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U20 European Championship (Division A): the Wings

August 16th, 2008 · No Comments

After the Guards, the next step will be the coverage of the most outstanding forwards of the tournament.

Mladen Jeremic (1m95  – Small Forward – 1988 – Serbia)

Jeremic was probably the best pure shooter of the whole tournament, only being matched in this category by Martynas Gecevicius from Lithuania. But Jeremic had a different role in his team where he was not the first scoring option. First of all, Jeremic was mostly the guy that had the special defensive roles of his team in order to stop the opposing scoring guards.

On the offensive end, most of his scores came from his perfect three point shots. His picture perfect shooting mechanics helped to him to score either in catch-and-shot fashion or even coming of his own dribble.

Marko Keselj (2m09 – Forward – 1988 – Serbia)

Keselj was the man of the Final. He had the plays that gave Serbia the decisive lead in the game. After his nice season in Germany, he developed now his full potential and should be ready for the higher level from next season on. Keselj is a super long forward with excellent basketball fundamentals and correct athleticism. He showed this with 2 great dunks in the Final game.

Despite he big size, he looks very coordinated and under control. He does also the little stuff which you normally don’t see but gives your team a small advantage like the hustle steal or taking a charge. He was clearly the main option for Serbia when the inside game did not work and with his nice shooting he could open up the court for the inside guys to do their job. For me, he was the MVP of the Final.

Lukas Brazdauskis (2m05 – Forward – 1988 – Lithuania)

Lukas Brazdauskis was one of the interesting surprises for me during the tournament. The Lithuanian forward, that plays a lot in the shadow of super talent Donatas Motiejunas was the key player for the Silver Medal run of Lithuania. With his strong defense on Victor Claver in the semis and his all-around game, he fills up the stat sheet without doing special things and highlight plays.

He has a good presence in the rebound where he tries to go for every ball while he can also muscle on bigger opponents defending them in the low post. Offensively, he showed a nice variety in his game coming of with some good drives but also with long range three pointers. Shots which he takes in a perfect position and is not unstable due to approaching defenders. He may lack a bit of physical presence to play already a role on the top senior level though.

Victor Claver (2m08 – Forward – 1988 – Spain)

The athletic wing from Spain was not really the go-to-guy you could hope him to be. After a preparation with the senior team, Claver only joined the U20 team a few days before the European Championship and so his non-integration in the plays if not a surprise. However, you could await a bit more from a player that has already impact minutes in the ACB. At the end, he goes home with a deserved Bronze medal but a non-deserved All-Tournament team spot.

Coming to his actual playing, Claver had to play as PF most of the time because of the lack of size of the Spanish team. He used his speed and footwork to beat several times his opponents of the dribble coming from the top. He has excellent control over his moves he goes for and he can also go for some nice passes outof his drives. The three point range is there but all in all, he is not a player I really liked in what he showed. But he is definitely one of the top prospects in Europe for the 1988 generation.

Baris Hersek (2m05 – Forward – 1988 – Turkey)

Baris Hersek could have been in the All-Tournament team in Riga as he deserved the spot at least as much as Claver. The Turkish Forward was the go-to-guy of his team and led them to the semi-finals with his strong play. Hersek has nice size and huge body for the SF spot on this level and he used this advantages several times in order to score close to the basket.

But he is really more a player, that likes to get the ball outside the three point line and create. He holds always a very large position that makes it difficult for players to take the ball away from him. On his drives, he uses his wide frame to protect himself and create space in order to finish in the paint. He has good three point range and can also go for some difficult running jump shots. Unfortunately for him, he missed out the game for the Bronze medal and could not lead his team to a third place.

Vladimir Dasic (2m08 – Forward – 1988 – Montenegro)

Save the best for last, this is how I could describe the placement of Vladimir Dais in this post. The Montenegrin forward continued what he has shown in the Reebok Camp in Treviso earlier this summer. An all-around play with great scoring, team-leading and success. A 5th place for Montenegro is of course way too high in the international competition and if you take Dasic out, the team would probably play for the relegation.

Whatever, Dasic was one of the most talented players of the whole tournament. After a poor season in Buducnost, the forward put all his energy in his summer and showcased his immense talent. He can either play with his back to the basket if he gets defended by a smaller player or take the game outside. His jumpshot looks close to perfection in terms of mechanics and he nets it with high precision. He has himself under perfect control and can go for complicated direction changes in the drives.

His ball handling is very good for a player of his size, and he can also go fro excellent passes to his cutting team mates. He recognizes the game situations very well and never forces the game despite being the go-to-guy. Rebounding is not the strongest part of his game but he was however always present in the battles under the rim. We will see how he will do next season but with his showing here in Riga, he should be among the top players of the upcoming Adriatic League.

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