By Enrico Kufuor

The 2017 NBBL (u19) and JBBL (u16) Top 4 tournament was held in Frankfurt in May 27th and 28th.
NBBL Final: Bayern - IBAM 94:71
JBBL Final: Frankfurt - ALBA 60:88
NBBL Semifinal 1: Artland - Bayern 61:104
NBBL Semifinal 2: IBAM - ALBA 74:66
JBBL Semifinal 1: Frankfurt -  Tübingen 87:68
JBBL Semifinal 2: Artland - ALBA 65:92
NBBL Top 4 MVP: Nelson Weidemann (Bayern München)
JBBL Top 4 MVP: Elias Rödl (ALBA Berlin)

Bayern München,
Led by the Top 4 MVP Nelson Weidemann (’99) who scored 16.5pts, 5.5 ast, and 6 rebs, Bayern München was too much for both IBAM and the Young RASTA Dragons. At 6’3, Weidemann is more of a combo guard, but has made major strides in his abilities to set the table for his teammates and shows a better control of the pace of the game. Additionally he displayed a smooth shooting stroke, hitting six of his eleven three point attempts. The creative 6’7 guard Amar Gegic (’98) complemented Weidemann in the backcourt, allowing Bayern to continuously put pressure on opposing defenses with his aggressive drives. Finishing the tournament with five assists per contest, Gegic continuously put his passing ability on display. Most of the backcourt duos assist totals went towards the über-effective Marko Pecarski (’00), who, although very unathletic, has a knack for putting the ball in the basket in an array of ways. Often set up by the backcourt duo, he was able to score easy baskets around the rim through dump offs and in pick and roll situations. However, Pecarski has also shown the ability to use his body to his advantage, as he carves out space in post-up situations, typically finishing with his right hand. Similarly he has great positioning, as well as instincts at the glass, corralling 9.5 rebounds per game over the course of the Top 4 tournament. While the three aforementioned players carried the heavy load for the newly crowned champion, the role players forward Jannick Jebens (’98) and guard Erol Ersek (’99) played major roles in Bayerns road to the top of the NBBL.
Internationale Basketball Akademie München
The runner-up at the championship weekend, IBAM, was led by probably the most talented player in the NBBL competition, the jack of all trades Oscar da Silva (’98). The 6’9 forward has the ability to operate from a number of positions, as his team looked for him in numerous different situations. Often looking to score from the block, da Silva also has shown the ability to attack from the outside. Though, he struggled shooting the ball over the course of the tournament, he displays great promise as a shooter due to a smooth shooting motion. Da Silva also displayed great defensive versatility by mostly defending against guards in the semifinal, while mostly defending against big men in the final. Supporting da Silva in the front court were center Anthony Okao (’98) and national team forward Fynn Fischer (’99). While Okao was held under his capabilities, Fischer was able to impress en route to an average of 15 points per contest. A 6’9 power forward Fischer rolls hard in PNR situations and fights hard for position on duck ins, giving him opportunities to score by pure effort. Though not featured much in IBAM’s offense, he finds ways to be effective, as he is a tenacious rebounder and sets hard screens. It should be interesting to see how he progresses and operates as the featured player in their offense over the course of the next season. A big part of IBAM’s success has been Dimitrije Mrda (’98), a 6‘2 point guard with good vision, decent driving and good finishing ability. Though not an athlete, he has been able to be effective by finding driving angles and by sheer will. While he’s a streaky shooter, Mrda has a lot of heart and seems to find the bottom of the net at the most opportune times. Another intriguing prospect is Joshua Obiesie (’00) who’s listed at 6‘1, but looks as though he is closer to 6‘5. His regular season statistics don’t suggest much, however he seems to be a later bloomer and has shown major promise especially in the semifinal game. A lefty, equipped with a smooth shooting stroke, Obiesie is already a good spot up shooter. Possessing decent athleticism and the ability to get all the way to the rim, he should be able to make more of an impact offensively going forward. Though still somewhat raw at this point, his motor seems to be running at all times,
ALBA Berlin
Playing in the fourth consecutive Top 4 ALBA Berlin came up short in the semifinal against IBAM. A terrific performance by Badu Buck (’99), who finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds, was not enough to upend the team from Munich. The 6’5 shooting guard is a good jump shooter with great defensive capabilities who’s able to continuously challenge IBAM’s da Silva, making him earn everything. ALBA’s guard tandem of Ferdinand Zylka (’98) and Bennet Hundt (’98), who finished fourth place at last year’s u18 European Championships, struggled mightily in the semifinal of this year Top 4. Zylka, who’s an undersized shooting guards at 6’3, was unable to mark find his offensive rhythm seemed rattled by Munich’s physicality. Though possessing decent defensive potential, his defensive focus leaves much to be desired. Hundt, listed at 5’11, but probably closer to 5’8, struggled with his decision making, as he couldn’t find a balance between creating his own shot and setting up teammates. Similarly 6’4 Jonas Mattisseck (’00) struggled against IBAM, as he never seemed to find access to the game, struggling to make an impact. However, Mattisseck is a point guard with good control of the game who possesses a smooth shooting stroke. While not overly athletic, he has a good basketball IQ, usually allowing him to take over games. Lastly Hendrik Drescher (’00) showed a lot of improvements compared to last season, although his potential is rather restricted. A big body 6’8 forward, Drescher shows a tremendous stroke from the three point line, while also displaying he’s more willing to throw his body around in the paint.
Young RASTA Dragons
Philipp Herkenhoff (’99) is the Young RASTA Dragons best players, as well as prospect; however, he was completely shut down by the defensive prowess of Bayern. A 6’10 forward, Herkenhoff displays a smooth, albeit slow shooting motion and a vast potential given his versatility. Nonetheless, at this point of his development his ball handling ability is subpar, as are his leadership capabilities, therefore not allowing him to divert the outcome of the game. Even so, Herkenhoff shows immense intrigue. Equally intriguing is the 6’9 forward Danielus Lavrinovicius (’99) who has played for the Lithuanian national team. Long and athletic, Lavrinovicius is a great finisher around the rim, often using right-handed hook shots, or finishing above the rim attacking from outside. He has a decent shooting motion, as well, although he has a rather wide stance. Lacking the talent of other teams in this tournament, they were completely overwhelmed with the depth and discipline of Bayern Munich, and were no match in the semifinal.

ALBA Berlin
In 6’4 Franz Wagner (’01) ALBA Berlin may have had the most intriguing prospect in their ranks. Though Wagner struggled offensively in the championship tournament, he showed a lot to be excited about. Playing with a lot of grit and passion, Wagner may have forced the issue too much at times. However, he displayed a smooth shooting motion, as well as the ability to handle the ball, as he oftentimes brought the ball up. However, physically he shows a lot of signs of being a late bloomer, similar to his older brother. While Wagner was struggling, the rest of the team picked up the slack, led by the JBBL Top 4 MVP Elias Rödl (’02). The 6’3 shooting guard is a knockdown three point shooter, shooting 7/14 from the perimeter over the course of the two games. Though Rödl is rather slow on his feet, he finds ways to get to the basket often using his threat as a shooter in closeout situations. Nonetheless, 6’5 forward Ben Lingk (’01) is probably the most intriguing prospect behind Wagner. Possessing a strong frame and good body control, he is a freight train on the way to the basket. Also, Lingk is equipped with a sound shooting form and the ability to make shots from the perimeter at a high rate. Upping his game when the games became more important, he showed a steady progression throughout the season, resulting in stellar play at the Top 4 tournament.
Eintracht Frankfurt/FRAPORT SKYLINERS
The host of the German championship tournament placed a trio of very promising prospects on the court. Eintracht Frankfurt/FRAPORT SKYLINERS was led by 6’3 point guard Maximilian Begue (’01). A very intriguing prospect that has been derailed by injuries in the past, Begue seemed to be in control of the game most of the time, as he seems to possess a maturity well ahead of what his age would suggest. A deceptive athlete, he came away with steals and deflections out of nowhere, making him a hassle on the defensive end. Though he seemed passive at times, seemingly only attacking when the shot clock was running down, Begue was effective in picking his spots and setting his teammates up, as he displayed good vision. The other guard in the trio was 6’3 shooting guard Len Schoormann (’02). An athletic guard, Schoormann had a couple of impressive dunks over the course of the weekend, displaying great athleticism. While his ballhandling is rather loose at this point, his athleticism allows him to get to the basket at will. However, at this point of his development he is rather raw, relying on his athletic capabilities too much. Although his shooting form is sound, he looks rather tense shooting the basketball, often leading to a lack of rhythm in terms of shooting the ball. It will be interesting to see how he will progress in the upcoming years, as he was one of the youngest players at the tournament. Struggling over the course of the weekend was Calvin Schaum (’02), a 6’5 forward with decent athleticism and good body control. Schaum was held under his capabilities, as he struggled with the physicality leading to a combined eight fouls in the two games. Also, one of the youngest players at the tournament, he is a strong driver and active rebounder. Albeit slow, his shooting form is promising.
Young Tigers Tübingen
Able to hold their own for merely 14 minutes, the Young Tigers Tübingen have a very interesting roster. Their top scorer and most productive player of the season, Matti Sorgius (’01), was present on crutches, as he had to pass with a knee injury. Interestingly this team was the deepest in terms of potential, displaying numerous talents that could land in higher leagues in Germany. Clearly led by Daniel Zacek (’01) in their semifinal loss with his 17 points, he was Tübingen’s most impressive player until he had to leave the game with an ankle injury.  At 6’0 he is an undersized shooting guard with toughness and the ability to drive aggressively, although he has to be classified as more of a shooter than anything else. Equally important was Mirjan Broening (’01), an undersized point guard who finished with 13 points and three assists. An undersized, hard-nosed point guard, Broening is the floor general of this team. However, the most interesting prospects of this Tübingen team were Nils Schmitz (’01), a creative driver, as well as the immensely intriguing, but very raw twins Emanuel and Obed Francisco (’01). Schmitz struggled, scoring nine points on twelve shots, but showed a lot of promise both on his drives, as well as his pull up jumpers, still needs to work on his decision making. The Francisco twins, however, are still very raw, but display great length and athleticism with great defensive ability.
Young RASTA Dragons
The most underwhelming team of the JBBL Top 4 were the Young RASTA Dragons. Led by the JBBL regular season Rookie of the Year and regular season MVP Luc van Slooten (’02), the Dragons were never a match in their semifinal bout with the JBBL champions ALBA Berlin. Van Slooten struggled to find his way into the game, as he was rattled by the defensive schemes and physicality of their counterparts. Though not displaying the mental toughness to fight through adversity at this point, van Slooten shows a lot of promise due to his shot making ability, as well as his length and his athleticism. Still younger than mostly everyone else at the championship event, he displays the most promise and should deliver in these situations as he matures.  Radii Caisin (’01) who dominated wasn’t able to completely display his strengths, though he finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds. At this point he is all athleticism and tenacity, but lacks the skill needed to make him a top prospect.