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Five players to watch at FIBA U20 European Championship 2019, Division B
MATOSINHOS (Portugal) - The battle for the podium of the FIBA U20 European Championship 2019, Division B is about to tip off and the fight for the three tickets to the Division A will be fierce. Here is a look at five players to watch as they try to get their respective countries promoted.
Rati Andronikashvili, Georgia
Andronikashvili is back for his second U20 tournament after he averaged 8.4 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals last summer in Sofia, where he played as a 17-year-old. The 2001-born playmaker played last season with Spanish EBA team Burgos after one campaign with Baskonia's youth ranks. Andronikashvili has also played in five games during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers, collecting 12 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in 30 minutes over five qualification games in the June/July 2018, December 2018 and February 2019 windows.
Ben Kovac, Luxembourg
Kovac has become a dominant force for Luxembourg over the past four summers after playing his second and third FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B tournaments and two FIBA U18 European Championship, Division B tournaments. The 19-year-old shooting guard, who completed his third season playing for Luxembourg top flight side Basket Esch, led the U18 Division B in scoring and rebounding in 2017 and was fourth and fifth, respectively in 2018. Kovac was the top scorer and second-best rebounder at the U16 Division B in 2016 and was sixth and 11th respectively at the U16 Division B in 2015.
Kristian Kullamae, Estonia
Kullamae returns to the Estonian youth national team ranks after playing solely for the senior team last summer at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers. The point guard played in a nine of the 12 qualifiers and averaged 8.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists despite only turning 20 years old in May 2019. Kullamae, whose father Gert Kullamae played for the Estonian national team for many years, spent last season playing for Baunach in Germany’s second division ProA and averaged 13.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists, including back-to-back double-double games in March in points and assists. He collected 12.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals in helping host team Estonia finish third at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017 Division B.
Melwin Pantzar, Sweden
Sweden get a long lost son back to their national team as Pantzar will line up in the blue and yellow for the first time since an outstanding performance at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2016, where he averaged 7.6 points to go along with 12.0 rebounds, which were third-best in the tournament, and 5.1 assists, second-best in the event. The guard left for Spain and Real Madrid after that and is only this summer returning to Sverige. This past season saw Pantzar appear in five Spanish ACB games, collecting 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals over 33 minutes. He also made his EuroLeague debut with 3 points and 1 assist in 8 minutes against Baskonia.
Neemias Queta, Portugal
Queta will be playing for Portugal for a third straight summer and second straight time in the FIBA U20 European Championship, Division B after averaging a double-double last summer with 14.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, which were fifth-most in the event, and a tournament-best 2.9 blocks. The big man finished his second season at Utah State in collegiate basketball in the United States and stood out, averaging 11.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.4 blocks with 10 double-doubles while also shooting 62 percent from two-point range. Queta initially declared for the 2019 NBA Draft but withdrew his name before the deadline. His dominating presence in the paint will have the home fans excited about Portugal games.