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Eurohopes Basketball Prospects | PROSPECTS AROUND EUROPE I
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Prospects around Europe (I)
By Kostas Psimoulis
Last week I had the chance to watch on tape Swyatoslav Mykhailiuk’s last two games with Cherkasy's senior team. Mykhailiuk -at the pic- is a regular member of the first team thus he would be getting solid minutes throughout the season. Even though he lacks experience and a man's body, Mykhailiuk ('97) is a great athlete by the European standards with a strong and developed frame for his age.

In the first game against Galichina, I saw a skill I had not seen at the European Championship in Kiev because of the different role he had on Ukraine's team. Mykhailiuk showed that he is a capable shooter with his feet set having an extremely quick release on his shot. Moreover, there is not a "should-I-shoot-it" dilemma in his mind, he is that confident. I am sure he thinks he can make every shot he takes. In Kiev, he was not able to showcase that skill because he was getting an incredible amount of touches, while attracting high attention from defenses. Now, as a youngster, he is playing mostly away from the ball having the chance to be more effective with fewer touches. In the second game against BC Kyiv, for the Ukrainian cup, his coach chose to play him just 12 minutes, preferring to rely more on experienced guys. Mykhailiuk still hit his first shot, a spot-up three from the left wing. Getting first-team minutes is a rare thing among '97 born players, but if there is someone who has the skill and physical package to achieve it, is probably him.

•    Partizan NIS gave a good fight against Barcelona for the first Euroleague game of its season. Leo Westermann ended the game with 10 points, 3 assists and 3 turnovers in 34 minutes. Westermann ('92) has started the season really well, putting up great performances in the ABA League. However, there is a thing he is not doing at a high level now thus he's got to improve that if he wants to be a great point guard at the highest competition level. He is a smart and talented passer, but against good defensive schemes, he needs to make defenses moving in order to open up passing lanes for good looks on the perimeter. He lacks quickness and explosiveness thus he struggles to beat either the retreating / hedging big man on PNRs or the guard who's following him over the screen. Without the ability to get into the lane consistently, he will be doing the simple, non-creative pass, to the first available teammate, most of the time. With a better use of his speeds, he may manage to shake defenders, earning a step or two and getting into the lane.


•    Agusti Sans ('95) made his ACB debut on Sunday against FC Barcelona. The '95-year born guard, who shined last year as a member of Joventut's Junior team (which managed to dominate every tournament it participated in), saw playing time (13 minutes) in a challenging game, leaving promising signs of how he is capable of contributing as a member of senior team. Sans entered the game with almost six minutes left in the second quarter, and almost immediately he started an impressive sequence of defensive plays; on the first defensive possession he used his quick hands well, stealing the ball with his left hand the time Jacob Pullen tried to pass it to an open teammate. That steal led to a transition basket for Fiat Joventut. When Sans’ team got back on defense, he managed to stay in front of Pullen, who was wasting many seconds dribbling around, and when he took the decision to attack the basket he found his floater blocked by Sans' right hand. Few possessions later, Sans challenged two more passes attempted by Barcelona's players thanks to his length, size and smarts. Coaches always love seeing a 19-year-old player bringing that kind of effort and energy on the floor; actually, they put more value on the defensive side of the ball when it comes to trusting a young player. Sans showed on Sunday that he understands that the best way to compete at the senior level is by bringing full effort and holding his own on the defensive end.


•    It is not a kept secret that Markus Eriksson ('93) is a tremendous shooter; he connected on 50.3% of his three point shots (151 attempts) in last year's Adecco Oro league with Barcelona II team, 45.4% the season before (183 threes). He is that good a shooter. Now, at the ACB level, the ability to recognize how defenses play him would be crucial for his future value. Eriksson always has been solid at putting the ball on the floor and making plays off the dribble, but as he is advancing levels, he's got to make quick decisions against more prepared, fundamentally sound defensive teams. He did that quite well in his first two ACB games with Manresa, managing to attack close outs and getting into the lane, where he finished with floaters most of the time. Eriksson shoots the ball with confidence while possessing a very quick release on his jumper, if manages to make moving-defenses pay with a solid decision making, he may end up being a great, multiple-offense, shooting guard down the road.


•    After an impressive U18 European Championship with Turkey, Kenan Sipahi ('95), tournament's MVP, finally is getting first team minutes with Fenerbache. Fener's experienced coaching staff, leading by legend Zeljko Obradovic, decided that is better giving a chance to the young kid instead of finding a Euroleague veteran to do the job. Last week, in his first Euroleague game, Sipahi did an incredible play in the middle of the third quarter, which showed his high-level understanding of the game. Immediately after a turnover from Budivelnkik Kiev, Sipahi did speed the ball up to the offensive end passing it to an almost unguarded Bojan Bogdanovic on the left block. Bogdanovic, a solid post-up player, took just two dribbles and finished with a right hook under the rim. Obradovic is such a demanding coach; he does not easily trust young players because they can hardly read the game as a veteran is capable of doing. Sipahi has a long ways to go as a Euroleague-level point guard, however, cerebral plays like that "forced" Obradovic to get him a spot on Fenerbache's first team roster.

Twitter of the author: @Gus_bball


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