European Prospects

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Xmas Tournament Kortrijk 2014: Day 1

December 27th, 2014 · No Comments

After staying overnight in Oostende, I took the short drive to Kortrijk for my first ever Xmas Tournament. This tournament is growing to one of the biggest events in Europe with about 100 teams involved in different youth categories. The main competition is the U19 Coca-Cola Invitational with 12 teams. The “Lange Munte” is a great location with two large courts and good crowd to support the young players. Let’s see what happened during the first day of the tournament.

In the first game, Oostende played against BBA Ludwigsburg and it was a tough one between two teams that played full court press during nearly the whole game. The Germans had some size advantage but the Belgians had probably the more creative players. After a lot of ups and downs with either team being up in the game, it was Ludwigsburg who looked like the winner in the final minutes. But Oostende’s leader Giel Vanthournout (27 points) brought his team back in the money time with a great drive and a perfect kickout pass for the open three. The overtime would be decided by a golden goal but Vanthournout missed two free-throws to seal the game. Milos Mandic was then the lucky one who scored a layup on an inbound play that gave the first victory to the German team here in Kortrijk.

The U19 team of Antwerp had not many problems to beat the Lithuanian squad from Atletas Kaunas. Ordane Kanda and Thomas Akyazili dominated at will against the physically overmatched Baltic team. Kanda finished with 37 points while Akyazili netted 6 three pointers for an easy win.

After a sloppy start, Northfield Mount Hermon took over the control against Ludwigsburg when they switched out their whole starting five after only 76 seconds in the game. When the Germans dominated with their size against Oostende, it was now a different story as the big guys from the US were reigning in the paint so that it was really tough for Ludwigsburg to get to the basket. NMH continued to dominate throughout the second half and gave Ludwigsburg no possibility to come back.

The game between the Belgian U18 National Team and GBA Academy was quite intensive. The Belgians had to play with only guards and forwards while the Czech team had a clear advantage in the paint. However the game remained tight with Ervins Meznieks (23 points) and David Pekarek (23 points) being the main scorers for GBA while Sigfredo Casero (18 points) was the top scorer for the Belgians. Belgium nearly closed the gap in the final seconds but Meznieks in a pure leader role took over and scored the necessary points to give his team a first win during the tournament.

The Belgrade selection won their second game of the event against the Finnish team Namika Lahti. The Serbians have probably the deepest roster with several players being capable to have major roles. On the Finnish side, most of the scoring came from Aapeli Alanen (27pts) and Arttu Saarijärvi who attacked the basket constantly or scored from behind the arc. Belgrade though was more present in the paint especially through 1997 born Ivan Bojanic. Their do-it-all guard Slobodan Jovanovic was the main option to qualify his team for the second round.

Antwerpen finally won their second game of the day but it was a lot more difficult this time. USK Future Stars had the lead until the third quarter when the Belgians had their run, driven once again by Akyazili and Kanda who were however less dominant than against Kaunas. Nevertheless, it was enough for them to win their group.

x-Mas Tournament – Game of the day – Saturday from tom on Vimeo.

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