As the final stage of the games dawns we look back at some of the players who have so far taken the tournament by storm with some great individual performances.
There have been a number of surprises already in the tournament, and some great team showings from the likes of Latvia especially with their long unbeaten run taking them to the semis, but here we present the players who, irrespective of team performance, have simply been a pleasure to watch so far.
With the help of the head coaches, giving opinion and assessment on the players, these are the seven ones to watch at this year’s UMCOR U18 European Championships.
Dogus Balbay (Turkey)
|Dogus Balbay has played well for the Turks, averaging 17.5 points per contest. |
Antoine Diot (France)
The star of the defending champions, his presence in the national side had seemed almost a guarantee of a medal before his luck ran out in this tournament.
In his three previous European Championships he’s won three medals: two gold (U16s 2004 and U18s 2005) and one silver (U16s 2005). He also won bronze this summer with France at the U19 World Championships.
Despite missing out on the medals here he has still been one of the top performers in the competition.
A vocal team leader, his favourite role seems to be the player who takes charge of the play with the ball in his hands during the key moments of the game.
So far he averages 13.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Zygimantas Janavicius (Lithuania)
|Janavicius has experience at this level and it shows, with 12 point and five assists per contest.|
Kostas Koufos (Greece)
The American-born center with a Greek mother who comes to all his games is a rookie here at the tournament, and so far has probably been the revelation of the show.
He already has five double-doubles in six games, while he has led both the points and rebounds charts for the past few days now.
|Konstantinos Koufos has been dominant for Greece, recording a double-double most nights. |
Filip Kruslin (Croatia)
Perhaps a surprise inclusion with his side having tasted victory just once in the competition, but guard Filip Kruslin has shown in every game that he has excellent ability and can play well despite some of the performances of those around him.
He was key to his side’s solitary victory against Germany and consequent qualification to
|Though Spain failed to make the semi-finals Rubio has impressed.|
Milan Macvan (Serbia)
Big man Macvan is the key performer in a powerful and highly talented Serbian side, and is performing excellently here after winning the MVP award in the U19 World Championships last month.
An intimidating sight for the opposite side, Macvan scores well, especially from the free throw line, and despite his size and bulky form is still quite athletic.
His best attribute, however, is his game intelligence as he brings those around him into the play magnificently.
His averages thus far are 17 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Ricky Rubio (Spain)
The celebrity of the tournament and the darling of the Spanish fans, Ricky possess a maturity beyond his years in the game and already has two seasons at the top level of European basketball under his belt with DKV Joventut.
It’s a level he’s performed well at since his debut at 14 years, 11 months and 24 days old (the youngest in the history of the Spanish ACB league), as last season he led the ACB in steals.
A real force in the full court, with excellent vision and great composure in clutch time, he has led the Spanish side here with superior performances in the big games against Serbia and Lithuania, averaging 18.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game.
His coach, Luis Guil, while keen to play down his obvious talents for the sake of team unity still can’t help but sing his praises: “With his talent and his superior experience from the other guys at this level Ricky was always going to stand out here,” he said.
“The kid really is something else”.