) 8pts 9rebs 4blks
Being only used during limited minutes in Cholet, the event in Portland was a bit of a coming out party on the highest level for the French Center. Displaying great athleticism and very big hands, Kevin Seraphin showed a big presence on the rebound on both ends of the court. You could see his arm raise several times out of the paint to get the ball far above the rim. He also had several blocked shots coming on help situations or as a second row goalkeeper.
Offensively though, Seraphin has still a lot of progress before as he is not very accurate when it comes to jump shots. Close to the rim, he finishes with dunks or layups but missed a couple of close shots around the basket. He has already a big body and knows how to use in order to gain a favorable position over the defenders. He should see a lot more minutes from next season on in the French championship and it will be interesting to see at what level he will be after a full season of professional basketball.
Watch here below the highlights of the game. (Courtesy of OregonLive)
|Nike Hoop Summit: World Team upsets USA, 97-89|