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U18 European Championship Division B Preview on Finland

July 20th, 2010 · No Comments

As the readers of europeanprospects.com already know, Finland’s U18 team has been able to practice with one of the best coaches available this summer: Frankfurt Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert. Hippo gave us his preview on the main players for the U18 team that will compete from Thursday in the U18 European Championship of Division B in Tel Aviv.

“Gordie” and his group of talented young guns has travelled all the way to Tel Aviv this Tuesday to prepare for the Division B games that tip off this Thursday. Like Gordie said in a basket.fi interview, U18 age group is probably the hardest to evaluate because some kids have been the stars of their teams since 7 years old and some are late bloomers, but here’s a brief take on the players to watch on Finnish team.

Team roster

CATO Kilian (201 cm – 1992 – Honka)
DOLENC Daniel (204 cm – 1993 – EBT Espoo)
HEINIKOSKI Joel (183 cm – 1992 – ToPo)
HEINONEN Osku (194 cm – 1992 – Pyrintö)
HERBERT Mikael (201 cm – 1993 – Kouvot)
HUOLILA Tommi (197 cm – 1993 – Vilpas)
KOPIO Villematti (182 cm – 1992 – Honka)
KOSKINEN Aleksi (182 cm – 1992 – LrNMKY)
MARTTINEN Miikka (195 cm – 1992 – Pyrintö)
MOLENIUS Markus (203 cm – 1992 – FoKoPo)
NAAPI Kalle (187 cm – 1993 – Honka)
VAENERBERG Alex (183 cm – 1992 – Pyrintö)

Yet another (unofficial) list of the most interesting prospects in this team:

1. Daniel Dolenc, EBT
Pros: A strong, old-school back to the basket player. Athletic, smart and willing to learn. A good rebounder. Coached by Finnish national team veteran power forward Sakari Pehkonen for years, so he has both intangibles and fundamentals.
Cons: Doesn’t get enough physical challenge playing in Finnish junior leagues, since he is probably the strongest player on court every game – hasn’t played in adult leagues yet. Can get uneasy playing against stronger centers. Despite good footwork and pivot moves, Dolenc is limited offensively.

2. Osku Heinonen, Pyrintö
Pros: Tremendous basketball IQ. A fast and reliable shooter, can hit several difficult long range shots in a row and also drive to the hole. A “mini-me” of Dirk Nowitzki. Strong upper body and good work ethics. Usually does good things on the court (passing, screens etc.) even when his shot isn’t falling.
Cons: Needs foot quickness and lower body strength. Even though Heinonen works hard, athleticism is an issue to be solved. Like Dolenc, Heinonen hasn’t played in adult leagues yet and he desperately needs minutes against bigger, stronger opponents.

3. TIE: Markus Molenius, FoKoPo
Pros: Can absolutely take over the game, no matter how bad he has played before. End of last week Molenius shot 0-5 field goals and had 3 TOs in first three quarters of the game against Estonia, but had 16 points (3x3pt, 2xand1’s), two steals and a key block in the fourth quarter. Can play both inside and outside.
Cons: When Molenius looks bad, he looks completely disinterested and out of the game, making rookie mistakes repeatedly. Gambles too much on defense, leaving his man open trying to block a shot or steal the ball. While he can take the game over in only minutes, he can also disappear quickly. Isn’t too good of a rebounder for his size.

3. TIE: Mikael Herbert, Kouvot
Pros: Herbert is a natural – good hands, good positioning, good shot, good size. Has basketball in his genes (son of the coach). A late bloomer, who has been playing basketball seriously for only two years. His club coach is a guy who is willing to develop young players, so Herbert should have a bright future in basketball.
Cons: Has been playing basketball seriously for only two years, so he is extremely raw and unpolished. Lacks both upper and lower body strength and his footwork is average. Still growing into his body and gets fatigued easily.

Sleepers:
Kilian Cato, Honka – One of the strongest, most athletic guys in the group. Runs the floor very well for a big man, sets effective screens and bangs the boards. His passing and defense need a lot of work and he’s virtually incapable of scoring on 1-on-1 situations near the basket; scores on tip-ins, back doors and free 3pt shots.

Villematti Kopio, Honka – Has been the best scorer of 1992 Finnish age group these past years. An extremely reliable shooter once he gets it going. Size is an issue, though: Kopio is a natural SG who has to play PG even though his ball handling is average. His shot release is slow, so he might not get his shots up at all against good defensive players. Unable to defend bigger guys.

Kalle Naapi, Honka – Hasn’t been playing a big role in this year’s national team, but still able to bring in good things for this team. A slasher/scorer, good passer and a pretty good defensive player. An athletic guy, but not very strong physically. Tends to disappear once he loses his self confidence and needs to develop a better shot.

written by Hippo

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