|07 August 2012|
U18 MEN DIVISION B
Belarus, England, Hungary, Israel, Romania and Scotland are the six teams who will fight it out to reach the next phase of the tournament in Group A.
|Daniel Sealine and Israel need a top-two finish to emerge from Group A |
Israel are hoping this will be their year having spent the last couple of summers in Division B, something which many agree is already beginning to feel too long and they could potentially emerge as strong contenders.
It was two years ago which proved the most painful, losing in the semi-finals against Finland and missing out on a return.
Last summer, they slipped down to a seventh place finish but hopes are high Israel can do it this year and certainly the expectation is that they will produce a strong tournament.
The 1.83m guard Daniel Sealine should be one of the players who can help the Israeli team realize its ambitions.
While the Israelis aren't as powerfully built or have the size of some other teams, they do possess the athleticism, intense defense and transition game to make an impact.
Highly rated point-guard Naor Sharon is someone who can certainly make a splash while small forward Rafael Menco had a solid tournament last summer in Varna and both his experience and versatility will be important.
It's an eighth consecutive summer in in Division B for Hungary, who were a respectable eighth in Bulgaria last year.
It will take a big effort to make that next step and compete for one of the promotion spots.
Out of the team which stepped out in Varna, power forward Marton Varga will be welcomed back and will be a boost to Hungary in the paint.
A number of the players who performed well at the U16 European Championship Division B last year in Strumica will step up, including Zoltan Perl who will pull the strings in the backcourt.
The U16 team was an entire 1995 generation team and they could find it difficult this summer but perhaps 2013 will be the year when Hungary makes its' strongest push rather than this time around.
Sadly for Romania, they had to wave goodbye to the prolific rebounding prowess of Alexandru Olah who averaged a stunning 14 board per game last year in Varna, the second best in the tournament.
This helped Romania to an eleventh place finish but since Olah, who was also called into the preliminary roster of Romania's EuroBasket QUalification Round campaign is 1993 born, he can't return.
Nevertheless, his work on the glass could be replicated to some extent by Vlad Cobzaru who was the second best rebounder last summer at the U16 European Championship Division B.
In fact, Cobzaru averaged a tournament double-double and that helped him secure a first campaign of top flight club basketball in Romania last season.
Romania has tasted life in Division A before, back during 2007, although it will clearly take something special to get there again.
|Point guard Luke Nelson is from the younger 1995 generation but should be a scoring threat for England|
Hopes are high that England can post a strong performance, built off the back of their successful U16 team which gained promotion to Division A last summer.
Last year they posted a pretty miserable finish in fourteenth spot and at the very least, a top eight finish would be an aim although next summer they could potentially go even further.
Londoner Luke Nelson will provide the scoring power from the backcourt and Kingsley Okoroh who attends Findlay Prep school in the States will be the main man on the glass along with returnee Rowell Graham.
Mo Soluade has some of the quickest hands in the business and his defensive capabilities are part of the reason he was snapped up by Spanish giant Unicaja.
The Scotland team returns to the U18 European Championship Division B after taking a sabbatical from competition at this level last summer. And, they will relish one game at least and that is locking horns with the ‘Auld Enemy' England.
This will be a team very much eager to make up for lost time having competed two years ago at the U16 European Championship Division C in Andorra where they took a silver medal.
Shooter Jack Nicholson will provide the ammunition and he is expected to be the main thrust of the Scottish offence and could form a productive backcourt partnership with combo guard Ryan McKay.
McKay averaged almost four assists per game in 2010 while 2.01m centre Joshua McGilvray will be the main harvester of rebounds.
As with Scotland, Belarus also returns after a period of absence having finished in ninth place a couple of years ago.
They will also rely heavily on the 1994 generation which competed at U16 level during 2010 although they participated in Division B.
The dominating figure back then and someone to look out for again is centre Anton Vashkevish who posted a near tournament double-double and will take some stopping under the hoop.
Meanwhile Aliaksei Pahireichyk is a 1.98m forward who also has range so teams will have to watch for him drifting out to the three-point line where he can definitely make a shot when it matters.