By Eugenio Agostinelli

The Young Guns GBA Invitational 2019 was held in Prague, Czech Republic, from the 22nd to the 24th of February.
Final: USK Prague – Get Better Academy 62 - 57
3rd place game: Stellazzurra Rome – Virtus Bologna 80 - 70
5th place game: FC Barcelona – Valencia Basket 99 – 91 (OT)
7th place game: Wroclaw – IBA Munich 90 - 83
MVP: Seikou Sisoho Jawara (Get Better Academy)
All-Tournament Team: František Fuxa (USK Prague), Matteo Nicoli (Virtus Bologna), David Böhm (USK Prague), Marc Garcia (Valencia), Kacper Klaczek (Stellazzurra Rome)
USK Prague had large wins in the first two days over IBAM and Stellazzurra Rome, and played an almost perfect game in the Final against GBA to get the gold. František Fuxa (’00) made the All-Tournament Team thanks to his notable effort in the championship game (18+10 – 5 offensive boards). The 6’9 center had a great impact inside both painted areas, being able to score with good moves in the post and chase countless rebounds. Defensively he’s an impactful presence both physically and mentally, being very talkative with teammates and not afraid to put his body to protect the paint. David Böhm (’01) showed once again his offensive skills, although he struggled scoring with high percentages. The game comes at him naturally, he loves to pull-up from midrange and shoot above defenders but he’s an average slasher. Passing selection is shaky, he isn’t a big threat out of the pick&roll, lacking a proper burst to attack the rim. Guard Patrick Samoura (’00) is a natural ball handler, playing with poise and unselfishness. He can drive and kick the ball out hitting open shooters or going through defenders and finish at the rim, being a solid decision-maker. Listed at 6’5 with a solid frame, Samoura is a pesky on-ball defender that can pick up full court the opposing ball handler, getting crafty steals. Kristian Kocáb (’02) displayed his good rebounding instincts, being extremely active under the offensive glass and finishing off second chances. He moves quite well off the ball but still has a raw and limited array of moves, as he struggles to finish in post-up plays also against smaller opponents, because of his skinny frame.
Host team Get Better Academy had a good tournament overall, but it was not enough to get the win against USK Prague in the championship game. Spanish lefty guard Seikou Sisoho Jawara (’00) had a very good showing, being also awarded with the MVP trophy and averaging 17.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3 assists, while shooting 16/28 from inside the arc. He acts as the primary ball handler, his solid frame and natural instincts off the dribble make him a good slasher not afraid of contacts. He made most of his damages out of the pick&roll, as he can finish at the rim or seek the best positioned teammate with good passing selection. He is able to hit tough jumpers off the dribble with a good stroke, but perimetral efficiency still comes and goes. Estonian Artur Konontšuk (’00) is a high-motor forward that brings a lot of energy on the floor coming off the bench. He’s able to spread the floor with his accurate three-points shot, but has also solid handle and nimbleness to attack closeouts and finish at the rim. His defensive presence and versatility were highly important, as he displayed light feet to switch and stay with guards. Big man Gabriel Chachashvili (’99) also had a very good tournament. He still hasn’t typical frame for a 5, but has length and will to put his body against bigger men, with good timing for blocks. The Israeli guy showed good moves inside the paint, being also able to set good screens and pop for jump shots or drives attacking closeouts.
Stellazzurra Rome lacked some talent to fight for the gold, and they got the best of Virtus Bologna in the 3rd place final. Polish forward Kacper Klaczek (’02) took more offensive tasks and acted as the vocal leader of the Italian team. He played mainly as a 4, exploring the low post from where he can finish with soft touch and attack closeouts with safe handle. Hard-nosed rebounder: he averaged 11.0 rebounds per game, doing also a great job converting offensive boards. He’s an efficient secondary ball handler thanks to above average vision and skills, mixed with nice instincts. Leo Menalo (’02) showed glimpses of his talent, but still lacks self-awareness and toughness to be impactful at high level. Swingman listed at 6’9, can both shoot smoothly off the dribble or drive inside attacking closeouts, lacks confidence on his skills. His frame mixed with his feel for the game are extremely interesting, but he’ll need to learn how to better deal with physical contacts. Nikodem Czoska (’02) is a 6’7 forward with undeveloped frame that showed nice instincts overall. He has some potential because of his size, good mobility and proper handle, but he still doesn’t excel in anything and must be more focused and tough on the floor.
Virtus Bologna wasn’t able to get the bronze in the Italian final against Stellazzurra Rome, after being crushed by GBA in the second game. Matteo Nicoli (’01) had a breakout tournament in Prague, ending with 20 points, 4 rebounds and 2.2 assists, being named in the All-Tournament Team. Measuring 6’4, he’s a guard with average frame but surprisingly good explosiveness to finish at the rim and play with high motor on both ends. Nicoli plays the pick&roll with poise, being skillful enough to create his shot off the dribble or find the open man with nice instincts. Big man from Senegal Gora Camara (’01) brought a big effort in the 3rd place game with 14 points and 16 boards in 26 minutes. He had high efficiency in the post, using properly power moves to get closer to the rim, where sometimes he had issues going against length with his lack of explosiveness. It was interesting to watch him trying jumpshots in warm-up and also during games: motion seems decent, should make it more compact. Guard Niccolò Venturoli (’00) helped his team with his vision and passing skills, being able to play the pick&roll and run the break with good looks for cutters and spot-up shooters. He has a good change of pace in 1-on-1 situations, as he can pull-up from midrange or find his way to the rim with a strong use of his left hand. Pesky defender on the ball, uses well his long arms to deflect and play through passing lanes.
Without Tom Digbeu and Haris Bratanovic, a young FC Barcelona group ended with a 5th place in Prague. The most awaited prospect was surely Ibou Dianko Badji (’02), the 7’1 Senegalese that displayed extremely wild skills but an enormous upside. Badji’s athleticism and size were hard to match in the competition, mixed with a good body balance when he had to grab and finish in transition. His skillset and touch from inside the paint are still raw, as he mainly scores out of offensive boards or with powerful dunks under the glass. He averaged 10.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and almost 3 blocks, shooting 65.6% from the field. British big man Matthew Marsh (’02) showed improvements in his overall game, being able to slide with decent lateral quickness and intimidate around the rim. He’s developing a better pick&roll game, finishing decently inside the area with his explosiveness, but he lacks a reliable shooting range from outside the paint. Swingman Pau Carreño (’01) stepped up in absence of Digbeu taking more responsibilities in the Catalan offense, driving through defense or taking smooth midrange pull-ups. He has decent size but lacks explosiveness, that makes him a bit predictable attacking off the dribble.
The most aggressive team of the competition, Valencia Basket, ended up in 6th place after a thrilling OT loss against FC Barcelona. Guard Marc Garcia (’01) was included in the All-Tournament Team despite an erratic showing in the tournament. Good shooter off the catch, he loves to play at high pace and to push the ball in transition: he’s good at kicking the ball on the perimeter, but loves also to attack the rim fearlessly despite measuring only 6’1. Alonso Faure (’02) displayed once again his versatility both inside and outside the paint, converting second chance shots under the offensive glass with good instincts and showing above average skills in the post. His lack of size and explosiveness keep him from succeeding in the low post against bigger opponents, being unable to shoot above defenders. Forward Alejandro Gragueiro (’02) is worth to be mentioned, after ending the tournament with 15 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He’s not the most talented player in his team, but he loves to do all of the dirty work and drive at the rim finishing through contact.
The less talented team was probably WKK Wroclaw, which got their only win in the 7th place game against IBAM. Jan Zieniewicz (’02) is an intriguing guy for them: he’s a 6’9 skinny-framed forward that still lacks proper skillset to play at the 4, but has interesting physical tools to work on. He’s good playing in transition and finishing keeping his balance, but his defensive effort is still poor. He ended the tournament averaging 9.2 points and 7.3 rebounds in almost 20 minutes. The most impactful player was Michał Kroczak (’00), a 6’2 guard with fluid shooting motion and high point of release both off the catch and off the dribble. He makes proper use of his nice footwork to come off screens and hit jumpshots, but he’s not that good creator off the dribble and playing the pick&roll. In 22.1 minutes, he scored 13 points shooting 33% from distance.
Last place in the tournament for IBA Munich, that ended with an 0-3 record showing some interesting but still undeveloped guys. Joshua Obiesie (’00) was the main attraction of the German side, but he only played 26’ in the whole competition due to an injury. He’s self-aware of his high-level skills, trying to beat his man with nice handle and sudden change of pace, but his shot selection must be improved. He as a wide array of solutions running the pick&roll: can pull-up with fluid shooting form if defense goes under or hit teammates reading defense craftly. Isaiah Ihnen (’00) displayed a remarkable leadership on the floor in Obiesie’s absence, being very talkative on both ends of the court. He’s still skinny and lanky measuring 6’8, but his impressive athleticism and great burst make him a threat driving and finishing at the rim. His handle is still raw and his decision-making is shaky, but he’s unselfish and a good teammate overall. Another solid performer was Jens Grossmann (’00), 6’8 forward with a strong frame and good mobility on both ends. He’s not the main guy but does many useful things on the court, moving well off the ball and rotating properly on defense filling the paint. His handle is good given his size, being able to attack closeouts finishing smoothly around the rim, despite lacking explosiveness. Swingman Tristan Da Silva (’01) showed glimpses of talent running the break, as he can both lead the transition and run the floor properly. Still thin but he has decent length for his role, mixed with good handle and vision that allow him to start offensive plays.

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