The U17 World Championship will start in Kaunas on Friday so we want to take a look forward to see who are the players to follow. Our friend Facundo from Argentina was so kind to send us a preview on his team that recently reached the second place in the Douai tournament by losing in the Final to the future winner or France. So let’s check who will be on the court for the Gauchos.
After finishing in the fourth position of last U19 World Championship in 2011, another Argentinean youth team will try to reach at least the same place. And this U17 team has all the conditions to do it. In the preparation for the championship, they beat Spain and then arrived to the finals of Douai international tournament in France.
This team has won the U15 South American championship in 2010 and then lost the final of the U16 FIBA Americas against USA in 2011. Some players are playing together for the last two years. The three most important will be: Gabriel Deck, Rodrigo Haag and Alvaro Merlo.
Gabriel Deckis one of the new promises from Argentina. He comes from being one of the top scorers in the U18 FIBA Americas in Brazil. Deck is an undersized power forward with a variety of movements in the low post, that make him very hard to defend. He played some games last year in Liga A (Argentinian first division) in Quimsa of Santiago del Estero.
Rodrigo Haagalso comes from the U18 tournament in Brazil. He has never been with a professional team yet, but he is a very talented guard with a good shoot beyond the arc. He is expected to be one of the leaders in the offensive game of Argentina.
Alvaro Merlois the son of one of the most important players of Argentina´s last years: Raul Chuni Merlo. He is a very quick point guard with a great ability to run the fast break and find his teammates in the open court. He could continue his career in the American college system.
Among the other players, you have to pay attention to Luca Vildoza, he emerged last year playing some important games in Quilmes Mar del Plata (Liga A). He has terrific athletic conditions, and caused a great impact in the last friendly games.
Juan Vauletis the youngest member of the team and caused a good impact too in the games in Spain and France.
Lucio Reinaudiis another one who plays in a Liga A team, and could be important for the team coming from the bench.
Agustin Caffaro is the tallest man. He still needs to improve a lot of things but will be interesting to see how he plays in his first international tournament.
Matias Aristu and Lucas Gargalloare also two good players who could have an interesting tournament.
Good defense and collective game will be the keys for a team, without many tall players, but with a lot of talent and at least 4 interesting prospects for Europe and maybe NBA if they continue working next years.
Here is the full roster of the Argentinean team that will travel to Lithuania.
4 – Matias Aristu – 193 – G/F – 95 - Libertad Sunchales
5 – Lucio Reinaudi – 183 – G – 95 – 9 de Julio Rio Tercero
6 – Juan Vaulet – 196 – F – 96 – Hindu Club Cordoba
7 – Gabriel Deck – 198 – F – 95 – Quimsa Santiago del Estero
8 – Joaquin Giarrafa – 192 – F – 95 – Boca Juniors
9 – Lucas Vildoza – 188 – G – 95 – Quilmes Mar del Plata
10 – Alvaro Merlo – 170 – G – 95 – Cilclsta juninense
11 – Rodrigo Haag – 190 – G – 95 – Echague Parana
12 – Lucas Gargallo – 198 – F – 95 – Boca Juniors
13 – Guillermo Lopez – F – 95 – Banco Nacion
14 – Facundo Vallejos – 202 – C – 95 – Boca Juniors
15 – Agustin Caffaro – 206 – C – 95 – San Martin Marcos Juarez
Head Coach: Enrique Tolcachier
Assistant Coach: Eduardo Japez
Facundo Iatzky played basketball in Quilmes Mar del Plata, one of the most important teams of Argentina until the age of 18. He is currently studying management and used to work with a basketball agent, but left two years ago. Currently, he is the Argentinean correspondent for Latinbasket.com. You can follow him on Twitter @facuiatzky