The 2018 Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Kaunas took place from January the 19th to January the 21st.
Final: Lietuvos Rytas – Stellazzurra Rome  76 - 55
3rd place game: Zalgiris Kaunas – CSKA Moskow  82 - 65
5th place game: CFBB Paris – Khimki Moscow  74 - 72
7th place game: VEF Riga – Fenerbahce  86 - 81
All-Tournament Team: Deividas Sirvydis (Lietuvos Rytas - MVP), Marek Blazevic (Lietuvos Rytas), Aristide Mouaha (Stellazzurra Rome), Rokas Jokubaitis (Zalgiris Kaunas), Mathis Dossou-Yovo (CFBB Paris)

Group A

Despite showing good effort and decent execution, VEF Riga feature one of the least talented group we’ve seen from the Latvian team at ANGT, and ended up in 7th place thanks to the last day’s win against Fenerbahce. Wing Rainers Hermanovskis (’00) played with high motor and was able to create some opportunity on offense by driving hard to the rim, showing good vision and ability to pass off the dribble, but his left hand and outside shot are still work in progress. Small forward Oskars Hlebovickis (’00) left mixed impressions: he’s grown up compared to one year ago and now listed at 6’7, and when he plays under control and with willingness to share the ball he shows very good vision and ball skills, but his shot selection is often questionable and his shooting mechanics need some work. Point guard Rodrigo Bumeisters (’00) also had some interesting moment, as a poised ball-handler with balanced game and ability to make jumpers, but his body is still extremely skinny and he struggles to handle physical contact.

Khimki Moscow came to Kaunas with a young team, featuring eight 2001-born players out of twelve. They battled Zalgiris Kaunas in the first game, got a win against VEF Riga and incredibly lost the 5th place game against CFBB Paris. Guard Anton Alakin (’00) was their most consistent performer and leader, averaging 20.8 points, 3 assists and 5.8 fouls drawn per game. The lefty combo guard is listed somewhere between 6’4 and 6’5 and impressed with his creativity and ability to score off the dribble, using properly also his off hand, making a solid use of P&R sets and passing off the dribble with proper timing; he didn’t show confidence with his outside shot, but most of the time was able to get into the paint. Power forward Dmitrii Kadoshnikov (’01) performed well inside the paint, scoring efficiently around the rim, rebounding the ball at a good rate and averaging 12.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2.3 assists per game; his physical upside looks limited though, and he’ll need to expand his shooting range to be effective at higher level. Power forward Vladislav Odinokov (’00) was also solid in Kaunas: an explosive and tough player who can hurt opponents off cuts and can hit spot up shots, he still has a skinny body which he’ll need to fill up in the upcoming seasons.

The host team of Zalgiris Kaunas lost for the first time an ANGT game at Zalgirio Arena, falling to Stellazzurra Rome and missing the access to the Final. Point guard Rokas Jokubaitis (’00) was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 15 points, 8.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds. The lefty guard looked like the best point guard in attendance, being able to play at different speed and scoring efficiently in the paint or from mid-range. He showed very good pace on the P&R, turning the corner hard to score and finding his teammates with solid vision, despite having the tendency to always go to his strong hand. He didn’t connect with his outside shot, finishing only with a total 3/14 in the tournament. Wing Martynas Arlauskas (’00) was one of the most awaited players in the tournament, but wasn’t able to always produce as much as expected: despite playing mostly under control and with high-level motor, he wasn’t always able to provide a primary scoring option on offense, struggling to finish against the big and physical roster of Stellazzurra and showing overall an inconsistent outside shot throughout the three-day competition. The creativity and craftiness with the ball are highly valuable for a player his size, and he was a key performer for Zalgiris on both ends of the court. Center Erikas Venskus (’00) was the most reliable option under the basket for his team: he lacks an elite physical and athletic profile, but he’s a high IQ player who was able to consistently score in the paint thanks to his positioning, soft touch and good footwork. Ukrainian center Volodymyr Markovetskyy (’00) looked improved in his awareness around the rim and had a decent impact catching offensive rebounds and finishing some second chance point inside the paint. But his body is still way undeveloped and he has some important mobility issue. A pleasant surprise was big man Giedrius Bergaudas (’00) who looked improved from a physical and athletic standpoint and was able to have a solid impact, as a dynamic 6’10 player able with decent touch and some shooting range.

Stellazzurra Roma was impressive in group stage but fell short in the final against Lietuvos Rytas, where they never looked really able to win the game. Guard Aristide Mouaha (’00) was among the tournament’s breakout performers and was named in the All-Tournament Team. He averaged 16.3 points, 3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.8 turnovers and 4.3 fouls drawn, shooting 62.5% from two and 38.5% from three. Mouaha is a strong 6’3 ball-handler with high-level quickness and explosiveness: he was almost unstoppable in transition, finishing at impressive rate inside the paint and beating his defender with ease. His off hand is still a work in progress though, and he struggled when forced to play at a slow pace. Forward Paul Eboua (’00) was the most consistent performer for Stellazzurra, averaging 14.8 points and a tournament best 11 rebounds, with a 23+15 game against Zalgiris Kaunas shooting 10/11 from two. Eboua’s outstanding frame and athleticism were almost impossible to match at this level of competition, he was at times unstoppable inside the paint, finishing easily above the rim and being at his best if able to finish off cuts or driving from the mid-range. His jumper was streaky but overall effective, with a quite smooth despite slow motion, but he’ll need to improve his perimeter skills to handle and shoot from beyond the arc. Forward Luca Conti (’00) didn’t perform well in the final but had a very good showing in group stage, shooting the ball off the catch, helping a bit in handling the ball in the halfcourt and fighting for rebounds inside. He lacks some explosiveness though, and his centre of gravity is quite high. 6’11 center Russel Tchewa (’00) was a key factor inside thanks to his massive presence and used well his body to create easy shots for himself and open looks for his teammates. He’s still raw in his game and fundamentals, but finished decently around the rim with his strong hand and had an important defensive role.

Group B

Fenerbahce came in Kaunas lacking elite talent in their roster and ended up in the last place of the standings. Small forward Ergi Tirpanci (’00) struggled to keep up with the good performance he had in the last season’s tournament, but also played the entire tournament with a protective mask. He has a solid frame and can be effective handling the ball and attacking the basket, can finish inside at a decent rate and has solid vision to kick the ball out to his teammates; but his decision making was shaky in Kaunas, and he’ll need to add a proper outside shot to his game. Big man Ismail Karabilen (’01) averaged 11 points and 7 rebounds per game, ending up as his team’s top scorer. He has some intriguing ball skill and a frame which could potentially fill up in a decent way, but his attitude is questionable as he has the tendency to shy away from physical competition. His soft touch and face up game are still intriguing in a prospect his age.

The most disappointing team in Kaunas was surely CFBB Paris, which ended up in 5th place featuring likely the least talented and deep group in recent team’s history of participation at ANGT. Center Mathis Dossou-Yovo (’00) was named in the All-Tournament Team after averaging 16.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2 assists. He lacks elite touch and skills on offense, but was extremely active in the paint, playing with relentless motor and embracing physical game: as a strong, long and active big man he was a tough match for other frontcourt players on both ends of the court, and he was efficient in scoring in the paint and connecting on second chance points. Shooting guard Yohan Choupas (’00) left mixed impressions: he hasn’t grown up significantly over the last year but he’s still an aggressive and explosive defender able to generate tons of turnovers. On offense he showed his best things when playing off the ball, being able to hit spot up shots and be effective as a cutter, but his ball-handling is still shaky and he doesn’t look comfortable playing with a role as a primary ball-handler. Shooting guard Timothe Crusol (’01) had to play lot of minutes at the point guard spot, doing a decent job in controlling the tempo and starting the offense in the halfcourt. He also looked more comfortable when playing off the ball and being able to focus on scoring, hitting some important shot from mid-range over the course of the tournament.

CSKA ended up in 4th place, lacking the backcourt production which they had in the 2017 edition. 6’10 big man Pavel Zakharov (’01) established himself as one of the most intriguing prospects in attendance: his awareness on the court is still in the making, but he has excellent frame and athletic tools and he’s improving his fundamentals. He averaged 15.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, finishing off dynamic situations in the paint thanks to his length and quickness, covering ground with ease on defense and showing also an improving face up game, being able to score some jumper from as far as from beyond the arc. Wing Aleksandr Ershov (’00), who was the MVP of the 2017 edition, didn’t keep up to the expectations around him: he averaged 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.5 steals, 3.3 turnovers and 7.8 fouls drawn per game, but struggled with shooting percentages and his performances were quite erratic on the court. He hasn’t grown up much from a physical standpoint but he still has a very good frame, standing somewhere around 6’5 with an extremely strong and wiry body. He’s at his best when he has wide space in front of him to attack or when he can shoot off the catch, as he lacks elite ball-handling and burst off the dribble. Big man Viktor Lakhin (’01) also showed some intriguing flash, as a frontcourt player with good size, promising frame and some soft touch from either in the paint or facing the basket, but his attitude was erratic and he showed a quite soft approach to the game.

Lietuvos Rytas crushed Stellazzurra in the final to win it all in Kaunas, winning all four game in the tournament by an average of 24.5 points. Small forward Deividas Sirvydis (’00) got a well-deserved tournament’s MVP: the lefty player led the way on offense, handling the ball with confidence from the top of his 6’8 frame, changing speed at will off the dribble, showing very good vision in the halfcourt and a smooth shooting form with consistent and quick release from beyond the arc. He’ll need to improve his right hand, which still doesn’t look solid enough in his game, but his natural perimeter skills make him extremely intriguing. He averaged 17 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2 steals and 4.3 fouls drawn per game. Center Marek Blazevic (’01) was also named in the All-Tournament Team after averaging 12.3 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block, 1.5 steals and 4.3 fouls drawn per game. He’s a fluid 6’10 big man with a promising frame, who doesn’t shy away from physical competition and brings him a much needed inside presence on both ends of the court for his team. He has a high basketball IQ, shows quality decisions with the ball and has excellent positioning and timing when moving without the ball. His soft touch and good footwork allowed him to score inside at a good rate, and he showed some promise also with his jumper. 7’1 center Jonas Paukste (’00) was among the tournament’s most improved players compared to one year ago: still extremely skinny and lanky, yet he’s improving from a physical and athletic standpoint; despite still behind in his overall development, he was able to have a solid impact for Lietuvos Rytas in his 15 minutes per game on the court. He averaged 6.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, bringing a decent presence in the paint to rebound the ball, finish second chance opportunities and intimidating on defense thanks to his great size. Forward Simas Jarumbauskas (’00) also had a key role for Lietuvos Rytas, as an undersized all-around player who brought intensity, toughness and intangible plays on both ends of the court. He doesn’t have a real position right now and will need to improve his outside shot to maximize his potential, but he made a name for himself with his aggressive attitude and ability to position himself off the ball.

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