The Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT qualifying series comes to Munich for the first time this weekend. ANGT Munich features teams from the host country, Germany, as well as Greece, Spain and Turkey. Moreover, the rosters are stacked with top talents from those countries and many more. Here's a primer on some of the players to watch from the eight teams in action this weekend.
U18 ALBA Berlin: Hendrik Drescher
Drescher will be playing his third ANGT after averaging 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds at ANGT Belgrade in 2016 and then 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds at ANGT L’Hospitalet in 2017. The 2.06-meter center also has played multiple summers for German national teams. Drescher collected 9.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017. The Berlin native has a strong body, which has allowed him to be on the bench for ALBA BBL games; he made his debut in October. Drescher is working on his outside shooting, which will allow him to be an inside-outside player. The MVP of the German U19 NBBL league All-Star Game, Drescher set a new NBBL record with 50 points to go with 17 rebounds.
U18 Brose Bamberg: Kay Bruhnke
Bruhnke will be making his debut in the ANGT and is considered one of Germany’s biggest talents from the 2001-born generation. The 1.98-meter forward played last summer for Germany at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017 and had 9 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist in the first game before getting injured and missing the rest of the tournament. The Weiden native shows a lot of heart and desire on the court and is a good finisher, who can also light it up from outside. Bruhnke, who has Polish roots, has improved greatly his defense and still has potential to get even better there. Even though he doesn’t turn 17 years until July, Bruhnke is playing in Germany’s second division ProA. He is playing more at the point guard position to create for others; he runs the pick-and-roll very well as he is a good passer.
U18 Darussafaka Istanbul: Mert Akay
Akay will be competing in his second ANGT after averaging 8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals in Coin last year. The point guard also has played for the Turkish national team the past two summers. In 2016, he had 2.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in helping Turkey take bronze at the FIBA U16 European Championship and then collected 4.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists (second-best in the tournament) and 1.4 steals as Turkey finished fourth at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017. Akay is averaging 14.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game in Turkey’s U18 league this season. He has good size for a playmaker with great court vision and passing skills. Akay is mature for his age and is working on improving his three-point shooting. His long arms allow him to be aggressive on defense.
U18 FC Bayern Munich: Matej Rudan
Rudan will be playing his second ANGT after he averaged 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds for U18 Cibona Zagreb at ANGT Coin last year despite being two years younger than the rest of the opposition. Last summer he collected 17.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists in helping Croatia finish fourth at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2017 and qualify for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2017. The 1.96-meter forward moved to Bayern in December and is averaging 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.8 blocks in the U19 NBBL league. His mother, Gordana Cato, played during the 1990s and helped KK Split to a number of national championships. His father, Josko Rudan, played domestically and cousin Teo Cizmic played for KK Split's golden generation with Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja and Velimir Perasovic. Rudan has a very nice touch and can handle the ball well. He possesses very good passing skills.
U18 Olympiacos Piraeus: Aleksej Pokusevski
Pokusevski will play his first ANGT as Olympiacos is back in the competition for the first time since 2007. The 2001-born Pokusevski hails from Novi Sad, Serbia, and has been with the Greek powerhouse since January 2016. Pokusevski only turned 16 years old on December 26 and has yet to play for the Serbian national team. The point guard is a great passer and creates for his teammates from a variety of different angles. Because of his height, he is still weaker physically, but he seems to always find a way to put the ball in the basket.
U18 ratiopharm Ulm: Mate Fazekas
With Ulm making its ANGT debut, this will also be the first appearance in the competition for Fazekas. He has played two summers for the Hungarian national teams - in Division B of the FIBA U16 European Championship in 2015 and 2016. In the 2016 edition, the center averaged 11.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He has been with Ulm’s program for four years. Fazekas is averaging 13.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals this season in the German U19 NBBL league. The native of Gyor has great hands and can shoot well for his size. He has been working on developing his large body frame. Fazekas still needs to be more consistent and work on his footwork on defense.
U18 Real Betis Energia Plus Seville: Andrzej Pluta
Pluta will be appearing in his second ANGT after he was named to the ANGT Coin All-Tournament Team last season for averaging 17.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.0 steals despite being a year younger. The 1.91-meter combo guard has played two summers for Poland’s national team. In 2015 he helped Poland to promotion with 6.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in the FIBA U16 European Championship Division B. A year later he averaged 13.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals at the FIBA U16 European Championship. Pluta is averaging 15.3 points for Betis’ EBA team. He is the son of Andrzej Pluta, who played 11 years for the Polish national team and appeared at the 1997 and 2007 FIBA EuroBaskets. The younger Pluta is a great shooter and also can organize the game as a point guard.
U18 Real Madrid: Melwin Pantzar
Pantzar will be playing in his second ANGT after helping Madrid win ANGT Coin crown last year by averaging 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals. At the ANGT Finals in Istanbul, the Swedish guard collected 7.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals. He has played one summer for the Swedish national team, with which he averaged 7.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016. Pantzar, who is currently playing for Madrid’s EBA team, can play both guard positions. He’s very athletic, which allows him to be a great defender and play at a very high pace. Pantzar can finish near the basket, but still needs to improve his three-point accuracy.