By Biel Colominas

Basketball national competitions stop this weekend because of the second window of the EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers. The absence of NBA and Euroleague players in these events gives a good opportunity to young players to earn minutes with their National Teams, and this season due to the pandemic, the odds to see young prospects on the court are even higher than usual. 

Group A in Valencia, Spain: Israel, Poland, Romania and Spain

Israel will have the chance to almost seal its spot for the upcoming EuroBasket. Noam Dovrat (‘02), who was named MVP in the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship Division B, is with the team in Valencia. Dovrat is averaging 12 points and 3.5 assists in his first 4 games in the Israel Basketball Super League.

6-foot-5 point guard Lukasz Kolenda (‘99) is the name to keep an eye on in Poland. Although he didn’t spend much time on the floor, Kolenda was part of the Polish team during the first window, and he has had a pretty good start of the season with Trefl Sopot in the Polish TBL, so he could certainly have some minutes in Valencia. 

Romania has been significantly harmed by the Covid-19, as 5 players were tested positive this last week and coach Tudor Costescu has been forced to complete the final list with some young players without any experience with the Senior National Team: Lucas Tohatan (‘99), Tudor Fometescu (‘99), Marcu Badiu (‘00), Mihai Maciuca (‘00) and Stefan Grasu (‘03).

Group B in Tallinn, Estonia: Estonia, Italy, Russia and North Macedonia

Kerr Kriisa (‘01) made all the way down from Arizona to help Estonia since he hasn’t been declared eligible for the NCAA yet. Kriisa can take advantage of Kullamae’s absence and make himself a place in Estonia’s backcourt. Dinamo Sassari forward Kaspar Treier (‘99) is also in the team list. It’s still unclear but very unlikely that Sander Raieste (‘99) and Henri Drell (‘00) will join the team in Tallinn. 

The first appearance of Paolo Banchero (‘02) with the Italian National Team is yet to happen, as he decided to not to travel to Europe due Covid-19 preventive measures. However, Alessandro Pajola (‘99) from Virtus Bologna and Giordano Bortolani (‘00) from Germani Brescia are in Italy’s final list, and their regular contribution in both Serie A and Eurocup is an enough reason to see them on the court in Tallinn. 

North Macedonia is clearly the most needed team in the group after losing the first two games in the previous qualifiers. 2021 class UNC-Greensboro commit Luka Savicevic (‘02) and Andrej Mitrevski (‘03) will have the opportunity to play. 

Group C in Vilnius, Lithuania: Lithuania, Belgium, Czech Republic and Denmark

The host team has been forced to make some modifications in its final list due to positive tests of a few players. The lack of a reliable point guard has been a concern for Lithuania in recent years, Arnas Velicka (‘99) and Augustas Marciulionis (‘02) will share the point guard position in Vilnius, and they will have the chance to make themselves a name for the upcoming events. Zalgiris big Marek Blazevic (‘01) has joined the team in these recent changes, and he could get some minutes as a backup of Birutis. Euroleague competition doesn't stop so Jokubaitis ('00) won't join the National Team and remains with Zalgiris.

Belgium is in the first place of the group so winning both games will certificate their ticket for the EuroBasket. Vrenz Bleijenbergh (‘00) has established himself as one of the main players of Antwerp in the Belgian first division and Eurocup, so he is expected to have a good amount of minutes with Belgium. Oostende’s big man Haris Bratanovic (‘01) and Limburg’s forward Leander Dedroog (‘99) complete Belgium’s roster.

Czech Republic already has a place in the EuroBasket since it is one of the four hosts, but it is a good test for them to try some not usual players in a team that performed very well in the last World Cup. Luvos Kobar (‘00) from Nymburk, and Radek Farsky ('99) and Richard Balint (‘02) from Brno, have played solid games in the Czech top league and they could have the first minutes with the National Team. 

Group D in Istanbul, Turkey: Turkey, Croatia, Netherlands and Sweden

Turkey should win the two games in this window to keep their chances to participate in the EuroBasket 2022. Besiktas prospects Alperen Sengun (‘02) and Sehmus Hazer (‘99) have been performing extremely well in the Basketball Super League so far, and they were key contributors of Turkish Youth National Teams success in the FIBA Tournaments in recent years. There are enough reasons to see them playing their first minutes with the National Team in Istanbul. 

After winning the first two games, Croatia is heading to Istanbul with the opportunity to earn a ticket for the EuroBasket 2022 if they win both games. Mateo Dreznjak (‘99) was the best scorer for Croatia in the previous window and is expected to have an important role again. Antonio Jordano (‘99) made himself a place in the list thanks to his great performances in the Croatian League. All the looks here will be on the potential 2021 NBA Draft prospect Roko Prkacin (‘02), who is having a breakout season with Cibona. 

Keye van der Vuurst (‘01) participated in 15 minutes per game in the previous window, and his solid performances with Oostende make him a clear candidate for a starter spot. Yannick Kraag (‘02), a top 10 player in the 2002-born Eurohopes rankings, has recently played his first minutes with Joventut Badalona first team, and he might have the opportunity to make his debut with the Dutch National Team as well. 

Melwin Pantzar (‘00) is the only young player representing Sweden in the Istanbul bubble. After a disappointing season in Monaco, Pantzar is now having solid minutes in Valladolid (LEB Oro). 

Group E in Espoo, Finland: Finland, Georgia, Serbia and Switzerland

Finland is hosting the second window of the qualifiers where they will face the toughest opponents of the group: Georgia and Serbia. Former Arizona State player Elias Valtonen (‘99), who decided to move to Tübingen (Germany) this season, is part of the roster. 2021 Santa Clara commit Max Besselink (‘02) could make his debut in his first call-up. 

Igokea’s forward Dalibor Ilic (‘00) is the only young player who will attend the event for Serbia. Despite being consolidated at the pro level, it will be difficult for Ilic to earn a lot of minutes in Finland as there are more experienced players in both forward positions. 

Group F in Ljubljana, Slovenia: Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and Ukraine

Jurij Macura (‘99), who is playing in Koper Primorska loaned by Baskonia, has got a spot in Slovenia final list after his solid performances in the Adriatic League. Krka wing Miha Skedelj (‘99) will represent Slovenia too. 

Hungarian Tamas Pallai (‘01) and Norbert Lukacs (‘01), who both participated in the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship Division B, complete the list of 13 players that will play in Ljubljana.

Erol Ersek (‘99) is one of the leaders of Bayern Munich II, and his remarkable performances in the German Pro B helped him to get a place in the Austrian National Team.

Group G in Pau, France: Germany, Great Britain, Montenegro and France

In the most tight group, Germany is missing his most talented players as they are playing in the NBA and Euroleague. Len Schoorman (‘02) will have the chance to make his first appearance with his country.  

2021 Wake Forrest commit Cameron Hildreth (‘02) is having a tremendous season in the top division in England; he will have his first minutes with the National Team in his first call-up. Kareem Queeley (‘01), who participated in some ACB games with San Pablo Burgos a few weeks ago, is joining the team in Pau as well. 

The final list of Montenegro has ACB players Dino Radoncic (‘99) from Gipuzkoa Basket, and Jovan Kljajic (‘01) from Bilbao Basket (loaned by Gran Canaria). 6-foot-6 shooting guard Fedor Zugic (‘03) (#5 in the 2003-born Eurohopes ranking) just set his best individual performance with Buducnost in the Adriatic League so he could play his first minutes with the National Team. 

Group H in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece and Latvia

A good start of the season playing for Split will help Sani Campara (‘99) to get minutes at the point guard position for Bosnia. Spars Sarajevo big Kenan Kamenjas (‘00) made the final roster thanks to his good performances in the Bosnia & Herzegovina Liga. 

Bulgaria will try to consolidate the second place of the group by winning games against Bosnia & Herzegovina and Greece. Tsvetomir Chernokojev (‘00), a breakout performer in the 2019 FIBA U20 European Championship Division B, was called in the first window and he will be part of the team again in Sarajevo. Power forward Krastan Krastanov (‘99) is also in the final list as well. 

Greece is missing most of its best players, but they still have the most talented team in the group. After dominating all the FIBA Youth Tournaments he played so far, Nikos Rogkavopoulos (‘01) has the chance to represent the Greek National Team for the first time. 

More Qualifiers

The second window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers are underway with the following youngsters to take part of: Albanian Giseld Ndreca (‘01), Ferdi Bedini (‘99), Eldi Hysa (‘99) and Nikola Ivanaj (‘00); Belarussian Daniil Barysevich ('01); Cypriot, Ioannis Giannaras (‘99), Georgios Tretiakov (‘00) and Filippos Tigkas (‘02); Luxembourger Ben Kovac (‘00) and Mike Feipel (‘00). Slovakian Matej Majercak (‘99), Tomas Pavelka (‘00) and Timotej Malovec ('04); Portuguese Francisco Amarante (‘00), Rafael Lisboa (‘99) and Vladyslav Voytso (‘99). 

The AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers has a bunch of young prospects currently playing in Europe. Amar Sylla (‘01) from Oostende and Mbaye Ndiaye (‘99) from Blois are representing Senegal. Allan Dokossi (‘99) from For-sur-Mer is playing for Central African Republic. And Nancy point guard Siriman Kanoute (‘01), one of the leaders of the 2019 U19 World Cup silver medalist Mali, joined the Senior National Team for this window. 

6-foot-8 Barcelona forward Gael Bonilla (‘03) was called to represent Mexico during the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 Qualifiers. Gran Canaria guard Jean Montero ('03) (#2 in 2003-born Eurohopes ranking) has travelled with Dominican Republic.