The 2016-17 Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT qualifying series returns to Spain this weekend where eight teams loaded with the stars of tomorrow will compete at ANGT Coin. The event, which is the third in the qualifying series, features teams from Spain, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany and Turkey and talents from many more countries. The winning team earns a spot at the ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT finals held over Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four weekend in Istanbul in May. Here’s a primer on some of the players to watch from the eight teams in action this weekend.
U18 Real Madrid: Dino Radoncic
Radoncic will be playing his second ANGT after he averaged 14.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season at ANGT L’Hospitalet. At the ANGT Finals in Berlin, he posted 22.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.3 steals. This season, the 2.02-meter small forward is playing in the EBA league after appearing in both the EuroLeague and Spanish League last season. Radoncic, whose father was a Yugoslavian international handball player, debuted with the Montenegro senior national team last summer and averaged 5.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists at the EuroBasket 2017 qualifiers. Born in Giessen, Germany, Radoncic is a complete player who can play one-on-one inside and outside on offense. He also has three-point range and can penetrate to the rim. Radoncic can be aggressive on defense and attacks the passing lanes and also is a skilled passer.
U18 Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul: Mert Akay
Akay will be playing his first ANGT since this is the first appearance for Darussafaka. The 1.93-meter point guard does however have high level experience, having played at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016, where he averaged 2.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists for Turkey, which finished third in the tournament. The 2000-born playmaker is a smart player with excellent court vision, who can create for his teammates. The native of Beyoglu is also a good shooter who can also create his own shot. However, Akay must improve on his own shot selection. His long arms give him a long reach, which allows him to be a good and aggressive defender. Akay is also a good rebounder for his position. He participated at the Adidas Eurocamp last summer.
U18 Real Betis Energia Plus Seville: Andrzej Pluta
Pluta will be participating in his first ANGT. The combo guard has played two straight summers at the FIBA U16 European Championship and averaged 13.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 2016. The 1.90-meter guard has been worth 13.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the EBA league in his second year in Spain. He is the son of former Polish international Andrzej Pluta, who played 11 years for Poland, including appearing at the 1997 and 2007 EuroBaskets. The younger Pluta has practiced with the ACB team this season and even appeared in one game. He is thought to be very strong mentally and quite competitive. Pluta shows an excellent focus on the details of the game, which can be complicated for 16-year-olds. His shooting range reaches beyond the three-point line. He is also a good defender with excellent physical conditioning.
U18 USK Future Stars Prague: Jan Zidek
Zidek is playing his second ANGT after averaging 2.3 points and 2.3 rebounds at Kaunas ANGT last season. This season, he is averaging 6.5 points and 0.9 rebounds in the Czech second league. Last summer, the 2.02-meter forward collected 6.0 points and 1.9 rebounds at the FIBA U18 European Championship Division B. The Prague native is the son of 1999 EuroLeague champion George Zidek. Jan is one of the Czech Republic’s biggest prospects. He is still growing, but has an excellent three-point shot. Zidek can play with both his right and left hands and plays inside or outside with his face or back to the basket. He is working on improving his driving skills and ball-handling. Zidek reads the game well with good court vision and a good feel for the game. He is a hard worker with good habits and attitude.
U18 Unicaja Malaga: Ignacio Rosa
Rosa will be playing his second ANGT after he averaged 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds at ANGT Rome last season. Last summer, the 2.08-meter forward did not make the Spanish team for the FIBA U17 World Championship 2016, but he played at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2016 in December and averaged 11.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steals, including scoring 27 points in the fifth-place game against Bosnia and Herzegovina to secure Spain a spot at the FIBA U19 World Championship 2017. He is currently averaging 15.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals in Spain’s EBA. Rosa is a versatile player who alternates between the two forward positions. His physical development will show at which position the Badalona native stays long term. Despite his height, Rosa is a good ball-handler and he has a good touch around the basket. He also has an easy stroke from beyond the three-point line. Rosa also has great speed in getting his shot ready and does an excellent job grabbing offensive rebounds.
U18 Movistar Estudiantes Madrid: Alex Tamayo
Tamayo will be playing his first ANGT with this marking the club’s first time at the event since 2009-10. Tamayo played last summer for Spain at the FIBA U16 European Championship and averaged 5.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists as the Spanish won the title. The 1.91-meter guard, who was born in Lusikiski, South Africa, is currently averaging 8.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in Spain’s EBA league. Tamayo has good size, which allows him to defend almost any perimeter player. He is very aggressive when dribbling the ball and has a real ease going to the basket and getting to the rim. He can finish when he gets into the lane, but also has good shooting range from outside.
U18 Cibona Zagreb: Kresimir Nikic
Nikic will be playing his second ANGT after he averaged 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks at ANGT Kaunas last season. The 2.14-meter center has not yet played for the Croatian national team, though he is expected to be one of the leaders of the U18 team, which hopes to earn promotion back to Division A at the FIBA U18 European Championship this summer. The Zagreb native has been with Cibona for years already and won national titles at the U14, U16 and U18 levels. He excels on both sides of the court. His great length gives him a strong advantage on defense, where he serves as an excellent rim protector. Nikic also possesses an excellent shot, which allows him to drive to the basket when he takes the ball outside. He has a great understanding of the game and good passing skills, which help him create space for himself and others.
U18 FC Bayern Munich: Nelson Weidemann
Weidemann will be playing his second ANGT after he competed on loan with Bayern last season at ANGT Belgrade and averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals. The 1.90-meter playmaker guard joined Bayern in the off-season and is averaging 7.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steal in the ProB third division. The Berlin native played for Germany at the FIBA U18 European Championship in December and averaged 5.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists as Germany took fourth place. Weidemann has a strong personality with a very good attitude and always gives his full effort. He is a team guy that gets along with everyone in a locker room. Weidemann has high ambitions and is motivated to reach the highest level in basketball. He has an excellent all-around game, but also enjoys working on improving his game. At the moment he is working most on developing his point guard skills.