By Biel Colominas
The 40th edition of L’Hospitalet Tournament took place from January the 4th to January the 6th.
Final: Gran Canaria - Joventut Badalona 103-86
All-Tournament Team: Khalifa Diop (MVP - Gran Canaria), Jovan Kljajic (Gran Canaria), Vinicius Da Silva (Joventut Badalona), Abramo Penè (Stellazzurra Rome), Isaac Mayo (CB L’Hospitalet)
Group A
ALBA Berlin ended up in last place only winning one game. German wing Malte Delaw (‘01) was the top performer, averaging 15.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, shooting 52.2 from three. He is a 6’6 swingman who plays with high motor on both ends and shows fearless attitude to attack the basket despite not having a particularly athletic or physical body. Delaw has a consistent shooting stroke and feels pretty comfortable shooting off the catch, but his average ball-skills and lack of explosiveness don’t make him able to create his shot one-on-one. He has above average court vision while driving to the basket and he usually takes the best decision. Point guard Dai Hao (‘02) has above average size for a point guard. He is crafty playmaker with good ball skills, great quickness and change of pace that allow him to beat his man on one-on-one and find his way to the rim. Hao showed quite good passing ability but he can be turnover prone because of his shaky decision making and his tendency to play always at high speed. He displayed poor focus and commitment on defensive end. Evans Rapieque (‘02) is a point guard with below average athleticism who plays with poise and maturity, setting the pace on offense for his team. He is an average P&R player due to his poor ball skills and lack of quickness, but he showed interesting court vision after turning the corner and driving to the basket. Rapieque has a weird and slow shooting release, but he shot efficiently in spot up situations, particularly from the corner. On defense, he has great lateral mobility and quick feet which make him really difficult to beat.
After winning just one game in the group phase, Partizan Belgrade beat the host team L’Hospitalet in the 5th place game. Center Dusan Tanaskovic (‘01) had a solid tournament averaging 18.2 points, 8 rebounds per game. He has good size for his position but below average athleticism and needs to add weight to his frame; despite that it is worthy to mention his toughness and willingness to play against other big men under the basket. Tanaskovic showed solid low post game: nice footwork, soft touch especially with his right hand, ability to turn around both shoulders and interesting court vision to pass the ball to the weak side. Djordje Pazin (‘01) lacks athleticism and doesn’t have a particularly good frame for his position, but has proper size. The Serbian wing has high-level ability to shoot off the catch thanks to quick and consistent shooting mechanics, can hit shots from deep long range and he knows how to get free spots to shoot thanks to smart off ball movements. Pazin played lot of time as a primary ball-handler, something which showed his poor ability to play the P&R and create for himself and his team. He also displayed questionable attitude on the court throughout the tournament. He averaged 18 points, shooting 46% from beyond the arc. Lazar Stefanovic (‘02) has great shooting tools, being able to shoot well both off the dribble and off the catch. He showed solid ball-handling ability and change of pace that allowed him to play well the P&R to create for himself and others. He played with remarkable motor and competitiveness on both ends of the court. Forward Luka Tarlac (‘02) was the most intriguing player of Partizan given his size, frame and athleticism. He stood out mainly as a defender, being able to defend from the point guard to the power forward spots thanks to his lateral mobility, quick feet and solid frame which has lot of upside. His basketball IQ is still to develop though.
FC Barcelona ended up in 3rd position after losing in semi finals against Joventut Badalona 86-83. Center Haris Bratanovic (‘01) was the most productive player of his team, averaging 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He has size and a huge body to be dominant in this level of competition, but his lack of athleticism limits his upside. Bratanovic showed high basketball IQ, elite court vision and passing skills from different spots of the court: he was able to play high-low from the high post, and to find cuts and weak side shooters from the low post. He can shoot from mid and long range but his motion is still slow. His attitude was up and down in the tournament. Tom Digbeu (‘01) had a remarkable tournament averaging 16.2 points, 3.7 assists, 2.5 steals and 2 blocks per game. Digbeu is a flashy wing with amazing quickness and leaping ability, who constantly found his way to get to the basket and finished with dunks, floaters or feeding his teammates, showing intriguing passing skills. He is especially effective in transition and attacking on the move due to his lack of elite ball-handling skills. Shooting mechanics are still not consistent and are not fluid, but his shot off the dribble looks more natural than off the catch. Matthew Marsh (‘02) has good size and high-level explosiveness which allows him to play easily above the rim on both ends of the court, being able to finish with powerful dunks on offense and blocking shots at high rate on defense. Marsh has good mobility for his size, and he did a great job running the floor in transition. His basketball IQ and skills are still raw: their improvement in the coming years will mark his potential. Gael Bonilla (‘03) was the most intriguing player for FC Barcelona. Listed at 6’7 with an undeveloped body and good length, he is natural with the ball in his hands thanks to above average ball-handling ability, can pass the ball while driving to the basket with nice court vision and he is able to score with soft layups using his length.
Gran Canaria won the championship game, beating Joventut Badalona in the final with a tremendous 23-0 run and hitting 6 threes in the second quarter. Big man Khalifa Diop (‘02) was named MVP of the tournament; he averaged 15.8 points, 10.6 rebounds (3.4 on offensive end) and 2.2 blocks, while shooting 59.3% from two. Listed at 6’10 with really strong body frame and above average explosiveness and strength, Diop was nearly unstoppable for his opponents. He proved to be able to score in different ways: spinning or facing up in the low post, putting the ball on the floor to beat his man off the dribble, outrebounding his opponents on offense or shooting from midrange with remarkable elevation. Diop dunked nearly all he had in his hands under the basket, but he also showed soft touch around the rim. On defense, he showed to have good lateral mobility to switch on screens and stay with smaller players; he also brought huge intimidation in the paint, thanks to his impressive shot-blocking instincts. Combo guard Jovan Kljajic (‘01) had another outstanding performance in L’Hospitalet, averaging 15 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals, while shooting 55.5 % from the field. The Montenegrin guard has good size, a physical body and plays with energy all the time, showing also tremendous leadership. Kljajic is a high-level ball-handler able to create his own shot thanks also to a smart use of his body, stepbacks and great knowledge on when to change pace; shot selection is sometimes shaky though. He has elite passing skills and basketball IQ, and he’s able to find the best option to score while driving to the basket or turning the corner out of the P&R. He plays defense with high motor and focus, displaying low center of gravity and quick feet to stay in front of his man.  Spanish wing Oier Ardanza (‘01) added 11.8 points per game while shooting 36.8% from beyond the arc, winning the Three-Point Shooting Contest. Ardanza played with energy and helped a lot in rebounding, finishing with 7.8 rebounds per game (3.2 on offensive end). His shooting ability off the catch is good and he features a very soft release. 6’7 wing Miguel Serrano (‘01) had an important role, contributing with high intensity on both ends thanks to his size, athleticism and mobility; he showed ability to guard multiple positions, to crash boards on offense and to play easily above the rim. Serrano made a great job stretching the floor as well, hitting threes in spot up situations with a pretty consistent and quick release.
Group B
Tecnyconta Zaragoza was invited to the tournament the day before its start to replace NBA Academy Africa, which was once again stopped from playing in an international tournament because of visa issues. The Spanish team ended up the tournament in 7th position only winning the final game against ALBA Berlin in OT. Big man Jaime Pradilla (‘01) was the leader of the team and proved to be dominant in every game averaging 23 points and 12.7 rebounds (5.5 on the offensive end) per game, while shooting 60% from two and leading the tournament in scoring. He has below average athleticism but he knows how to use his strong body to take advantages on both ends of the court, as he loves to play against contact. Pradilla is an advanced low post player: he has high-level footwork, can turn around both shoulders, has soft touch with hook shots and he is patient to choose the right moment to score using fakes. He has above average court vision and passing ability from the low post as well, being able to hit the ball to spot up shooters on the weak side. Pradilla showed his ability to shoot from beyond the arc in spot up situations, but it is still not consistent. Javier Garcia (‘01) is a small but quick and aggressive point guard, showed nice ball-handling and quick shooting release off the dribble in P&R sets and he was productive driving and kicking out the ball to corner shooters thanks to pretty good court vision. He averaged 8.2 points, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
The host team CB L’Hospitalet finished in the 6th position, but they showed great competitiveness and gave serious battle in the phase group just losing one game and barely missing semifinals. They placed Isaac Mayo (‘01) in the All-Tournament Team, as he averaged 14 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. He is an undersized forward who has impact in many aspects of the game thanks to his energy and toughness, Mayo showed quite explosive first step, solid footwork and use of pivots on the low post. He also has good court vision to find baseline cuts while driving to the basket and playing in the low post. He has a nose for rebounds and he always gets some points after offensive rebounds. Mayo also showed good feel for the game. 6’9 big man Danil Cherneha (‘01) was productive moving well off the ball under the basket and stretching the floor for his team. Cherneha can score with both hands under the basket, he is able to hit shots from mid and long range off the catch and showed solid court vision from the low post, being able to pass the ball nicely to the weak side with both hands. Has to improve is toughness and commitment on defense and in rebounding.
Stellazzurra Rome came in L’Hospitalet with an extremely young roster with some 2003 and 2004 born players, but they still managed to finish in 4th position after losing against Gran Canaria 87-61 in the semifinal. The best performer for the Italian team was Abramo Penè (‘02), who was placed in the All-Tournament Team after averaging 17.7 points and 10 rebounds per game. An extremely athletic player, he has promising frame and plays with high motor on both ends of the court. Penè loves to push the ball in transition, he has strong first step to attack closeouts and can drive to the basket and finish absorbing contacts with dunks or smooth floaters with his right hand. He needs to improve his shooting and be less selfish while driving to the basket as he sometimes prefers to take a forced shot instead of passing the ball. Lefty big man Yannick Nzosa (‘03) has intriguing potential thanks to his combination of size, length and mobility but he is extremely skinny at the moment. The Congolese has limited skillset but he has good hands to receive the ball on the move in transition and on the P&R, and then finishing with soft layups with his left hand. Nzosa was mainly productive on the defensive end: his mobility and low center of gravity allow him to switch screens and stay with smaller players using his long arms to contest the shot, he also has good instincts as a shot blocker and he finished averaging 2.2 blocks per game. He needs to work on his body frame, as he struggles to play against physical contact right now, and on his basketball IQ. Felipe Motta (‘03) had some interesting performances during the tournament. He is a wing with efficient shooting tools off the catch thanks to quite consistent release, but he sometimes lacks strength on his legs to get elevation. Motta played mainly off the ball, and thanks to his good basketball IQ he knew where to move to be on a free spot to receive the ball and shoot. He showed good decisions when had to attack the closeout and finish with floaters and pull-ups. Italian point guard Matteo Visintin (‘04) was important for Stellazzurra despite being three years younger than the competition. He is an early bloomer from a physical standpoint, he played with personality and fearless attitude; he was able to create attacking the basket, using his quickness to score with layups, finishing against contact or hitting the ball to corner shooters. Visintin also showed some interesting pull up jumpers with quick and good elevation. Venezuelan Fabrizio Pugliatti (‘04) showed some flashes of his promising potential. A 6’4 shooting guard with very undeveloped body and long arms, he plays with personality, looks natural with the ball in his hands and he is able to beat his man on one-on-one using well hesitations and change of pace. Pugliatti should improve his commitment and position on defense.
Joventut Badalona had a bad start in L’Hospitalet losing against Stellazzurra Rome and struggling to beat the host team. Despite that, they won against FC Barcelona in semifinals and reached the final where they lost to Gran Canaria. Vinicius Da Silva (‘01) had another remarkable performance and was named in the All-Tournament Team averaging 14.2 points, 12.4 rebounds (3.8 on the offensive end) and 1.4 blocks per game. Vinicius stood out thanks to his combination of size, length and mobility that allow him to have an important impact for his team. He has good hands to receive the ball under the basket and while rolling, he can score softly with both hands and has nice timing to finish with alley oops; on the other hand, he attempted some mid-range and long-range shots but his shooting mechanics are far from being consistent. On defense, he used his length to intimidate drives and shots, his mobility and low center of gravity allowed him to guard penetrations from smaller players, but he struggled to stop stronger bodies like Pradilla or Diop under the basket. Forward Adria Domenech (‘02) had a breakout performance and made a step forward for his team especially in the important games. He took a great advantage of his coordination, quickness and ball-skills to beat his man several times off the dribble, then being able to easily drive the basket and score using his length and soft touch. Domenech has high basketball IQ, he knows how to move off the ball using cuts and backdoors and shows proper passing instincts. He has to work on his footwork to be able to guard one-on-one and playing against physical contact. He averaged 18.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Zsombor Maronka (‘02) showed high self-confidence and displayed his high-level ability to shoot off the catch finishing with 19.8 points and shooting a ridiculous 57.1% from beyond the arc (20/35 attempts). Maronka did a great job occupying the corners to be free for spot up shots and thanks to his consistent, quick and elegant mechanics he punished his opponents shooting with excellent efficiency. He showed interesting court vision and passing skills, but he needs to improve his decisions with the ball. Latvian big man Kriss Helmanis (‘02) hasn’t played many games with Joventut this season and he is still adapting to the team. A 6’10 player with an interesting body frame, well coordinated, knows how to move on the court and can shoot from mid and long range. Helmanis also showed some intriguing court vision and passing skills.
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