European Prospects

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NIJT L’Hospitalet 2011 (Day 1 live)

January 4th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Today started the 32nd edition of the Torneo de Basquet Junior Ciutat de Hospitalet. The tournament can  be considered as one of the major events of the Youth Basketball Calendar and generally features a large amount of talent. Next to the local Spanish forces, the presence of quality teams from abroad gives the event an international flavor. With the structure of the Nike International Junior Tournament Qualification, l’Hospitalet has become a important place for any competitive Junior Club Team.

FC Barcelona – Khimki Moscow 94 – 87

After having arrived in the gym only during the second half, FC Barcelona was already up by double digits behind the creativity and scoring talent of their 1994 born PG Josep Perez. But the Russian team started an incredible comeback with 2m00 tall SF Alexander Zakharov going hot from behind the (6m25) 3pt arc. However, Perez came up with a Navarro-esque floater from the top in a crucial moment to bring the lead back to 6 with 1min30 to go. Zakharov scored on the other side on the cut with the foul and we had a one-basket-game at 87-84. Perez scored only one FT and Zakharov hit the incredible three to have a 1-point difference. Barcelona could not take a shot in the shot clock to give Khimki the ball with 33 seconds left. The refs then went for a palming violation on the drive of Denis Levshin, an incredible call for such an important moment of the game. Perez scored twice on the FT line afterwards to give the Russians a last chance with 21 seconds left. Barcelona did not go for the foul but tried to defend Zakharov hard and got the ball back on an illegal screen call by the referees. Lluis Costa scored two additional free-throws  and Khimki could not hit their desperate long-distance shot and the game was done. The end had some bitter taste though as the referees went for two very hard calls against Khimki in the decisive moments.

Stats: Josep Perez (Barcelona) 24pts 5asts 5tos 22rkg – Alexander Zakharov (Khimki) 25pts 6rebs 3stls 20rkg

Real Madrid – CB L’Hospitalet 98 – 62

The Whites from the Spanish Capital started strong into the game but the locals reduced the gap with several three-pointers at the end of the first quarter. Madrid however started the 2nd quarter with better defense and several scores in the paint where they used their superior size and athleticism. This gave them guys around the athletic swingman Modou Mbaye a large advantage at half-time with 51-32. The third quarter continued with the domination of Real and the game was of no particular interest when the locals were trailing 51-77 before the last 10 minutes. The last quarter did not show anything special either and Real earned their first victory of the tournament.

Stats: Modou Mbaye (Real Madrid) 12pts 12rebs 18rkg

Joventut Badalona – Cedevita Zagreb

The Catalans started well into the game with a difficult basket of Albert Homs but the team from Zagreb replied in the paint and took an early lead on a Karlo Lebo dunk at 4-12. But the athletic Croat got called a third foul already after 6 minutes and had to step out. At that moment, Joventut brought their tallest asset on the court with 2m27 big Bienvenue Letuni who immediately scored his first basket. With the Croats getting called on every touch (7-1 fouls after 8 minutes), Joventut reduced the gap to 17-18 at the 1st break. Joventut took the lead in the 2nd quarter but the game remained close with the good efforts of 1994 inside player Zvonimir Cutuk for Cedevita and the accelerations of Guillem Vives on the Penya side. Zagreb had to deal with foul trouble though as the referees were calling a lot in favor of Joventut. But in the end of the first half, also Cedevita stepped to the free-throw line some times in order to create a small lead at 30-23 after a three-pointer by the left handed 1995 born Dorijan Jelenek. Cedevita went even up 34-23 on the great inside presence of Filip Bundovic but the pathetic refereeing gave him a fourth foul on a fantastic hand-off-fake where he received an offensive grab-around foul. When Homs then scored a layup on the break over Lebo who got his fourth foul as well, the game was close again at 32-34 with 5 minutes to go in the third quarter. But Martin Junakovic split the defense to find Luka Saric in the paint for the Croatian score and the foul. Dominik Herendic added another +1 play for the very young Croats and the lead was up to 6 again. Homs showed now why he has seen already ACB minutes and held his team in the game. But even with their star guard on the bench for some short rest, the Greens remained close at 39-42 before the last 10 minutes. The last quarter started with a hard foul on Junakovic that was violently contested by the Joventut bench. Homs scored a triple to get the lead for the first time since the 2nd quarter and Anton Regal did the same to put the score to 49-44. Bundovic came back to the court and immediately scored 2 points from the free-throw line. But Joventut went hot from behind the arc and increased the lead even to 56-49. The Croats seemed to be exhausted physically and Homs scored another triple to make it a double-digit difference. Saric and Mustapic kept Cedevita alive despite the 5th foul of Bundovic and they had to go for some stop-the-clock with 35 seconds left. But it was already too late and Joventut got their first win of the tournament in a hard-fought contest.

Stats: Albert Homs (Joventut Badalona) 20pts (8/23 FGs) 2rebs 2stls 2asts 10rkg, Guillem Vives (Badalona) 14pts 4rebs 13rkg – Luka Saric (Cedevita Zagreb) 10pts 9rebs 2asts 1blk 17rkg

NB: Rasmus Larsen, the Danish top prospect has been invited by DKV Joventut but was not allowed to play because of a new rule that does not allow anymore the loans of players from other federations. Larsen made the trip to Barcelona though and watched the game from the stands with his family.

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Catalana Occident Manresa – Zalgiris Kaunas 62-76

Manresa had a good start on a three-pointer by Marcus Eriksson but from that moment on, the Lithuanian machine started with Tauras Jogela slamming down two emphatic dunks on the tip-in and the break to put the score to 8-5. The game was not on a great level and several calls by the referees did not help either. Zalgiris managed though to be up 15-9 after the first ten minutes after a nice play initiated by Marius Grigonis who split the defense with a spin and perfect pass for the Simas Raupys +1 score. Raupys started well into the 2nd quarter as well with a nice assist to Simonas Kymantas and the lead was up to 20-9. Zalgiris continued to score on the break while Eriksson was the main offensive option for the Spanish team that came back to 23-27. But Zalgiris increased the lead a bit again on the way to the halftime but they were stopped by two discussable calls on their last 2 offenses. This gave Manresa to score a last bucket on the half-time buzzer to bring the score to 29-34. The third quarter featured not much to speak about except maybe the continuing discussable calls against the non-Spanish teams. Zalgiris was dominating largely stat-wise (48-18 in Ranking) but they were up just 4 points at that moment. Being called about 3 offensive fouls in a row must be frustrating but Jogela had the right answer with an emphatic alley-oop slam for the 39-45 lead. Jogela played a lot on the PF position using his wider body and above average athletic abilities. The advantage of the Lithuanians grew slowly and Kaspars Vecvagars nailed the three to start the last ten minutes at 42-57. Eriksson got some support on the offensive end from Ferran Huerta and Adria Sala and Manresa could cut the deficit to single-digits with less than three minutes on the clock. But Zalgiris did not let the Spanish come back and brought the victory home.

Stats: Marcus Eriksson (Manresa) 23pts (4/10 3FGs) 5rebs 23rkg – Tauras Jogela (Zalgiris Kaunas) 19pts 9rebs 25rkg

FC Barcelona – Real Madrid 75 – 67

The “classico” of Spanish sports also had its version on the floor of the Nike International Junior Tournament in L’Hospitalet. And it were the Catalans than got an early lead behind some scores on the fast-break by Lluis Costa and Josep Perez. The time-out of Real did not really help and Perez and Costa continued their dribble and drive show to increase to the lead up to 20-6. This difference remained until the end of the first quarter where Madrid cut the lead a bit with Modou Mbaye on the break for 27-17 after 10 minutes. The 2nd quarter looked a bit similar in the beginning with Barcelona mainly scoring on the break with Costa, Perez and Daniel Martinez while Madrid had to work on set plays to get a basket. And it was Costa that came up with a big play catching the pass to put the ball immediately behind his back and score the triple for a 15 point lead. After that, Barcelona started to start the highlight reel with some spectacular plays from Perez on the crazy assist and Nacho Marin on the spectacular drive. The score at halftime was 51-30. Daniel Diez started the 3rd quarter with 4 points for Real combined with an airball three-pointer but he showed that Madrid did not give up. Diez scored a couple more baskets but the lead remained around 20 points in favor of the Catalans at 62-44 before the last quarter. Once again the better start into the quarter came from the side of the Whites and the deficit could be reduced to 13 with minutes on the clock on a Mbaye three-point shot. Diez cut even bring Real back to 11 with a difficult fast break layup but Costa scored on the other side to go back for +13. Diez continued his 2nd half show with a triple but it was too late to come back.

Stats: Lluis Costa (Barcelona) 13pts 4rebs 3stls 4asts 17rkg – Daniel Diez (Real Madrid) 20pts 9rebs 7tos 16rkg

N.B.: Alexander Zhigulin and Nick Spires both did not play for FC Barcelona today and will not compete either in the rest of the tournament. Zhigulin has some back problems and the doctors said that he can not play at the moment while Spires has still to recover from his knee problems.

Khimki Moscow – L’Hospitalet

The Russian team had the better start into this last game of Day1. Maksim Chislov was the main offensive option for Khimki in thee first quarter with 7pts after 5 minutes. The score did not move that much with Hospitalet struggling to score the basketballbut the Russians not doing much better. After 10 minutes, Khimki was however up 21-13. The Latvian forward Elvis Saulitis made a nice appearance on court with 2pts 1stl and 8rebs in just 7 minutes. However, the game was not really of great level and the Spaniards were not able to cut the lead significantly to reach a halftime result of 37-29.

As the game was not of major interest, I left the gym at halftime.

Leaving at halftime was the right choice when I watch the Final Score.

The infrastructure

Even if this tournament has a long tradition, it is however important to mention that the infrastructure is not really up to date. Next to the typical local refereeing, the game clock had problems during several games not showing the score, the 24s or the game time or even all three together. Additionally, the gym did not feature the new marks on the court which is in my opinion not excusable for such an important event. In the self-declared City of Sports and Euroleague “capital”, it is strange that this tournament can not be played with the currently applicable rules and on-court lines.

NB: Spanish people informed me that in Spain, the youth competitions are still playing with the old marks. That’s the reason why this is also the case in the tournament. This is however still strange as the LEB Gold used the new lines already one year earlier and the youth competitions go one year later. …

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stevan // Jan 6, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Hey Christophe,

    Are the rules also valid for junior competitions?
    I dont think so. I had the impression and remember reading somewhere, that they were only introduced for the “adult high level competition”.

    Can you put light in the shade?

  • 2 Christophe // Jan 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I was told that the Spanish Youth Leagues still play with the old rules. I don’t know if that is the case in other countries as well. For example in Italy, there are the new rules and the NIJT in Rome has been played with the new rules and lines on the court

  • 3 Boris // Jan 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    In Croatia they play with new rules

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