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U20 European Championship Division B Preview on Finland

July 14th, 2010 · No Comments

Our Finnish friend Hippo is always happy to share his thoughts on the prospects coming from the North. With the U20 European Championship of Division B starting today, Hippo has sent us his opinion on the Finnish team for the tournament in Austria.

First of all, here is the final version of Finnish U20 roster for the Division B games.

AHONEN Roope (187 cm – 1990 – Vilpas)
ALANEN Alexi (194 cm – 1991 – Lahti)
KORHONEN Juha (198 cm – 1990 – Lahti)
LINDBOM Carl (204 cm – 1991 – Honka)
MALINEN Niko (191 cm – 1990 – BC Jyväskylä)
NIEMI Jesse (193 cm – 1990 – Pyrintö)
NIKKARINEN Antto (185 cm – 1991 – Kouvot)
NUUTINEN Matti (200 cm – 1990 – Vilpas)
SALIN Sasu (190 cm – 1991 – Honka)
SANDBERG Mikael (209 cm – 1991 – ToPo)
TOIVONEN Lauri (200 cm – 1991 – Honka)
VIERTOLA Tuomas (193 cm – 1990 – FoKoPo)

And my (unofficial) list of the most interesting pro prospects in this team:

1. Sasu Salin, Honka
Pros: A natural born scorer and a deadly shooter once he gets it on. A very good offensive rebounder for his size, isn’t afraid of contact and seems to never get nervous.
Cons: Needs to improve his ballhandling, release and footwork. He can play defense, but loses 1-on-1 situations constantly when tired, mainly because lack of lateral quickness.

Sasu Salin was sidelined from national team games for the whole summer of 2009 because of injury. While Finland’s U20 team is preparing for Division B games, Salin has been extremely impressive, scoring at will, drawing lots of fouls and playing hard-nosed defense. Here’s a short statistical recap of Finnish u20 team’s preparation games:

  • June 19th at Bristol, UK: GBR-FIN 67-68 (30-35) – 21 pts
  • June 20th at Bristol, UK: GBR-FIN 82-72 (36-35) – 18 pts
  • July 3rd at Kandava, Latvia: LAT-FIN 54-67 (20-31) – 27 pts, 9rb, 4st, 10fouls drawn
  • July 3rd at Kandava, Latvia: LAT-FIN 87-83 (43-44) – 23 pts, 7rb
  • July 6th at Wladyslawowo, Poland: POL-FIN 77-90 (34-46) – 20 pts
  • July 7th at Wladyslawowo, Poland: POL-FIN 88-78 (47-37) – 18 pts

Even though we don’t have full boxscores from all the games, Sasu has been scoring 21,2 points a game and his field goal percentages have been hovering around 50% (2pt) and 38% (3pt).

Last season, Sasu averaged 9,2 points, 2,7 rebounds, 1,1 steals and 1,0 assists in 23,2 minutes a game with veteran-stacked Honka Playboys in Korisliiga, the highest level in Finland. Sasu also played 13 games with Honka Akatemia Division 1 (second highest level) team and averaged 17,3 points, 6,6 rebounds and 1,0 assists. Sasu drained 37,6% of his 3pt shots in Korisliiga and 43,5% in Division 1.

2. Carl Lindbom, Honka
Pros: A very good shooter with range. Can also finish from the low post. Once he gains upper body strength, he should be able to defend 4-spot well.
Cons: Serious lack of mobility and footwork. Might not be able to get his shot off against professional opponents. Doesn’t like to bang inside although his size (204 cm, ~98 kg and growing) requires it.

3. Roope Ahonen, Vilpas
Pros: Has been the starting combo guard of his Finnish League (Korisliiga) team for a season and a half now and has improved a lot during that time. Like Salin, a deadly shooter once he gets it going. He’s able to create his own shot even in traffic.
Cons: Hasn’t been committed to play defense. Showed improvement in that category last year but still didn’t perform very well. Can get easily frustrated after a couple of turnovers and missed shots and usually gets carried away in those situations. Needs to be faster.

Sleepers:
Antto Nikkarinen, Kouvot – a pure point guard who has a surprisingly physical game. Can hit open shots when needed. Very good in stints, but gets tired once he has to play big minutes and tends to dribble too much in those situations.

Lauri Toivonen, Honka – an NCAA coaches dream. A strong big man, who is committed in working as hard as possible. First at the gym and last to leave. Does pretty much everything right, which leads to rebounds, assists and steals, and also plays excellent defense. Also a vocal leader. Doesn’t really own an offensive game, though, and therefore is rather easy to defend 1-on-1. Also a bit of a tweener – more suitable for 4, but has to play 3.

Matti Nuutinen, Vilpas – A very interesting big man prospect, who is physically far ahead of everybody else in this age group. A really versatile offensive player when he wants to. Has been struggling with injuries last three seasons and has become too careful in that sense, not willing to take his own shot. Seems lazy in the defensive end.

Mikael Sandberg, ToPo – A 209cm big man who has been tutored by Hanno Möttölä throughout 2009/10 season. Sandberg has a smooth touch and can hit the shot from the outside. He’s also still growing, it’ll probably take 2-3 more years before he becomes physical enough to become a center. Lacks the toughness of a major post player and has rather short hands, so he takes less rebounds than a guy his size is supposed to. Anyway, he has the talent and motivation to become a good big man.

written by Hippo

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