Top 5 Performers
LAURI Markkanen (PF, Finland, 22-May-1997, Arizona)
The tournament headliner. Just simply delivered without making a big deal about it. Averaged close to a point per minute (24.9 PPG in 26.5 MPG). Markkanen is indefensible in pick and pop, where he drills the triple or attacks off the catch. Effective iso scorer. 3rd in transition PPG (5.3) on 1.682 PPP, according to Synergy Sports. Dominant performance. He’s tough, rebounds, defends, absorbs contact. Never complained, just played. Markkanen is a once-in-a-generation talent and has the competitive mindset to go along with it. Still wasn’t enough to save Finland from relegation.
SANTIAGO Yusta (SF, Spain, 28-Apr-1997, OBRADOIRO)
Battle-tested ACB rotation player. Had an average tournament for his standards but still made a real difference with his slashing, transition attacking, defense. Attacks the close out, cuts well off ball. Lets the game come to him, doesn’t force. Plays a team game. 5th in PPG at the rim (3.7) amongst non-bigs. Took turns with Francisco Alonso to guard the opponent’s main ballhandler. On-ball defender might be his best defensive role. Is long, mobile, disrupts.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (SF, Ukraine, 10-Jun-1997, Kansas)
Had exciting 1-2 minute stretches where he made big weak side plays on defense and immediately attacked in transition. Helsinki’s most athletic & active wing defender. 2nd in transition PPG (5.4). 2nd amongst non-bigs in finishing at the rim (4.6 PPG; 53.3 FG%). Exciting in open court, ineffective in half court. Bricked jumper after jumper. Shot 4/24 in catch and shoot situations and 4/20 off the dribble (those numbers undersell his shooting ability). Is able to create separation when on the ball. Slender frame but beginning to fill out. There’s a lot of translatable skill in his game. Still very young; will still be 20 when he finishes his college career at Kansas.
MATEJ Svoboda (SF, CZECH REPUBLIC, 22-Sep-1996, CEZ NYMBURK)
Spectacular individual tournament. Averaged 19-7-2 playing either forward spot; 2nd in scoring. Is flat-out skilled, but is a middle-of-the-pack athlete who doesn’t possess outstanding burst. Best in transition and operating off the catch in half court, less effective when he needs to create separation on his own. Best when assisted. Off-screen, hand-off, he gets his feet set expertly and drills the three. Averaged 5.6 PPG on catch and shoot plays (41.9 FG%, 62.9 eFG%). Led the U20s in transition PPG at 5.4. Had by far the highest DRB% amongst wings (25.6). Below par in iso possessions. Possesses very good footwork on finishes and a high ball IQ; really lets the game come to him and picks his spots methodically. Smart close out attacker. There’s a lot of smoothness & finesse in Svoboda’s game. Showed good intangibles as a teammate/communicator.
Marc Garcia (SF, Spain, 7-Mar-1996, SEVILLA)
Didn’t show anything we hadn’t seen before, but he did make more shots than usual. Had been hanging in the low 30% FG area in previous tournaments but drilled 51.4% (71.4 eFG%) of his jump shots in Helsinki. Led the tournament in off-screen PPG (4.4 on 2.7 possessions). Dropped 21 on Lithuania to win MVP. Known for his quality footwork, shooting mechanics and touch. Often a step short from going all the way on off-catch dribble drives. Doesn’t create separation himself. Added some weight but still slender frame. A lack of intangibles is still a major obstacle to pro success.
Edvinas Rupkus (SF/SG, Lithuania, 8-Feb-1996, Skidmore – NCAA D3)
Division 3 you say? Was one of Helsinki’s top glue guys. Defending, diving to the floor, talking, high-fiving, playing his heart out. Worked his tail off in Lithuania’s switch-heavy D. Solid/mature body. Averaged 6.3 PPG in 18:02 MPG. Went 6/13 from 3 and occasionally attacked the rim. Role player on offense but certainly no liability.
Zigmars Raimo (PF, Latvia, 14-Nov-1997, Hawai’i)
Difficult tournament for Raimo, who set a bunch of bone-crushing screens but, as one of the youngest bigs in Helsinki, wasn’t as much a physical force as he’d been on U18-level. Still a poor finisher.
- Samuli Nieminen (SF/PF, Finland, 24-Aug-1996, Stephen F. Austin)
- Remu Raitanen (PF, Finland, 21-Aug-1997, San Francisco)
- Joonas Tahvanainen (PF, Finland, 16-Apr-1996, Utah Valley)
- Illia Antonenko (PF, Ukraine, 16-Mar-1997, Salt Lake Community College)
- Tomas Murphy (PF, Finland, 1-Jul-1998, Northeastern)
Vlatko Cancar (SF, Slovenia, 10-Apr-1997, MEGA LEKS)
A typically intriguing yet unassertive Cancar performance. Played 3 and 4 but is a legit small forward thanks to his on-ball skills. Finished 14th in PPG (13.6). His off-dribble jumper is legit and there is noone better in Euro junior basketball at stopping, shot-faking and then elevating for a contested 2 with the defender all over him: advanced shot-making. Unselfish and passed the ball well. Had a bunch of athletic help-side blocks but often pushed around in on-the-ground battles. Frame/core strength still below average.
Stefan Lazarevic (PF, Serbia, 20-Aug-1996, FMP)
Was part of a below-standard Serbian roster that, unlike e.g. Lithuania, wasn’t better than the sum of its parts. Played four the entire week; averaged 10.9 PPG and finished 8th in DRB%. Rugged in-between combo forward who is more post- than perimeter ballhandler. Doesn’t have a set position and possesses a below-par jumper but is the type of physical, versatile worker who earns himself a rotation spot no matter what.
Regimantas Miniotas (PF, Lithuania, 14-Mar-1996, VYTAUTAS)
Personal favourite. Main communicator/organiser in the Lithuanian defense. Slender power forward who made a lot of smart basketball plays on both ends and owned the defensive glass (33.3 DRB%). Rebounding, talking, deflecting post feeds, quick execution on on- and off-ball switches — you name it. Smart and occasionally flashy passer but not much of a dribbler. Best when assisted. Has a non-textbook jumper that he makes at a decent clip. A half court player who lacks speed/ballhandling; had zero transition points in the U20s.
Gaber Ozegovic (SG/SF, Slovenia, 7-Feb-1998, Sixt Primorska)
Two U16s, two U18s, one U20, all in significant roles: Ozegovic is putting miles in as a junior national team player. Had a strong showing as the tournament’s 6th youngest athlete. Slender on-ball/off-ball wing who scored on smart cuts and well-timed drives. Was unable to create separation one-on-one and in ball screen situations, but has two years to catch up athletically. High effort level on D.
Vanja Marinkovic (SG/SF, Serbia, 9-Jan-1997, PARTIZAN)
Struggled to make shots he usually makes, going 9/43 in catch and shoot situations. Has certainly improved attacking the basket off the catch over the last couple years, but remains completely ineffective in ball screen situations.
Ignas Fiodorovas (SF, Lithuania, 1-Mar-1996, Pieno Zvaigzdes)
Had merely played RKL A (Division 3) in Lithuania coming to Helsinki but emerged as one of the tournament’s better wing athletes. Had a lesser role in the beginning but dropped 17 on Turkey in the semis and 13 on Spain in the final. Not a shot creator but is a smooth lefty ballhandler who attacks in transition and off the catch and drills the three ball when left open. Got after it on the defensive end. Potential isn’t sky-high but was one of the tournament’s surprise performers.
Sergey Pavlov (PF, Ukraine, 18-Jul-1997, Khimik)
Seriously improved over last summer. Averaged 12.6 PPG. Has good footwork and tremendous touch inside, likes reverse finishes, uses either hand. A versatile roll/pop four with legit post skills like Paulius Jankunas is the model to mold his game after for Pavlov, but he’s not a natural banger and is only starting to play more physically. Didn’t rebound the ball well at all (9.4 TRB%). Still: steep learning curve.
Jan Wimberg (PF, GERMANY, 11-Feb-1996, OLDENBURG)
Former U16 Euros All-Tournament selection who looks like a real player, teases with highlight-reel finishes, weak side blocks and long range bombs but is frustrating as a decision-maker and competitor. 7th in BLK% (7.1), drilled 50% of his triples, but had long stretches where he was lethargic and getting outhustled. Is fairly jumpshot-dependent.
Okben Ulubay (SF/PF, Turkey, 25-May-1996, DARÜSSAFAKA)
The former U16 Eurobasket MVP played power forward most of the time, though a very perimeter-oriented version. Positional technicalities aside, it was more of the same from Ulubay, who showed his talent as a passer and ballhandler and had the occasional athletic defensive play but had an error-prone week, failed to punish from long range and had minimal impact on the game. Finished the U20s on 5.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.0 APG.
Verners Kohs (PF/SF, Latvia, 21-May-1997, GBA)
A rare off-screen four who has the footwork and mechanics to catch, set and launch. 4th in off-screen PPG (3.7 points on 2.3 attempts per game), 2nd behind Svoboda in catch and shoot PPG (6.4; 48.4%, 72.6 eFG%). Kohs’ jump shot is a weapon and he does put the ball on the floor off the catch, but gets yanked from lineups for a lack of defense, toughness, rebounding. Finished the tournament with a dismal 8.6 TRB%.
Defense & Intangibles
Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot (SF/PF, France, 1-Aug-1996, Paris-Levallois)
Combo forward who played the four in Finland. Was constantly in foul trouble (3.6 FPG, 2nd in U20s) but went after it on defense, moving feet, getting deflections, switching well on guards and contesting shots. Long, fairly athletic wing player with a good frame but mediocre skill level and decision-making.
Luis Figge (SG/SF, Germany, 2-Jun-1997, BRaunschweig)
Strong, gritty 3-and-D wing who plays his heart out. Aggressive no-nonsense player. Had a huge help side block on Sima. Unselfish in close out situations; passes up a good shot for an even better one. Not a creator: struggled in PnR situations and dealing with full court press.