After Spain’s victory in the European Championship for U18 Men in Zaragoza, there was little doubt that team captain and point guard Sergio Rodriguez was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Rodriguez dazzled the crowds at the Pabellón Principe Felipe with his passing skills and averaged a championship high 8.5 apg. Rodriguez’s flair for the spectacular sometimes tended to overshadow his other skills and as well as being the key distributor for his team, he also put up 19 ppg, including 50% shooting from both inside and outside the 3-point arc.
One of the main beneficiary’s of Rodriguez’s passing skills was team-mate Carlo Suarez and he was also selected to the All-Star Team.
Suarez was Spain’s top points-getter in Zaragoza at 20.1 ppg. He saved one of his best game’s for the final and bagged 27 points, to go along with 11 rebounds in the final against Turkey. Suarez was on the end of many Rodriguez assists which got him easy baskets, but he also displayed a solid shooting touch and made 58% of his field goal attempts during the tournament.
Turkey’s Hakan Demirel was selected to the All-Star team at the guard position. He symbolised Turkey’s effort and hustle and consistently came up with clutch baskets and assists for his team when they needed them.
He led his team in scoring at 15.5 ppg, assists 4.6 apg and steals 3.3 spg (2nd overall).
Nikita Kourbanov (RUS) joined Suarez on the team at the forward position. Kourbanov used his skills and quickness to dominate the paint against Russia’s opponents. He put up 21.1 ppg for the tournament along with 10.1 rpg (2nd overall) and had 2 consecutive 20 rebound games. Standing just 200 cm, his athletic ability allowed him to out-rebound taller opponents and electrify the spectators with several highlight-reel dunks.
France’s Johan Petro was elected to the All-Star Team at center. The 214 cm Petro is a familiar figure at the U18 age level, and played in the championship 2 years ago aged just 16. In 2002 it was obvious that Petro would become a force to be reckoned with when on the court with players his own age group, and so he proved in Zaragoza.
Petro averaged 13.6 ppg and 10.6 rpg in the tournament and was at his most dominant in the bronze medal game against Italy. He finished the contest with 24 points and 22 rebounds and included a key block and basket at the end of the game which ended Italy’s medal hopes.