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U20 European Championships (Division A): the Big guys

August 18th, 2008 · No Comments

After the wings and the guards, I finally come to the big men. And despite having them in just smaller number here in my report, the talent level is extremely high for these young men.

Milan Macvan (2m05 – Power Forward – 1989 – Serbia)

Milan Macvan was a legit MVP candidate and should have been voted into the All-Tournament team at least. The Serbian Power Forward, despite being one year younger than most of the players in Riga was probably the most impressive player when it comes to his talent. Macvan, who is now even larger than one year ago, has an incredible all-around basketball talent, but unfortunately limits its own potential by his physical shape and athleticism.

When it comes to scoring, Macvan can do it all. Playing in the post, he can conclude with a perfect fade away jump shot which he nets with great accuracy. He can also muscle down against weaker opponents, something that won’t work anymore on the senior level. His shooting range however goes out until the three point line from where he can drop three pointers without problems. Playing outside, he can also use his great passing precision and court vision to play the high-low plays with his center. The downside is of course his relative unathletic appearance. He struggles to defend faster forwards as his lateral speed is average and he can not go for block shots either. With his physical presence, he is however a strong rebounder where he shows his above average basketball IQ in placements and timing.

Miroslav Raduljica (2m10 – Center – 1988 – Serbia)

The MVP of the competition has improved dramatically since his mediocre showing in last year’s U19 World Championship. Being physically extremely dominant on this level, Raduljica impresses also with great precision in his moves and good positioning. His presence in the paint was unmatched and with an improving technique, he should make a big move on the Senior level next season.

Still, Raduljica mostly scored out of physical dominance than going for some quality back to the basket moves. He scored several times on jump hooks but lived a lot from crashing the offensive glass and good dishes by his team mates. He showed also correct explosivity and goes for dunks when there is the possibility. Going to the FT line is not a problem for him as he nets more than 70% of his close to 7 attempts per game. His presence in rebound is impressive though as he knows how to protect the ball well and with his correct athleticism, not a lot of contestation is there. A domain to improve though is his shot blocking where he is not particularly present.

Donatas Motiejunas (2m14 – Power Forward – 1990 – Lithuania)

The youngest player of the competition was probably also the most talented. The Lithuanian forward, that already competed in the U18 competition before joining his team in Riga showed once again why he is considered as the biggest talent of the European 1990 generation behind Ricky Rubio. Motiejunas combination of size and skills is unmatched in Europe at the moment and the big minutes he is promised to get next season in Lithuania on the Senior level should help him to develop into a fantastic prospect.

The problem with Donatas, I speak of up-and-down performances and frustration, could not be seen in Riga during the games I attended. Both times, he led the team with his versatile scoring possibilities by either beating his opponents of the dribble or by posting them up and finishing on his nice jump hooks. He mixes his offense with some three point shots which he could not connect though. Still, Motiejunas has to work on his rebounding and to get tougher in his mind in order to make the maximum out of his current talent. Seeing a 7 footer run and play like him is not that common.

You can not talk about the big guys of this competition without mentioning Boban Marjanovic. Being listed at a surprising 2m11 by FIBA Europe, Big Bobby is closer to the 2m22 announced by his team of Vrsac. Marjanovic may still have some trouble to run the court at high speed, when he is placed close to the paint and getting the ball from dishes, nobody can stop him. With his huge hands, he dunks the ball over every opposition and he is not afraid to to so. With his terrific size, Marjanovic is very present in shot blocking and with his surprising quick arms, he can come up with some surprising moves.

There were some other big men that should have been part of this coverage but because of the limited number of games I could attend, I won’t come up here with a report about them.

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