Turkey, England, Italy and Croatia will square off in Group A of the U16 European Championship. We break down the prospects of the four teams.
Suheyl Cakmak, Okben Ulubay and Mert Cevik have each shone in the build-up. Cakmak is a 2.01m power forward while Ulubay is a 2.00m small forward and Cevik a 1.98m shooting guard. In a 90-81 friendly win over Spain, Ulubay poured in 16 points and 2.06m center Egemen Guven contributed 15. Turkey impress with height: seven players on the roster are 2.00m or taller while only point guard Berk Ugurlu is less than 1.90m tall.
There are some interesting talents in the English team. Some of them are Liam Carpenter and David Couchman - players from the Medway Park Crusaders. England have included three players with London club NASSA - Myles Laurent-Smart, Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye and Joe Mvuezolo and there are also Lithuanian-born forward Justas Muzikevicius of London Pioneers and Nigerian-born power forward Theo Oghide, a 2.01m forward.
The Azzurrini are somewhat the opposite of Turkey, with only one player listed as a center and as many as seven guards in the line-up. Head coach Antonio Bocchino will no doubt give a lot of playing
|Marko Arapovic played an important role in the successful Croatia teams in 2011 and 2012|
time to Federico Mussini, Riccardo Rossato and Pierfrancesco Oliva. Mussini is a 1.79m point guard, Rossato a 1.89m playmaker and Oliva a 2.00m small forward. Each did well in an 86-84 win at Spain in the build-up. The demanding Bocchino cut a frustrated figure, though, in a defeat at Lithuania. He knows his squad must turn it up a notch in Latvia.
If a winning tradition matters, and a link to Croatia's successful past is supposed to be a plus, then there is cause to believe that this team will be a force in Ventspils. Marko Arapovic (2.06m) and Antonio Vrankovic (2.08m) are the sons of silver-medal winners at the Barcelona Olympics 20 years ago, Franjo and Stojan, while Arapovic and Leon Tomic were members of last year's title-winning side at the U16 European Championship. Arapovic was very influential, too, in 2011, averaging 7.6 points and 3.3 rebounds. At the U17 World Championship that was just played, Arapovic averaged 10.8 points and 6.9 rebounds on aCroatia side that won a bronze medal.