Some more notes from the U20 Tournament that has been played in Luxembourg this week.
- France continued their run to finish the tournament unbeaten. And it was also Kim Tillie that continued his impressive play during this tournament. After the performances here, France U20 can seriously be considered as a Medal candidate in Riga for the U20 European Championships. Having a back court rotation with Antoine Diot, Thomas Heurtel, Aboulaye M’Baye, Rudy Jomby and Edwin Jackson is particularly impressive on this level. And the inside sector with hard working role players like Guy-Marc Michel and the scoring Adrien Moerman is also on a very high level.
- Lithuania finished 2nd of the tournament with only one loss, against France. After totally dominating Spain on Friday, the Lithuanians had a nice comeback win on Saturday against Russia while they had no problems to destroy Luxembourg tonight. The Baltic team has multiple scoring options and is of course having their clear-cut leader in Martynas Gecevicius. But also guys like Vaidas Cepukaitis, Sarunas Vasiliauskas and the surprising Canada located Evaldas Zabas are doing a good job. Zabas only joined the team this year after he came to Lithuania and showed up at the preparation camp asking if he could join the team. He practiced hard and made the cut and is now in the rotation. Zabas is currently considered as the 2nd best PG in Canada just behind Devoe Joseph.
- A disappointing Spanish team finished however on the correct 3rd place. Disappointing especially in the games I saw them play. But if you add Victor Claver, who just got cut from the Spanish senior National team for the Olympics, you have a very talented and well equilibrated team. Pablo Aguilar was playing a correct tournament over the whole days doing a bit of everything. With the addition of Claver, the inside game will be enforced because for the moment, Spain was a bit weak over there.
- The fourth place was for Turkey after their wins against Russia and Luxembourg. The team from coach Orhun Ene was clearly led by Dogus Balbay and Baris Hersek but the rest of the team could never come up with top-level European performances. In Riga, we won’t probably see a lot of improvement for them as the roster simply lacks of quality in my eyes.
- Russia finishes fifth of the tournament with a lonely win over Luxembourg. Despite aligning talented players like Dimitry Khvostov, Artem Yakovenko, Artem Zabelin or Ilya Syrovatko, Russia could never setup great basketball or at least, could not stand to play on a high level for 40 minutes. The addition of Alexey Shved is questionable and with the displayed attitude here, I won’t see them going far in Riga.
- Luxembourg finished last of the tournament but showed extreme will and fighting spirit throughout the 5 days. Being incredibly inferior in terms of size, the team played a speedy guard game based on aggressive defense and three point shooting. They showed their best game probably against Turkey where they remained in the game until the 32nd minute but then got killed in the last 8 of the game. A very big honorable mention for the whole team.
- My personal All-Tournament team would be the following:
PG Sarunas Vasiliauskas (Lithuania)
SG Edwin Jackson (France)
SF Pablo Aguilar (Spain)
PF Kim Tillie (France)
C Vaidas Cepukaitis (Lithuania)