|16 August 2012|
Whilst all the talk at the Samsung U18 European Championship has been about Croatia's Dario Saric, there have been a number of other players to also stand out through the first two rounds of competition.
|Mislav Brzoja teams up with Dario Saric to be Croatia's one-two punch|
Often playing in the shadow of Saric, Croatian Mislav Brzoja has been a standout player on his own accord. Averaging 17.2 nights a game, his importance to Croata's success is no less than that of Saric, stepping up to the plate when Saric has been neutralised. Along with Saric, Brzoja was also rested in his team's loss to Bulgaria.
Coming into the tournament, more attention was being given to other players on the Italian team, but the skill-set of Amedeo Tessitori can not go unmentioned. With a sweet jump-shot, as well an ability to penetrate inside the paint, the 2.04 metre power forward is also an aggressive defender, averaging a tournament-high three blocked shots a night, alongside 5.8 rebounds. Tessitori's 18 points in 19 minutes against Ukraine were crucial in his team's advancement to the quarter-finals.
Bulgaria has been the surprise package at this year's tournament and whilst a lot of their success has been directed towards Aleksandar Vezenkov, playmaker Deyan Karamfilov has been the one calling the shots. With a knack for giving up big leads, Karamfilov has been the player to provide a cool head at the death when his team has needed it the most. The point guard is leading the tournament in assists, averaging 6.5 a night, along with 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds.
In a team being championed for the their all-round team play, Justas Tamulis has stood out slightly above his Lithuanian teammates. Striking at 39.5% from beyond the arc, the small forward has shown himself to have one of the best outside games at the tournament. Averaging 17.3 points a night,
|Nikola Jankovic is one of the most reliable inside powers in the championship|
Tamulis' average took a knock when he played limited minutes against Ukraine in a walkover win, whilst he did struggle a little in his team's final group game in the face of some extra attention from the Spanish defence.
Spain's Josep Perez and Alberto Diaz have to date provided the best backcourt combination in the tournament. Little separates the two players who work together seamlessly in coordinating the third-best offensive outfit in the competition. With a slight height advantage, Diaz likes to penetrate inside more often, whereas Perez's game is based predominantly outside the perimeter. Diaz is averaging 8.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists whilst Perez averages 11.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists.
Standing at 2.05 metres, Serbia's Nikola Jankovic makes sure his shots do not miss when he penetrates to the hoop. Averaging 15.7 points a night, the power forward is shooting at an impressive 64.4% from the field, a statistic that has sat above 70% in four of his six performances to date. Jankovic has also recorded two double-doubles, both of which have come in must-win games against Italy and Greece, showing himself to be a player who can be turned to in big moments. However, with a less-than-reliable free-throw shooting record, he does tend to become an easy target for fouls.