The 2017 Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Kaunas took place from January the 12th to January the 14th.
Final: Zalgiris Kaunas – CFBB Paris 62 – 57
3rd place game: CSKA – Lietuvos Rytas 102 – 80
5th place game: Canarias Basketball Academy – Fenerbahce 83 – 59
7th place game: VEF Riga – Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt 72 – 69
All-Tournament Team: Aleksandr Ershov (CSKA - MVP), Isaac Bonga (Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt), Grantas Vasiliauskas (Zalgiris Kaunas), Ivan Fevrier (CFBB Paris), Yauhen Massalski (Lietuvos Rytas)

Group A

German team of Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt ended up in last place, despite the presence of top prospect Isaac Bonga (’99), who earned a spot in the All-Tournment Team. The 6’8” point guard handled the ball a lot for his team, creating easily off the pick and roll and showing high-level pasing skills. His jump shot was consistent as well during the tournament, but Bonga will need to work on his aggressiveness in attacking the basket, as it looks like right now he’s not always taking full advantage from his outstanding physique and athletic tools. Guard Philipp Hadenfeldt (‘99) was another solid performer for Frankfurt, bringing IQ and leadership in both backcourt positions and showing excellent shooting skills.

Fenerbahce wasn’t filled with high level talent, but played with good effort and able to win a close game against Lietuvos Rytas, which kept the Lithuanian team away from the final. The top performer for the Turkish team was talented 6’8” big man Ahmet Can Duran (‘99): still far from being physically in shape, he has very soft hands both to pass and finish. His performances on the court are often conditioned by his questionable body language and his effort and focus are still erratic, but when fully committed to play Duran is a legit threat both in the paint and facing the basket, thanks to his strong body and soft touch. Wing Baris Yeniay (‘99), an aggressive player able to finish inside the arc and to play defense in the backcourt, had a strong tournament, averaging 12.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Forward Efe Ergi Tirpanci (‘00) showed some potential, with a good frame and some power play inside the arc.

Lietuvos Rytas got a big win in the first game against CFBB, but wasn’t able to get to the final due to a one-point loss to Fenerbahce. It didn’t help them the absence of top prospect Deividas Sirvydis (‘00), who only played the first game; a lefty shooter with very good size, he has good basketball IQ and showed solid passing skills as well in his game against Frankfurt. Yauhen Massalski (‘99), a center from Belarus, had a great tournament and earned a spot in the All-Tournament Team. An explosive and quick rim-runner able to catch any entry pass in the paint, he’s an above average finisher who can easily play above the rim: he averaged 13.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.8 steals, connecting on 24 of his 33 two-point shots. Guard Domantas Vilys (‘00) averaged 14.3 points and was one of the main scoring options for his team, being easily able to create off the dribble and showing excellent shooting skills, but his decision making was shaky at times, he’ll need to work on his shot selection and learn how to play under control.

CFBB Paris ended up in second place in the tournament, losing in the final to Zalgiris Kaunas. The most awaited prospect in the French team was 6’6” small forward Yves Pons (‘99), an impressive athlete with great strength and wingspan. Pons had fouls troubles in the final, but overall had a solid tournament: he played defense on different positions, while on offense he was consistent with his outside shot, on a small sample of attempts, and was always effective on cuts, being able to finish above the rim at any time. The best performer in Kaunas was power forward Ivan Fevrier (‘99), who averaged 16.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals, earning a spot in the All-Tournament Team. Fevrier is a good full court runner who can easily catch an entry pass while cutting to the basket, and showed good touch to finish around the rim; he was also effective in getting offensive rebounds and finish off second chances, but he’ll need to improve his shooting range. Guard Joel Ayayi (‘00) played mainly off the ball in Kaunas and was a pivotal scoring option for his team: despite not playing a significant amount of minutes in his first three games, he was CFBB’s best scorer in the final with 19 points. He wasn’t a primary option to create in the backcourt, but can play both guard spots and score both from outside or attacking the basket, something not easy to find in a player with his frame. Guard Theo Maledon (‘01) has also an intriguing frame, and was able to play valuable minutes despite being the youngest player in his team; he can play both backcourt spots, in Kaunas showed valuable point guard skills and the ability to play at different speed.

Group B

In an extremely young VEF Riga team who featured only two 1999-born players, Francis Lacis (‘99) was the top performer. A strong and athletic small forward with very good frame, he shot extremely well off the catch and was able to defend multiple positions, showing also terrific shot-blocking skills coming from the weak side; he averaged 9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, shooting 42.1% from beyond the arc. Wing Oskars Hlebovickis (‘00) will need to work on his shot selection, which wasn’t good in Kaunas. With his size, shooting skills and some ability to create off the dribble he has intriguing potential though.

The team of Canarias Basketball Academy looked extremely tough and committed on the court, but lacked some ability to play together on both sides of the court, being effective mostly in one-on-one situations. Mexican combo-guard Diego Willis (‘99) was the best performer for CBA: an explosive and aggressive scorer, he has proper size to play both guard positions and is comfortable in shooting off the dribble. He averaged 16.8 points, 5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.5 steals. Chinese center Shengzhe Li (‘99) lacks elite athleticism and struggled in finishing in the paint, but he’s a big and strong inside presence with good shooting touch around the rim. Chinese small forward Xiaoyi Wang (‘99) has very good size at 6’7”, even though he’ll need to improve his body: he was the best shooter in Kaunas, connecting on 50% of his threes (17/34 through four games) and averaging 13.3 points per game.

CSKA had a great tournament, playing tough defense and shooting well from beyond the arc. Wing Aleksandr Ershov (‘00) was the tournament’s MVP, playing at a high level in all four games and finishing with one of the best performances ever in the 3rd place game against Lietuvos: 37 points shooting 12/21 from the field and 10/10 from the free throw line, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 fouls drawn. Ershov has good size (6’5) and extremely strong body for his age, he lacks high level ball-handling but was hard to stop when attacking the rim, giving his ability to finish with contact. He hit 8 of his 14 threes in the tournament, showing consistent form and extended shooting range. Alexander Khomenko (‘99) and Yury Umrikhin (‘99) were very solid in the backcourt. Khomenko has good frame for the point guard position, along with great leadership and playmaking skills; always playing with high level aggressiveness, was a key factor for CSKA thanks to his court vision and pick and roll skills as well. Umrikhin is a 6’2” scoring guard with good quickness and body control: he was turnover prone and seems to lack the proper poise to play the point guard position, but can easily create off the dribble and is relentless in attacking the basket in the halfcourt.

Once again Zalgiris Kaunas won the ANGT tournament on his own home court, beating CFBB Paris in the final. Guard Ignas Sargiunas (‘99) was the team’s emotional leader, showing good poise in running the offense and the ability to play at different speed; he was a key factor on defense thanks to his strong body and excellent footwork, on offense he struggled to hit outside shots (11.8%) but was consistent in attacking the basket and creating in the paint. Versatile wing Martynas Arlauskas (‘00) has intriguing potential and was a big contributor on both sides of the court despite being one year younger than the competition: he has good size for his position and was comfortable in creating off the dribble, being able to keep balance in his pull up jumper and showing overall excellent shooting skills. In a highly balanced offense, talented Rokas Jokubaitis (‘00) was Zalgiris’ top scorer: the 6’1” combo guard is a microwave scorer who plays with high level motor, he’s a great shooter with extended range and a quick release in his shot. Power forward Grantas Vasiliauskas (‘99) was named to the All-Tournament Team after having a key role thanks to his constant presence on both ends of the court. A strong player who is able to battle inside and rebound the ball at a high rate, he was consistent with his jumper as well and hit a bunch of pivotal shots in the tournament. Shooting guard Lukas Uleckas (‘99) struggled in the tournament and wasn’t able to hit shots with consistence, having some self-confidence issue; but he looked solid in other areas of the game, showing some intriguing ability in creating off the pick and roll and playing valuable minutes on the defensive end.

Photo by Linas Zemgulis