Just in case international youth basketball fans weren’t sated by the recent Albert Schweitzer and Nike Hoop Summit youth tournaments, perhaps the upcoming Jordan Brand Classic in New York today will go a bit further in sating the craving. Three games will be played between some of the world’s finest U18 players.
Game two of the tripleheader puts 16 non-U.S. players in the limelight, as “Black” and “White” teams have been drawn at random from the stock of internationals. Originally, a full 10 of these 16 were representing The Continent, with Lithuania, Serbia and France each claiming two spots.
Thanks to our old friend Eyjafjallajoekull, however, some changes have been made. Vasilije Micic and Nikola Jankovic of Serbia cannot make the trip; also out is Nigeria’s Christopher Obekpa. In for the internationals will be Italian point guard Matteo Ibro and two guard Albert Homs of Spain; replacing Obekpa will be Anthony Bennett of Canada. The roster switch-up now gives Spain and Italy two players each in the game.
The book on the Europeans in the Jordan Classic looks something like the following.
Francesco Candussi. Last seen on the international stage at the 2009 U16 European Championship Men putting in quality minutes against Lithuania and Germany, Candussi impressed at the Nike Brand camp.
Charly Maraux. This point guard is touted for his defensive skills, but all aspects of his game are quite admirable as well. Maraux went for 5.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and just under one steal in 17 minutes per game at the 2009 U16 European Championship last year.
Alexandre Chassang. Currently attending INSEP, Chassang was one of the younger players on the Belgrade Nike International Junior Tournament finalist. Here’s to thinking he’ll be starting in the 2011 edition of that tourney.
Marius Grigonis. Yet another product of the frankly awesome Zalgiris Kaunas system, Grigonis is the youngest player on Team Lithuania’s Nike International Junior Tournament team, a finalist to play in Paris during the Euroleague 2010 Final Four next month.
Augustinas Jankaitis. What was that about the Zalgiris system? Jankaitis, too, is on that Lithuanian youth squad; all he did in four NIJT games was average 11.5 points and 7.3 rebounds (including 3.0 offensive) per.
Albert Homs recently made a bit of history, becoming the third-youngest player ever to suit up in an ACB game, after Ricky Rubio (who debuted for Homs’ DKV Joventut at 14 years, 11 months of age) and Ángel Rebolo, who played in the big league at 15 years and three months. Ironically, Homs will be expected to fill Rubio’s shoes at the Human YouTube Clip’s point guard position. Also representing Spain is Jorge Sanchez of Real Madrid.
Kyprianos Maragkos. Can you say “workhorse”? Maragkos played three positions for Team Greece at times in the U16s, staying on court for over 25 minutes per game while contributing 10.2 ppg and 6.2 rpg. With height now at a premium in this game, Maragkos could rise to the occasion (so to speak) and surprise observers with his nice all-around game.
Malik Müller. Though he didn’t cause too many ripples at the recent Albert Schweitzer tournament in going for 30 points in seven games with the German U17 side, Müller was named MVP of the Jordan Brand camp. Plus, with Müller already named to Germany’s squad for this summer’s FIBA U17 World Championship tournament, look out for this guy to make a better second impression in America.
The Jordan Brand International Game, pitting Team USA against the World Team, tips off at Madison Square Garden tonight at 5.30pm EST (11.30pm CET). The New York City regional game goes down at 3.30pm EST (9.30pm CET), and the “All-American” game starts at 8pm EST (2am CET) ‘Stateside, the games will be broadcast on ESPN 2. To watch live online (at least the first two games, anyway), try the Jordan Brand Classic TV website.
The full international rosters are as follows.
White squad: Carmelo Betancourt Carbonell (Puerto Rico); Matteo Ibro (Italy); Albert Homs (Spain); Duane Notice (Canada); Marius Grigonis (Lithuania); Augustinas Jankaitis (Lithuania); Jean-Yves Toupane (Senegal); Francesco Candussi (Italy); coach Herman Harried (Lake Clifton High, Baltimore).
Black squad: Artur Pecos Fernandes da Silva (Brazil); Kevin Pangos (Canada); Malik Muller (Germany); Charly Maraux (France); Jorge Sanchez (Spain); Alexandre Chassang (France); Anthony Bennett (Canada); Kyprianos Maragkos (Greece); coach Miles Simon, (formerly of University of Arizona).
Some highlights from last year’s game? Sure! Enjoy!