The 2018 Adidas Next Generation Tournament in L’Hospitalet took place from January the 5th to January the 7th.
Final: Joventut Badalona – FC Barcelona  77 - 74
3rd place game: ASVEL Villeurbanne – Gran Canaria  90 - 81
5th place game: Unicaja Malaga – Virtus Bologna  99 - 86
7th place game: L’Hospitalet – Promitheas Patras  92 - 85
All-Tournament Team: Luka Samanic (FC Barcelona - MVP), Joel Parra (Joventut Badalona), Theo Maledon (ASVEL), Biram Faye (Gran Canaria), Morgan Stilma (Unicaja Malaga)

Group A
The host team of L’Hospitalet had another solid showing at ANGT, beating Promitheas in the 7th place game and giving some serious battle to Virtus Bologna, Gran Canaria and Joventut Badalona in the group stage. Point guard Adrian Rodriguez (’01) was the team’s best performer, despite being one year under age in the competition: he’s a small but quick and aggressive point guard who plays with fearless attitude, showed flashy ball-handling and good change of pace off the dribble, hurting opponents in P&R sets and finishing well in the paint. He averaged 18 points, 4 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 5 turnovers and 4 steals per game, also leading the tournament in this last category.

Virtus Bologna showed good execution and toughness, hanging around with all of their opponents, but lacked elite depth in their roster. Estonian wing Mikk Jurkatamm (’00) had a breakout tournament, averaging 19 points per game while shooting 38.9% from three point range. He has solid size at 6’5 and high-level shooting skills off the catch or pulling up after couple of dribbles, lacks elite ball-handling but was efficient attacking the basket on the move and showed good vision to pass the ball. Another intriguing prospect was 7’0 Senegalese center Gora Camara (’01), who grabbed 23 rebounds against L’Hospitalet: with still an extremely undeveloped skillset, the African big man has an impressive frame, moves well for his size and was effective inside the paint at this level of competition thanks to his size and length.

Gran Canaria ended up in fourth place after losing their last game against ASVEL, placing Senegalese center Biram Faye (’00) in the All-Tournament team. Faye had an outstanding showing, averaging 20.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 6.3 fouls drawn and 31.3 of evaluation per game. He crashed the boards extremely hard and showed some interesting improvement in his game around the rim, using well his strong body to get into his defender and finish with solid touch around the rim. 7’1 Polish center Aleksander Balcerowski (’00) was one of the most awaited players in the tournament, but his overall performance was disappointing in L’Hospitalet. The combination of mobility, coordination and touch is amazing for a player his size, and his face up skills are hard to find at his position, but he showed a rather soft and unemotional attitude on the court, always shying away from physical contact and rarely changing pace to his game. Montenegrin wing Jovan Kljajic (’01) averaged 14.3 points per game and had another strong showing after the one at FIBA U16 European Championship in August: a physical and mature player with high basketball IQ and elite passing skills, he’ll need to become a consistent shooter in order to maximize his potential. Senegalese center Khalifa Diop (‘02) looked promising in his minutes on the court, as a 6’10, strong center who also has a decent feel for the game despite being still quite undeveloped.
Joventut Badalona won it all in L’Hospitalet, earning a spot for the final stage in Belgrade. A deep and well-rounded team, they placed forward Joel Parra (’00) in the All-Tournament Team. Parra’s athleticism and strength were hard to match at this level of competition, he was efficient running the court and filling the lanes in transition; playing closer to the basket he was able to beat opposing big men with his quickness and first step. His lefty jumper was consistent off the catch, and he finished averaging 16.5 points, 7 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game while shooting 56.7% from two and 50% from three. Latvian point guard Arturs Zagars (’00) was the main leader for his team, setting the pace on offense and never shying away when asked to take responsibilities. An advanced ball-handler able to keep his dribble alive under pressure, he showed great awareness on the P&R, vision and ability to pass off the dribble. He also shot the ball extremely well, averaging 14 points and 6.3 assists, with 61.5% from two point range and 48% from beyond the arc. Forward Arnau Parrado (’00) was the most efficient player in the final for Badalona, scoring 23 points with 7 rebounds, 8 fouls drawn and 28 of evaluation. Still between the two forwards positions, he was extremely effective inside the arc, attacking with power moves and finishing in the paint. He’ll need to work on his perimeter skills on both ends of the court to maximize his potential. In the tournament he averaged 14.3 points, 5 rebounds and 5 fouls drawn. Brazilian center Vinicius Da Silva (‘01) is extremely raw, being with the team only since few weeks, but as a 7-footer with mobility and length he has intriguing upside once he’ll fill up his extremely skinny frame. In L’Hospitalet he averaged 8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

Group B
For the first time in an ANGT competition, Promitheas Patras ended up in last place after winning their first game against Unicaja Malaga. They featured a young and inexperienced roster, in which the most interesting prospect was forward Eleftherios Mantzoukas (‘03), who also happened to be the youngest player in L’Hospitalet: already listed at 6’8, Mantzoukas played off the ball and showed great instincts for the game, solid catch and shoot skills and awareness in moving without the ball. He averaged 7 points and 5.7 rebounds in the tournament. Forward Aristotelis Sotiriou (‘01) is a 6’8 all-around player and was a major contributor for Promitheas on both ends of the court: he guarded multiple positions on defense, while on offense showed good ball skills and decision making, averaging 7.8 points and 5 rebounds. Wing Angelos Grammatikos (‘01) didn’t impact much the game, but has good size at 6’7 and looked already as a solid handler and passer on offense.
It wasn’t a remarkable tournament for Unicaja Malaga, which featured a less talented roster than in the past ANGT editions. They were led by Dutch big man Morgan Stilma (’00), who entered in the tournament’s record books with his performance against Virtus Bologna (42 points, 9/17 from two, 5/7 from three, 9/10 from the free throw line, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 8 fouls drawn, 52 evaluation) and earned a spot in the All-Tournament Team. He’s limited by his below average size (6’6) and explosiveness, but his low post game, footwork, basketball IQ, physicality and ability to stretch the floor were hard to match at this level of competition. He led the tournament in average evaluation (34 per game). Wing Jesus Carralero (’00) had also an extremely good showing in L’Hospitalet, averaging 15 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.5 blocks. A 6’6 player with good explosiveness and promising frame, he played with impressive motor, was everywhere on defense and was highly effective attacking the basket on a straight line, even though will need to work on his ball-handling and outside shooting.
After losing their first two games, ASVEL Villeurbanne ended up in the third place in L’Hospitalet, with a team which featured some of the most interesting prospect in attendance. Point guard Theo Maledon (‘01) had an amazing tournament and was named in the All-Tournament team after averaging 28.5 points, 5 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 2.3 steals, 6.5 fouls drawn and 29.3 of evaluation, shooting 56.6% from two and 42.9% from three. Listed between 6’4 and 6’5, Maledon has elite size for his position, and despite not being the most explosive athlete on the court he’s extremely efficient changing speed with the ball and creating separation off the dribble. A poised guard with excellent vision and passing skills, he had some impressive moment creating off the P&R, shot the ball well off the dribble, showed some remarkable off ball skill on offense and played high level defense towards all the tournament. Wing Malcolm Cazalon (‘01) also was impressive in L’Hospitalet, despite being limited by an injury in the last game. A 6’6 player with excellent frame an explosiveness, he’s still wild sometimes in his approach but can really make use of his athleticism to either finish strong at the rim on offense and play valuable defense on the other end. His off the catch shooting also looked promising, despite still not always consistent. Point guard Matthew Strazel (‘02) is a small but quick player with unreal leadership for his age: playing fearless and mature offense while also shooting well the ball, he averaged 11.3 points and 3 assists, connecting on 38.9% of his threes and scoring 18 points in the last game.
FC Barcelona lost to Joventut Badalona in the final, missing the automatic qualification to ANGT final stage. Croatian power forward Luka Samanic (’00) was still able to be named the tournament’s MVP, after dominating the competition with 23.3 points, 14.8 rebounds (7 on the offensive end), 3 assists, 2.8 blocks, 6.8 fouls drawn and 33 of evaluation per game. He has amazing ball skills and elite footwork for a 6’10 player, being extremely fluid and explosive to attack off the dribble and finish at the rim. His passing skills were put on display throughout the whole tournament, particularly to find open teammates when doubled in the low post. He’s still not fully comfortable finishing with contact inside the paint, and he shot just 44.1% from two. Montenegrin center Nikola Zizic (’00) had a productive tournament, averaging 11.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1 block per game. An extremely strong and physical player, he played with high-level motor inside and was a tough matchup at this level of competition. He’ll need to work on his shooting range and improve his off hand to be more efficient on offense. Montenegrin point guard Pavle Titic (’00) left mixed impressions in the tournament: listed at 6’3 and with good frame for his position, he had some good scoring stretch and provided an aggressive offense, but also had the tendency to overdribble the ball and getting into bad decisions. He averaged 11.3 points while shooting 37.5% from three. Wing David Font (’00) averaged 13.3 points per game while shooting 40.9% from three, but he went 0/6 from beyond the arc in the final. His shooting ability has a value for a higher level of competition, but he’ll need to work on his off the dribble offense. Wing Tom Digbeu (’01) was one of the most awaited player in the tournament but wasn’t able to have a consistent impact, showing few flash of potential but overall looking passive and not aggressive with the ball.

Photo by Paco Largo