European Prospects

News about Young European Basketball Prospects

Ponitka and Akyazili playing against each other in Oostende

December 27th, 2014 · No Comments

My trip to Belgium started with a Scooore League game in Oostende where the locals played against Antwerp. The main goal of this first part of the trip was to see the Polish prospect Mateusz Ponitka but in the end, he was not the guy who impressed me the most of the youngsters on the court.

Ponitka started the game for Oostende but you could immediately see one of his main weaknesses. The physically stronger Jean-Marc Mwema took him to the low post and scored on him easily. Ponitka struggled against Mwema to keep him out of position and this translated to his offensive game. The Polish prospect could not score one basket in the whole game and his offensive actions were quite rare. He found twice one of his team mates in a good position but he airballed a three pointer from the corner badly. The coach took him out of the game early and he never found his way back. He scored two important free-throws in the end but overall, it was a disapointing performance by the 1993 born. Like this, it will be tough for the forward to have a chance to get drafted in 2015 which is his main goal of the season. Ponitka needs to be able to defend against physically stronger players to be able to play on that level but this game showed the problems he has to do so.

These impressions come of course only from a single game but they were quite important. Ponitka is of course a highly talented player but his development seems to have stagnated a bit over the last months. For a better idea on where he can go in the future, more games are needed to understand his potential.

For Antwerpen, Thomas Akyazili saw a several minutes on the court. The 1997 born guard shared the PG duties and played both backcourt positions. He was not afraid to attack the basket but missed his floater when he put the ball on the floor and went to the hoop in traffic. The 1m88 tall prospect attack the Oostende defense several times on his left hand and created some open opportunities for his team mates on drive and kick situations. He was not afraid at all and did his job on the defensive end as well. The Belgian who is looking for a scholarship opportunity in the NCAA will be one of the players that I will follow more over the next days at the Xmas Tournament in Kortrijk.

Finally, some more general notes on the game in Oostende. Belgium with its 6+6 rule is in a situation that can be compared a bit to Germany a few years ago as some teams still focus mainly on their 6 import players instead of building up a base of strong local players. For Oostende, it were clearly the Belgian players who decided the game while Antwerp was more focused on their imports. Basketball in Belgium is a real family event. People are at the arena one hour before the game to have a drink. Tons of kids are supporting the home team in the arena and wait long minutes next to the locker room for some autographs while the parents are having a couple of beers in the meantime.

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