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U18 European Championship 2013: the Guards

July 29th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Here we go for the reports on the best guards of the U18 European Championship of Division A in Riga. The reports includes scoutings on the All-Tournament Team members Paolo Marinelli and Kenan Sipahi and multiple other players.

Kenan Sipahi – 1m95 – PG –  1995 – Turkey

The MVP of the event showed in Riga, especially in the Final, why he is considered as one of the best guards of his generation. After being a phenomenon already at a young age, Sipahi has matured physically and displays now a better body and a good athletic potential. Next to his massive vocal presence on the court, that is however always in a positive direction, Sipahi is still a great basketball talent and a deserved MVP of this championship.

Excellent in the open court where he can push the ball very well, the 1m95 tall PG is finding his team mates really well both inside and outside. His reads of Pick and Roll situations are very good thanks to a great court vision and experience of recognizing the defensive rotations. Out of the Pick and Roll, Sipahi has improved in the pull up jumper from mid distance and he can knock it down with good elevation. He looks improved athletically and can come up with good hangtime moves now which is a major plus for him.

His first step is also moving into the right direction so that he can create a lot from the dribble. He is able to attack the basket and can finish in the paint against the defense as well but has a preference for the kick out passes once the help defense is coming. With his growing physical presence, Sipahi is also occasionally posting up smaller defenders and he finds the cutter well when being double-teamed. On the other hand, Sipahi needs to work still on his three-point shot which is only “ok” at the moment, especially out of the dribble. He can make these kind of shots but he seems to be not too regular at it which is underlined by his poor shooting percentage throughout the tournament.

Stats: 10.9ppg (45.5% 2FGs – 21.4% 3FGs), 3.8rpg, 5.0apg

Cedi Osman – 2m01 – SG – 1995 – Turkey

It has not been a great tournament individually for Cedi Osman, but the long shooting guard from Turkey offers still a very interesting profile. Good size for a backcourt player, Osman excels when he can attack the basket and finish in the paint with either hand. He can push the ball well and has a good first step either left or right. He also got stronger physically since I have seen for the last time and he should not have a problem to make the next step to the professional level quite soon. He needs though to work on his outside shot which is turning around 25% over the last season in order to become a more serious threat from the three point area as well as this would make him really more effective as the defense could not step back from him anymore.

Stats: 5.8ppg (40.0% 2FGs – 23.8% 3FGs), 2.3rpg

Rade Zagorac – 2m01 – SG/PG – 1995 – Serbia

Zagorac was a bit of a mixed bag for me during the days in Riga. The Serbian combo guard has still great potential with his size, shooting and ball handling skills to play PG but he never really took over the leader role of a Serbian team that was less talented than previous years with multiple players missing. Nevertheless, Zagorac showed the way with his fighting spirit and never giving up. Mainly used as a SG, Zagorac rarely was the main ball handler of the team except in fast break situations which he initiated immediately out of the rebound. He can find the roller in Pick and Roll action but his overall ball handling is not great so that he risks the turnover when he tries to beat the defense coming on help. He likes to attack though until the hoop which he is capable off because of his size but he sometimes does too much. Zagorac probably plays better when he has better team mates around him as well.

Stats: 9.0ppg (42.6% 2FGs – 33.3% 3FGs), 4.3rpg

Ognjen Jaramaz – 1m91 – PG – 1995 – Serbia

A positive surprise for the Serbian team was in my eyes their PG Ognen Jaramaz. Quite athletic and fast, Jaramaz did an excellent job attacking the defensive gaps and finishing at the rim. Not really a major creator for his team mates, Jaramaz played very aggressive though and used his good first step to beat defenders on the dribble on a regular basis. He can finish with either hand, also with the foul because of a good hang time which offers him unexpected finishes in the paint. He is also a good rebounder for his size and he likes to go coast-to-coast immediately pushing the ball really hard in transition.

When he attacks the basket, he can however also finish from mid-range but mainly with a running floater where he showed good touch either directly or off the glass. He rarely comes up with the pull-up jumper from mid-distance though as his overall shot is more a work in progress at the moment. He has good elevation when taking the jump shot but he is not really regular, especially from behind the arc. Jaramaz has the tools to become an interesting player on the professional level when he can improve his defectiveness in shooting as the drive and physical presence are already there.

Stats: 9.7ppg (42.9% 2FGs – 22.6% 3FGs), 4.3rpg, 2.0apg

Davis Geks – 1m92 – SG – 1995 – Latvia

Davis Geks was the main backcourt option for the Latvian team in this event. Gifted with good speed, Geks likes to create his own shot using a good cross over move to get the necessary space in mid-range for the pull-up jumper. With his great speed on the handle and the first step, he was able to create multiple opportunities like that but also attack the basket where he found his big men when the help was coming. His three-point shot in catch-and-shoot situations looks good too, at least better than when he creates it out of the dribble. It should though be a question of time until he becomes more regular with the pull-up three as he did during the season.

Superbly from the free-throw line (above 90%), Geks is also a good presence on the defensive end. He is doing a great job reading what the offense wants to do and he can come up with the steals in the passing lanes predicting what is next. Additionally, he is a surprising defensive rebounder which helps him to initiate the fast break on an effective way. In the end of the season, he showed with VEF Riga that he is ready to make the next step and have some regular impact on the professional level from next season. The question remains though if he will settle down as a PG or SG in the future as he can share the ball occasionally but it was not his role with this Latvian team.

Stats: 8.6ppg (34.1% 2FGs – 29.0% 3FGs), 5.8rpg, 3.2apg

Agusti Sans – 1m94 – SG/PG – 1995 – Spain

Agusti Sans played a really good tournament and he would have deserve a spot in the All-Tournament team in my eyes. Clearly the backcourt scoring leader of his team, Sans set the pace of the Spanish offense and scored when his team needed the points. He is able to create his own shot on this level even if his jumper does not really have a lot of elevation, especially from behind the arc. He can create though the necessary space in Pick and Roll situations that he can come up with some kind of set shot.

But Sans has really impressed when he attacked the basket with a very low dribble and good fakes. Athletically, he is decent for European level which helps the left handed guard to finish also in the paint against the big guys. In transition, he likes to push the ball as well and runs the lanes really well when he has to play off-guard. Sans is effective in both back-court positions but I would not be surprised if he settles down fully at the PG spot in the future with his great size for this position.

Stats: 12.3ppg (42.4% 2FGs – 28.9% 3FGs), 3.6rpg, 2.3apg

Alberto Abalde – 2m00 – SG – 1995 – Spain

After playing superbly at the NIJT in London, it was kind  of a disappointing tournament individually for Alberto Abalde as his shot was not really falling throughout the days in Riga. However, the Spanish SG was doing a good job when he attacked the basket where he showed his good speed putting the ball on the floor, especially with his right hand. He can finish in the paint but also with the nice running floater from the top. Against smaller defenders, he can also post up but prefers to go for the turn around jump shot than really using his size to score underneath. Nevertheless, Abalde was a major part of the Spanish success at this event and he has certainly a very interesting future in front of himself in the ACB.

Stats: 8.8ppg (41.9% 2FGs – 18.8% 3FGs), 4.0rpg

Alberto Martin – 1m80 – PG – 1995 – Spain

The tiny Spanish guard was the tempo maker of the Iberian offense pushing the ball extremely hard in transition and setting up the plays perfectly. Martin was one of the best three-point shooters of the tournament and despite his size, he was able to score against the defense. When attacking the basket, Martin was not afraid to score in the paint through multiple ways and even came up with a scoop shot once going for some kind of post up. On the defensive end, Martin was even more impressive playing really hard and harassing the opposing ball handlers constantly. All the Spanish play came from him on both sides of the floor as he was the perfect tempo maker for them. Martin will probably not develop into a high level prospect because of his limited size but he should be able to become a regular ACB player in the next years because of his understanding of the game, hustle and overall presence on the court.

Stats: 8.0ppg (42.9% 2FGs – 48.1% 3FGs), 2.3rpg, 4.6apg

Paolo Marinelli – 1m90 – PG – 1995 – Croatia

The heart and soul of the Croatian team was their PG Paolo Marinelli. Listed at 1m83 but certainly a bit taller (around 1m90), Marinelli was excelling when he could attack the basket with his great footwork. Capable of finishing in a multitude of ways out of a spin, pro-hop or euro-step, Marinelli was really crafty when he put the ball on the floor with his great first step. Additionally, he was very effective in his direction and speed changes that created so many gaps in the defense that he read well for the close scores.

Next to that, Marinelli set the speed of the Croatian offense really well and also found his big guys on multiple occasions, especially on the drive help situations. During the days in Riga, his three-point shot was not falling but Marinelli can be a serious threat from behind the arc. Additionally, he is a 90% free-throw shooter which is a key asset for a player that handles the ball as much as he does.

Stats: 11.0ppg (51.6% 2FGs – 20.7% 3FGs), 1.7rg, 4.2apg

Sandro Gacic – 1m96 – SG/PG – 1996 – Bosnia/Herzegovina

One of the younger guards in this selection, Sandro Gacic showed what kind of potential he is in the backcourt. Able to play both positions, Gacic struggled however to be a regular offensive threat for his Bosnian team. His shot is very fluid and he has a soft touch but he sometimes hesitates to actually shoot the ball. His overall fundamentals look good and he has a nice courtvision which makes him a potential future PG on the professional level. Defensively though, he needs to become tougher as he often gets stuck in picks and loses the control of his man. Nevertheless, Gacic can be considered as one of the better guard prospects of the 96 generation in Europe and we adding more experience, he should be able to develop into a really PG over the next years.

Stats: 8.1ppg (43.8% 2FGs – 28.6% 3FGs), 2.1rpg, 1.8apg

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