Players to watch in Podgorica
PODGORICA (Montenegro) - Twenty-four teams will be dreaming of grabbing a top three spot at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2019, Division B and earn promotion to Division A. Here are some of the players who can help their countries accomplish that.
Thijs De Ridder, Belgium
De Ridder is back for his second U16 Division B tournament after he collected 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds last summer. De Ridder hopes to lead Belgium back to Division A for the first time since 2013. He spent last season playing in Belgium’s second division and is a product of the Antwerp system.
Stefan Grasu, Romania
Grasu will likely be one of the leading players of the tournament after he was Romania’s top scorer and rebounder last summer with 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds to go with 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals. The forward, who also averaged 3.4 points and 1.9 rebounds at the U16 Division B tournament in 2017, made his Romanian top flight debut for Dinamo Bucharest at 15 years. Romania hope Grasu can get them back to Division A for the first time since 1987.
Gustav Knudsen, Denmark
Knudsen might be Denmark’s biggest talent ever but he definitely represents the future for the country. The 6ft 8in (2.03m) guard will be appearing in his first FIBA event. This past season saw him play at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament for DBA Academy and he also competed at the Adidas U16 All-Star game. Any chance for Denmark to make their way back to Division A for the first time since 2014 will rely on Knudsen.
Konstantin Kostadinov, Bulgaria
Kostadinov is one of the big reasons Bulgaria bid to host the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2020 as he leads a strong 2003-born generation for the country. Kostadinov will be playing his third U16 tournament after averaging 7.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.8 assists and 1.0 blocks in 2017 and 17.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 blocks last summer. The power forward will definitely come to the event with strong competition at the club level as he plays for Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. Bulgaria are already secured a spot in next summer’s U17 World Cup, but they would love to be playing Division A again at the U16 European level. The last time that happened was 2011.
More to follow
Those are just some of the top players to watch in Podgorica. Here are some more on which to keep an eye: Ivan Borissov, Bulgaria; Ondrej Svec, Czech Republic; Victor Faroukou, Great Britain; Andrija Grbovic and Stefan Vukcevic, Montenegro; Jeremy Sochan, Poland; Antonio Lucas, Portugal; Matus Hronsky, Slovakia; Nicolo Isotta, Switzerland; and Illia Zdyrka, Ukraine.