By Felix Hilgart
Once again, the German basketball federation chose Frankfurt as the host city for the 2023 version of the NBBL & JBBL Final Four and invited the country’s fast growing basketball community to come and watch the nation’s best U19 and U16 teams competing for the title at the ‘Süwag Energie Arena’ on May 27th and 28th.
While ALBA Berlin managed to repeat their great success from last season, winning not only the U14 championship (84:76 against Bayern Munich on May 14th) but also the U16 and U19 championships, they had to fight hard all weekend to defend their titles.
ALBA’s JBBL survived a double-OT thriller (85:93) in the final against the U16 team of Frankfurt and needed an incredible 52-points-outing from their French prospect Mathieu Grujicic, converting 18 of his 28 shots, to counter another impressive performance by Frankfurt’s Ivan Crnjac (41 points on 14/35 FGs).
Here are the final results:
Young Rasta Dragons 60 – Eintracht Frankfurt/FRAPORT SKYLINERS 68
ALBA Berlin 84 – RheinStars Köln 79
Eintracht Frankfurt/FRAPORT SKYLINERS 85 – ALBA Berlin 93
TOP4 MVP (U16):
Mathieu Grujicic (ALBA Berlin)
Our new Scout Felix Hilgart made his way down to Frankfurt and gives a short overview of the most intriguing prospects of the tournament following:
Mathieu Grujicic (’07, ALBA Berlin)- 6‘4, SG/SF, France
Solid, very lean frame for a guard, that might eventually grow into tall a wing – his older brother (’04) is listed at 6’7. Still building out his body, but his muscle tone makes it seem that this should not be an issue if he is willing to put in the work in the weight room. Very aggressive and already versatile scorer can drive to and finish at the rim with both hands. Decent mid-range game & gets to the line almost at will (78% on 7.4 FTA over the season). Showed some tendencies of either hiding from the ball in big moments one time, then overshooting it another time. Too careless with the ball at times, even though most of the ALBA offense ran through him. Can be an excellent defender with his physical tools if he is engaged – needs to show more consistency on that side of the floor. Will be interesting to see how he adapts when playing with older guys on the next level once his offensive role changes – seems very self-confident and -centered.
Played in a league of his own all weekend, scoring 87 points on 31/51 FGs (6/11 from 3, 19/25 FTs), 19 REB, 7 AS, 8 STL, 11 TO over two games. His 52 points in a double OT game set a record for points scored in a JBBL-final.
Davi Remagen (’07, RheinStars Cologne)- 6‘1, SG/PG, Germany
Decent size for a ballhandling guard at his age, yet it has to be seen if he will still grow a couple of inches – both parents being below 6’0. Good, explosive frame. In combination with his very tight and for his age advanced handles he gets to every spot on the floor with ease. Showed some impressive finishing ability at the rim, also through contact. Drew plenty of fouls, relentlessly attacking the rim. Great motor, played all 40 mins in the semis, handling the majority of offensive duties while still having great impact defensively (6 STLs).
Outside shooting still a little shaky and inconsistent, even though he made 2 clutch 3s towards the end of the game, one of them from well behind the 3-point line – still shoots it well enough for the defense to close out on him (34.6% on 7.4 3PA over the season).
The MVP of this year's JBBL campaign looked superior to Grujicic in the direct matchup on both ends of the floor and kept his team in the game until the end. Finished with a game high 41 points on 12/31 FGs (3/10 from 3, 14/16 FTs) going along with 8 REB, 5 AS, 6 STL, 7 TO.
Ivan Crjnac (’07, Fraport Skyliners)- 6’7, SF/PF, Germany
Good size for a wing/big, looked even taller than the 6’7 he’s listed at. His running style is a little funky, has to add some serious core- and leg-strength in the upcoming years.
Interesting prospect as a ball handling/playmaking wing/big, brought up the ball a lot, initiating his team’s offense. Decent ball handler and driver for his size, also showed good touch with both hands around the rim. Still bails out the defense sometimes, taking ill-advised fade away shots in post-up situations instead of taking it to the rack. Shooting is a slight concern currently, even though he made some big 3s down the stretch in the final (28% on 4 3PA over the season). Shot selection was questionable at times, form looks ok, but will need some work in terms of balance and fluidity. Average defender, due to the lack of mobility.
Had an impressive 41 points with 9 rebounds to force ALBA Berlin into two overtimes in the final and a total of 60 points on 21/54 FGs (3/12 from 3, 15/22 FTs), 22 REB, 5 AS, 1 STL, 4 TO over both games of the weekend.