Two teams with five Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament continental titles between them, plus a recent runner-up, a newcomer to this qualifier, and four home-grown German squads will fill the Audi Dome in Munich this weekend with great U18 talent. Check out some of the likely protagonists!
U18 ratiopharm Ulm – Andrija Grbovic
Grbovic will be appearing in his second ANGT after he averaged 10.3 points and 2.0 rebounds at the ANGT Munich last year despite playing two years younger than the rest of the competition. The 2003-born Grbovic played twice for Montenegro at the FIBA U16 European Championship level, averaging 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 2018 and then collecting 15.6 points, 7.4 rebounds,1.3 assists and 1.4 steals at the 2019 U16 Division B tournament. The 2.06-meter forward is a good shooter with touch from the perimeter, mid-range and around the basket. He has a good basketball IQ with a great work ethic and feel for the game. He has a basketball body and is an excellent teammate with good character. Grbovic still needs to work on his defense at the guard position as well as his lateral quickness and finishing with contact.
U18 Real Madrid – Boris Tisma
Tisma will be appearing in his second ANGT after helping Real win its second U18 continental crown last season. After averaging 8.3 points and 1.3 rebounds at the ANGT Munich, Tisma collected 7.5 points and 3.5 rebounds at the ANGT Finals including 8 points with 2 three-pointers and 3 rebounds in the ANGT Championship Game. The 2.04-meter forward also has played twice for Croatia at the FIBA U16 European Championship, picking up 18.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals as Croatia won the title in 2018. Tisma, who is spending his fifth season with Real, is left-handed but can score with both hands and shows great effectiveness and accuracy close to the basket. He is a good shooter with good range who has progressed physically to improve his diversity of scoring options. He is also a solid rebounder. The main thing he needs to work on is his all-around consistency.
U18 ALBA Berlin – Evans Rapieque
Rapieque is appearing in his third ANGT Munich after he averaged 3.3 points in 2017-18 and then 6.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists last season. The 1.95-meter guard has twice played for Germany, picking up 9.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2018 and 3.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2019. He was named the MVP of the 2018 final four of the German U16 JBBL where ALBA won the title and Rapieque also was named the 2018 JBBL Best Defender. Rapieque, who also won the 2017 JBBL crown with ALBA, is averaging 4.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in the German third division ProB as well as 11.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals in the German U19 NBBL league. He has great physical abilities and playing in the ProB has matured his game a lot. He has great power in attacking in the open court and is a solid shooter behind the arc. Rapieque is a very good defender but still needs to improve on his pick-and-roll reading.
U18 Ludwigsburg – Ariel Hukporti
Hukporti will be playing at his second ANGT after he dominated his first tournament, averaging 18.0 points, 15.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.8 blocks at last year's ANGT Valencia and being named to the all-tournament team. The 2.13-meter center played three summers for Germany's youth national teams, in 2017 and 2018 at the FIBA U16 European Championship, averaging 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 blocks in 2018. He then collected 10.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2019. Hukporti made his German professional debut in the 2018-19 season. He is a very talented offensive player, both in the post and on the perimeter. He has great touch in the low post, with the ability to score over either shoulder with either hand. On the perimeter, he can attack the basket off the dribble very well for a player of his size and has added the three-pointer to his game. Defensively, he is a rim protector that also has the ability to switch onto smaller players and guard one-on-one on the perimeter. To be a dominant player at the next level, Hukporti must continue to work on his focus and killer instinct over the course of the entire game.
U18 FC Bayern Munich – Sasha Grant
Grant is entering his third season in the ANGT, having played twice each at ANGT Munich and the ANGT Finals. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 2017-18 and then collected 9.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 2018-19. The 1.98-meter forward played two summers for Italy at the FIBA U16 European Championship, leading the tournament in scoring in 2018 with 19.3 points to go with 4.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.6 blocks. He picked up 10.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2019. Grant helped Bayern to win the German U19 NBBL title last season. This season he is playing at times with Bayern's senior team (4 points in 3 minutes of two BBL games and 1 block in 3 minutes of three Turkish Airlines EuroLeague games) as well as the U19 NBBL team and the third division ProB side. Grant is a powerhouse with great athleticism. He can be a lock-down defender who knows how to use his body on offense, both on drives and post-up moves. He still needs consistency on his outside shot and must improve his pick-and-roll game overall.
U18 CSKA Moscow – Alexander Maltsev
Maltsev will be appearing in his second ANGT after picking up 7.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists at the ANGT Kaunas last season. The 2.00-meter forward played for Russia at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2018, Division B, and helped the country win the crown and promotion back to Division A with 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals. Maltsev is the son of CSKA's youth head coach Andrey Maltsev. The younger Maltsev is averaging 18.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals in the VTB United Youth League, where he is playing three years younger than the rest of the competition. He has a good three-point shot and court vision and decent inside game. He knows how to be at the right spot at the right time and is consistent enough for his age, while also ready to take responsibility in the clutch. Maltsev still lacks a good defensive game though.
U18 Stellazzurra Rome – Abramo Canka
Canka will be appearing in the ANGT for a fourth season after he collected 7.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals at the ANGT Kaunas last season. The 1.99-meter guard previously competed under the name Abramo Pene. He played for Italy at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2018 and collected 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks. Canka is averaging 7.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals as a starter in the Italian Serie A2 for the Roseto Sharks. His energy is never questioned and he fights for his team with a great motor and killer instinct. He has improved his shooting and added weight to his frame. He is a tall guard able to defend multiple positions and can create off the dribble and one-on-one or catch and shoot from three-point range. Canka still must work on becoming more consistent offensively to catch up to his elite defensive skills.
U18 Promitheas Patras – Lefteris Mantzoukas
Mantzoukas is playing in his second ANGT after averaging 7.0 points, 5.7 rebounds 0.7 assists and 1.0 steals at the ANGT L'Hospitalet in 2017-18 as a 14-year-old. The 2003-born forward played for Greece for the first time last summer at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2019 and averaged 15.0 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals. He made his Greece A1 league debut in 2018 at age 14. Mantzoukas is averaging 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds in the Greek top flight this season and also picked up 3.8 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists in four games in the 7DAYS EuroCup. He can play both forward positions and has developed his athleticism and technical skills to become a very powerful athlete with explosiveness and great body coordination. He's a good shooter who can create for himself and finish strong at the rim and dominate in rebounding and has a great work ethic. Mantzoukas still is working on improving his dribbling, shooting and athleticism.