ANGT Valencia - Recap
By Eugenio Agostinelli and Biel Colominas
The 2018 Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Valencia took place from December the 28th to December the 30th.
Final: Valencia Basket - Virtus Bologna 82-71
3rd place game: Joventut Badalona - BBA Ludwigsburg 84-80
5th place game: FC Barcelona - Estudiantes 92-74
7th place game: ASVEL Villeurbanne - USK Prague 61-59
All-Tournament Team: Gora Camara (Virtus Bologna - MVP), Ariel Hukporti (BBA Ludwigsburg), Tom Digbeu (FC Barcelona), Marc Garcia (Valencia Basket), Aleix Haro (Joventut Badalona)
Group A
USK Future Stars Prague was probably the less sized team in the whole competition. They ended up with a 0-4 record, which includes the 7th-8th place final loss against ASVEL Villeurbanne after an OT. One of the guys under the spotlights before this stage started was Czech forward David Bohm (’01), who had a solid debut in L’Alqueria scoring 29 points (5/10 from distance) against Barcelona, but played a bit below his average level in the following games. Shooting is surely the thing he does best on the court: the form his extremely fluid, release is quick and from a high point thanks to his long arms and length. He’s a threat both off the dribble and in catch and shoot situations and he can finish at the rim with both hands absorbing contacts, but he should improve his ability to attack closeouts being unable to change pace while attacking 1on1. Not a very unselfish guy when it comes to create for his teammates: court vision is decent, but his efficiency running the pick and roll is doubtful, and most of the time drives against collapsed defense in the paint and gets forced shots or turnovers instead of kicking the ball out. Should explore more the low post, has interesting skills as he can shoot above defenders’ heads or get closer to the basket absorbing contacts. To make a big step forward in his game he should put more energy on defense, has tools to be a tough guy to beat off the dribble and his size allows him to guard multiple spots also near the rim. Amongst the surprises of the tournament we can write the name of big man Kristian Kocab (’02), not the most sized and explosive guy to play in the paint but for sure one of the most intriguing bodies to work on. Although he has been suffering this lack of weight during the whole tournament, he’s a guy that never gives up on loose balls or rebounds on both ends of the floor, fighting for the best position against more sized opponents with nimble feet. He’s been able to grab a lot of rebounds using well his physical tools, as he has a good sense of position and knows when and where to jump to catch offensive boards. His involvement in the team’s game wasn’t that high, so his role was fundamental in doing intangibles on both ends. His pick and roll game is still a bit raw, but he executes with great timing and has a decent knowledge of the game. Post finishes are still weak because of his lack of strength, but has interesting upside to develop a nice mid range game and proper moves in the paint.
FC Barcelona disappointed people on attendance with his performance on the tournament, as they finished in 5th position only winning 2 games out of 4. French guard Tom Digbeu (‘01) was named on the All-Tournament Team after averaging 14.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.3 steals and 4.8 fouls drawn per game. Digbeu has elite athleticism at this level of competition, and he loves to use it in transition: he uses his explosiveness to beat his man and drive to the basket, then thanks to his leaping ability he can play above the rim with ridiculous ease, and finish with a ferocious dunk or fouls drawn. He showed promising court vision and passing skills while driving to the basket, being able to find the big man and the corner shooters as well. However, he needs to improve his ball-handling, be able to absorb contacts, basketball IQ and try to pass less often while jumping. Big man Haris Bratanovic (‘01) averaged 17.3 points, 9.8 rebounds (5 offensive rebounds), 2 assists and 1.3 blocks. He’s a 7-footer with huge body frame but below-average athleticism, who has outstanding basketball IQ. Bratanovic displayed his high-level court vision and passing skills from high and low post, as he can find cuts and open shots on the weak side. He has soft touch with both hands to score under the basket and he knows how to use his body against his opponents; on the other end he struggles to score against more athletic bodies under the rim. Bratanovic also showed his ability to shoot from beyond the arc. Center Matthew Marsh (‘02) only played two games because of a flu, but has intriguing potential thanks of his size, mobility and especially his athleticism. He did a great job running the floor in transition, every time he received the ball under the basket tried to finish with dunks without caring who was in front of him.  Marsh has been playing basketball for not many years, and it is translated in limited basketball IQ, as he usually doesn’t know how to move or where to go on the court. Mexican Gael Bonilla (‘03) didn’t have much playing time, but he proved to have lot of potential giving his size, wingspan, coordination and ball skills, but lacks athleticism. It’s worthy to mention that he finished as a 2nd shot blocker of the tournament with 1.5 per game though.
Playing great defense (62.7 points per game allowed to their opponents) and being the team with most three-pointers made per game (8.25, with a percentage of 27.7%) was not enough for BBA Ludwigsburg to claim a spot in the podium in Valencia. Ariel Hukporti (’02) has been, along with Gora Camara and Vinicius Da Silva, one of the most dominating big men in this tournament, and thanks to his performances he took one of the spots in the All-Tournament Team of the competition. With his frame and leaping ability, he had a tremendous impact on defense despite getting too early in foul troubles, showing good timing and length as a shot-blocker. He should work more on his array of moves on offense: takes very deep positions in the low post thanks to his size, but he’s too much strong-hand dominant as he only turns to his right shoulder to get left-handed baby hooks, and he’s not that accurate when it comes to convert possible 3-points plays, not using properly his enormous size and strength to absorb contacts. In his first game against Valencia he also tried a three-pointer: his mechanics is not that bad for a big man, but he must work a lot to get at least a decent mid-range shot. Not that strong hands when grabbing the ball, he goes in troubles when double-teamed and most of the times throws the ball away getting avoidable turnovers. Attitude can be a problem: careless to recover in defensive transition, seems to save his energy for the next offensive play, and his focus on the game is weak when doesn’t get the ball in the post for few possessions. George-Cristian Cotoara (’02) was a very solid player, used as a stretch 4 for the German side. The 6’8 Romanian is very well framed, has an unsuspicious nimbleness as he can handle the ball and attack closeouts, faking shots and driving at the rim without losing his core if affected by defenders around the rim. He has a very clean shooting form, and his high acknowledge of the game allows him to find the best spots to get the ball and shoot off the catch. Notable effort crashing the boards, being a constant presence under the offensive glass with the ability to take quick putbacks. Defensively he’s very versatile, has good laterality and footwork to switch on the pick and roll and stay in front of guards, and he can help and recover quickly. Has interesting instincts from the weak side, rotates with good timing and has nose for blocks. Jacob Patrick (’03) showed glimpses of interesting potential, despite still having a skinny body but with enough room to put more weight in. Very quick release and unlimited range are his main features as a three-point shooter: moves extremely well off the ball to get the better spot on the floor and he does a very good job through screens, even though the major efficiency comes off catch-and-shoot situations. Special mention for Lukas Herzog (’01), who ended the tournament with a great stats line, the 2nd highest 3P% (42.3%) among players who attempted at least 10 triples, and the highest number of three-pointers made in the competition (11, together with Nicoli and Bohm). But his effort was for sure more than only shooting: he plays with patience and focus on offense, reading situations and seeking the best possible shot for his team, and with his strong size and a good effort he can fight relentlessly for rebounds (5.3 at the end of the 4 games) against bigger and more sized guys under the rim.
The hosting and winning team of this ANGT Qualifiers, Valencia Basket didn’t have major talent in his roster, but teamwork and coaching were the key to gain the pass for Vitoria. Marc Garcia (’01) stood out in the final against Virtus Bologna with an all-around game: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals, with a 30 of ranking that made him a part of the All-Tournament Team. High motor player, his effort has been fundamental on the defensive half court, putting pressure on ball-handlers and doing a great job anticipating off-ball guards denying passing lanes. He has a focused attitude on the court, talkative with his teammates and always active on defense and catching rebounds. Handles are not very safe when double-teamed, but knows how to move the ball giving rhythm to spot up shooters, as he’s good at driving and kicking the ball out. His three-point shot is a little bit inconsistent, as he tends to be streaky but pretty efficient off the catch, while he seems uncomfortable when it comes to take isolations and create his own shot. He ended up the competition with 9.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.3 turnovers per game. Another interesting player in the Spanish team is Alonso Faure (’02), who started not that well but increased his effort during the tournament, finishing the tournament with 12 points and 5 rebounds in only 17 minutes played in the championship game. He still hasn’t the proper size to play at the 5, but has good timing and long arms to crash the boards on both ends, taking good position in the paint and boxing out bigger opponents to grab rebounds. On offense, he’s very good in moving off the ball. Running the court back and forth on high-paced sequences is not an issue for him, being always ahead of the ball able to receive a pass and go through defense. He lacks explosiveness and he’s not that able putting the ball down trying to attack his man off the dribble, and his main issue is that he has good size to play as a 4 but he should add at least a decent mid range game. His shooting form doesn’t seem to be broken.
Group B
Despite winning 2 of his 4 games, ASVEL Villeurbanne ended up the tournament in the 7th position, presenting a team way less talented than last season’s ANGT.  French point guard Matthew Strazel (‘02) led ASVEL on the offensive end and showed great leadership in the clutch, averaging 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 3.3 turnovers and 6 fouls drawn per game. Strazel is a small point guard with high-level quickness and ability to change direction with the ball in his hands, especially in transition. His ball skills and nice change of pace allow him to create his own shot on one-on-one and on P&R sets, being able to drive to the basket or to create separation with his defender to pull up from mid range with remarkable elevation. He is a streaky player and his decision making can improve. Flavien Buanga (‘01) has an intriguing body given his length and mobility on the floor. He played with good motor on the tournament, helping with rebounds on both ends of the floor, and he used well his length to intimidate and modify shots of his opponents on defense. Buanga showed good lateral mobility to switch on P&R and stay with smaller players. Kymany Houinsou (‘04), was the youngest player in Valencia: listed at 6’5, he can probably add couple of inches in the future. Houinsou has promising body frame, with remarkable wingspan and big hands. He showed nice ball-handling and quick change of pace to explode on one-on-one, he was fearless to attack the rim and showed his ability to finish with smooth floaters with his right hand. Has intriguing potential as an elite perimeter defender: playing with high motor, he has impressive lateral mobility and quick feet to stay in front of his man. It is important to highlight his basketball IQ being that young, and he has good timing to cut to the basket from the weak side.
Movistar Estudiantes lacked a talented roster and was able to win only one game during the tournament, against ASVEL. They relied mainly on Hector Alderete (‘02) who averaged 11.8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 3.8 fouls drawn per game. Alderete is a forward with high-level shooting tools off the catch, thanks to a consistent stroke and high point of release. He wasn’t efficient from beyond the arc until the last game of the tournament, but he still ended up averaging 38.5% from the 3-point line. He missed a reliable point guard on his team who could pass him the ball on catch and shoot, and he had to play a lot of time with the ball in his hands trying to create off the dribble for his team, something that he is not able to do because of his average ball-handling skills and lack of explosiveness. He showed some interesting passing skills and low post game, and he also did a great job boxing out for rebounds. Emil Stoilov (‘02) could only play two games in the tournament due to an injury. He has good size and promising body frame which can fill up nicely. Stoilov runs the floor pretty well, always trying to get a deep position in the paint. The Bulgarian can play aggressive P&R defense and stay with smaller player thanks to his good footwork and his low center of gravity position. He showed some intriguing movements in the low post as he is able to turn around both shoulders, but he didn’t play much in the post. Center Gilad Levy (‘02) has a huge size listed at 7’1, but he has undeveloped body and athleticism. His coordination and body control are far from being consistent, and it is still difficult for him to move on the court. Levy uses well his length to intimidate on defense, but his lack of athleticism and poor instincts don’t make him a reliable shot blocker. He showed some promising actions with putback dunks after offensive rebounds.
Joventut Badalona presented a less talented roster compared to last year’s ANGT but they still played a good tournament, ending up in 3rd place only losing against Virtus Bologna in the group phase. Combo guard Aleix Haro (‘01) was named in the All-Tournament Team averaging 17.8 points, 5 assists and 5.3 drawn fouls. The 6’1 guard handled the ball a lot for his team, creating lot of scoring opportunities in transition for himself and for his teammates, but he struggled with turnovers and shot selection due to shaky decision making. He is an average ball-handler capable to create his own scoring opportunities, but he only plays at one pace. Haro has a good stroke which he sets extremely quickly both off the dribble and off the catch, from mid and long range. Brazilian Vinicius Da Silva (‘01) was the top prospect of the team averaging 12.5 points, 11 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Vinicius has showed improvements in his body frame and body control since his first ANGT one year ago, but he still lacks explosiveness. The big man is fundamental on his team defense: his length intimidates a lot in the zone, his improved quickness allows him to play more aggressive defense on the P&R and he is always communicating. He also does a great job boxing out for rebounds. Vinicius shows much better hands to catch the ball while running in transition and to receive assists from his teammates. He has soft touch with both hands comparing with other big men of the tournament. Forward Adria Domenech (‘02) has above average body control, coordination and skills given his size. Domenech is able to beat his man on one-on-one and drive to the basket to score with soft layups or to pass the ball to shooters or to the big man thanks to his basketball IQ and court vision, but he can’t absorb contacts because of his still weak body. He showed nice shooting mechanics off the catch with high point of release, even though he didn’t take lots of shots. He needs to improve his off hand in dribble and shooting, commitment on defense and to be able to play against contacts. Averaged 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Zsombor Maronka (‘02) went from less to more, playing with more confidence as the tournament progressed and he finished averaging 11.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. The Hungarian forward has excellent shooting tools: smooth release, really fluid and nearly lethal off the catch. He can also hit mid range shots off the dribble attacking the closeout with couple of dribbles. Maronka showed high-level court vision while driving to the basket being able to find cuts, big men and spot up shooters. He can be turnover prone: needs to improve his high dribble and decision making.
Virtus Bologna was the only Italian team involved in the Spanish ANGT stage, who ended up with a 2-1 record in his group, with all the three games ended with a very close gap. But that was not enough to beat hosting team Valencia in the final to get the pass for Vitoria. Senegalese center Gora Camara (’01), was one of the most awaited prospects in the competition, and he met the expectations being awarded as the MVP of the entire tournament: he finished with 12.3 points per game adding 15.5 rebounds (4.3 offensive boards) for a 2nd best index rating in the tournament (24.0), with also 7.8 fouls drawn. With his stunning body, he’s been nearly unstoppable in the low post, being able to use it properly to get the closest possible to the rim, where he can turn on both shoulders pretty quickly with a solid use of his pivotal foot, but his array of moves is still too limited having also very raw hands and struggling finishing against length. Still uncomfortable putting his feet outside the paint to develop a proper midrange game. His rebounding ability is pretty good, crashes the boards with aggressiveness and high energy, but has troubles boxing out his opponents in the defensive half court, seems to lose his focus very quickly. Matteo Nicoli (’01) has played a solid tournament, as his abilities as a 3-point shooter came up strong in the qualifiers (42.9% from behind the arc in the first three games), being one of the last to give up in the final against Valencia. He knows perfectly which spots he must take to get the ball for a clean shot, both in transition or against a set up defense, and his fluent and quick shooting motion has been lethal and accurate in catch and shoots. He’s also able to get to the basket driving with both hands, despite not being a great creator for his teammates off the dribble as he prefers to find his own way to the basket. He averaged 15.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.8 steals in almost 32 minutes per game. Alongside with Nicoli, Gabriele Procida (’02), on loan from Cantù, had a great final game but it wasn’t enough to get the win against the hosting team. His skinny frame wasn’t a problem for him to drive to the rim with confidence, being able also to share the ball and find the better positioned teammate. Great fighter for rebounds, mixes a good sense of positions with leaping and a strong will to grab the ball. Had issues with his 3-point shot: had bad percentages in the four games, but his shooting stroke and shots selection were very good, together with smart movements off the ball. Can attack closeouts with very fluid midrange pull-ups, smooth and high point of release.
Photo by Miguel Angel Polo