Russia forward Nikita Kurbanov has been elected MVP of the ACI Trading Ltd U20 European Championship Men in Chekov.
The 200 cm Kurbanov was a key performer in Russia's gold medal winning side, averaging 11.3 ppg and 7.9 rpg during the competition.
|Arturas Jomantas |
After a 27 point outburst in the opening contest against Croatia, Kurbanov was willing to take a backseat on offense for the remainder of the competition. However, it was his presence on the court, tenacious defense (1.8 spg and 1.6 bpg) and willingness to do the little things for his team that earned him MVP honours.
Along with Kurbanov, Renaldas Seibutis (Lithuania), Aruturas Jomantas (Lithuania), Luka Bogdanovic (Serbia & Montenegro) and Lior Eliyahu (Israel) were selected to the All-Tournament team.
Seibutis and Jomantas were the two outstanding performers on a very talented Lithuanian side which fell one step short of the gold medal.
At 196cm, Seibutis was the top shooting guard at the competition, able to keep defenses honest with his outside shooting and possessing the quickness to get to the basket and finish, or find open team-mates. He averaged 17.4 ppg during the tournament.
Jomantas, a 202 cm guard/forward, was more of a physical presence for Lithuania. He pulled down a team-high 6.1 rpg for his side and was also the top passer, dishing 2.6 apg.
Jomantas was undoubtedly Lithuania's top player in their tough encounters against Serbia & Montenegro (23 points and 7 rebounds) and Israel (21 points and 10 rebounds). Unfortunately he failed to find his offensive touch in the final against Russia, scoring a tournament low 7 points.
Israel's Lior Eliyahu is no stranger to the U20 European Championship, having been part of the side that won a silver medal in 2004. Last year it was Yotam Halperin who earned All-Tournament honours, but this year Eliyahu has stepped into the role of team star.
At 204 cm, Eliyahu was one of the quickest and most athletic players at the tournament. He used his talent to average 18 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 2.1 spg, including a 27-point effort against Lithuania in the semi-finals.
Luka Bogdanovic rounded up the All-Tournament team, and nobody would dispute his selection. The 202 cm forward did everything from Serbia & Montenegro, from running the offense, to rebounding and scoring.
Bogdanovic averaged 15.3 ppg and 5.5 rpg, shooting 54% from the field including 48% on three-pointers (14/29).