The 2018 Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT qualifying series tournaments continue this weekend in Lithuania. ANGT Kaunas features four former ANGT champions among teams from the host country, France, Italy, Latvia, Russia 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 Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul: Efe Tirpanci
Tirpanci will be playing in his second ANGT after averaging 8.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block at ANGT Kaunas last season. He later posted 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 2.0 steals at the ANGT Finals. The 2.02-meter Tirpanci played last season as a small forward, but Fenerbahce is in the process of shifting him to point guard. Tirpanci has excellent court vision, drives aggressively to the basket and can finish as well. He also shoots a good percentage on his mid-range pull up shots. Tirpanci continues to improve his pass selection and his three-point shooting percentage. Fenerbahce also has him working on changing speeds when he dribbles to keep defenses off balance.
U18 VEF Riga: Oskars Hlebovickis
Hlebovickis is appearing in the ANGT for the second time. He collected 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steal in Kaunas last season. The 2.00-meter wing is playing in Latvia’s second division LBL2, where he is averaging 14.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.1 steals and has picked up three double-doubles. Hlebovickis, who was born in the capital of Poland, Warsaw, can play at both wing positions but also can play with his back to the basket. He also has international experience; Hlebovickis played three games for the Latvian national team at the FIBA U16 European Championship in 2016. He has a very high basketball IQ and is a good spot-up shooter.
U18 Zalgiris Kaunas: Rokas Jokubaitis
Jokubaitis will be lining up in his second ANGT after playing a major role in Zalgiris winning ANGT Kaunas last season. He averaged 10.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists, including a team-high 18 points to go with 6 assists in the victory over U18 CFBB Paris in the Kaunas Final. In the ANGT Finals in Istanbul, the 1.91-meter point guard was worth 15.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 steals. Jokubaitis comes from a basketball family; both of his parents played the game and his sister still does. His father, Aivaras, was more of a low post player and played a handful of years in the Lithuanian first division. Rokas helped Lithuania win silver at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016 and last summer averaged 10.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017. An excellent playmaker, Jokubaitis can handle the ball very well and finish at the basket as well, though he needs to keep working on his shooting.
U18 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius: Deividas Sirvydis
This will be the third season that Sirvydis is playing in the ANGT. He averaged 3.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals at the ANGT Finals in 2016. Last season he appeared in only one game at ANGT Kaunas, in which he produced 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block before missing the rest of the tournament with an injury. The lefty helped Lithuania to the silver medal at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016. His father, Virginijus, played many years in Lithuania, Russia, Germany, Cyprus and the Czech Republic before retiring in 2012 and now coaches in Lithuania’s second division. Deividas made his Lithuania professional league debut in 2016-17 and this season has played in two games in the 7DAYS EuroCup. The 2.00 meter wing can play both guard positions and both forward positions at the U18 level and can create shots for himself.
U18 Stellazzurra Rome: Paul Eboua
Eboua is set to appear in his second ANGT after he averaged 5.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 steal at ANGT Belgrade last season and will be out to improve on that campaign. The 2.03-meter swingman hails from Cameroon and came to Italy in 2015. He has only been playing basketball for three years. Eboua has elite athleticism and can shoot from behind the arc or attack the basket and finish above the rim. He is working on improving his ball handling to continue the transformation from small forward to shooting guard. Eboua recently missed three months due to an injury, so he might not be at his top form in Kaunas.
U18 Khimki Moscow Region: Dmitry Kadoshnikov
With Khimki playing in its first ANGT event since the 2011-12 season, Kadoshnikov will also be making his debut in the tournament. The 2001-born big man has already played internationally for Russia; he averaged 9.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals over the summer at FIBA U16 European Championship 2017. Kadoshnikov, who stands 2.01 meters, recorded three double-doubles in the tournament, including a 13-point, 20-rebound effort against Sweden. Last season, he helped Khimki’s junior team to the EYBL championship and was chosen MVP. Kadoshnikov is a physically gifted player with good leaping abilities. He is very active on the boards and also has good size and mobility. Kadoshnikov possesses a high basketball IQ and can take his shooting game outside.
U18 CSKA Moscow: Viktor Lakhin
Lakhin will be playing in his second ANGT after making the CSKA team for the ANGT Finals at the EuroLeague Final Four last season and averaging 5.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals. The 2.07-meter power forward played for Russia last summer at FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, where he averaged 9.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocks, including 14 points and 13 rebounds against Sweden. The Krasnodar native possesses good rebounding instincts and can play from the outside in. He is also an effective shot blocker as serves as a good rim protector. Lakhin still is working on his shooting skills and improving his post-up game.
U18 CFBB Paris: Yohan Choupas
Choupas enters the competition as a reigning champion after helping CFBB to the crown last season. At ANGT Kaunas, he averaged 4.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Those numbers dipped to 1.3 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.8 assists at the ANGT Finals. The Paris native spent the summer with the French youth national team; he produced 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists at FIBA U18 European Championship 2017. The 1.93 meter guard is spending his third season with CFBB and averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals this season in the French third flight. He has heated up recently with 13.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals over the last five games. Choupas is quick and defends well. He is still working on improving the consistency on his three-point shot.