Players to watch: Who will shine at #FIBAU16Europe Division B in Pitesti?
PITESTI (Romania) - The FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B returns to Romania for the first time since 2012 and there will be a lot of talent in attendance in Pitesti, as 21 teams will compete for the Division B title and for promotion to Division A.
We selected seven players who could make their mark at this year's edition of the U16 tournament. You can vote below for which player you think will make the biggest impact in this year's competition.
Make sure to also check out the players to watch in the Division A tournament, which will be taking place in Skopje, North Macedonia.
Roko Jemo - Croatia
Birth Date: April 25, 2007 (16 years old)
Height: 1.93m (6ft 4in)
Club: BC Split (CRO)
Jemo already saw valuable minutes at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2022, where he showed an intriguing skillset playing one year up in age. The now 16-year-old wing played mostly off the ball, but he was able to put pressure on opposing defenders by attacking the rim with his impressive speed, shooting the ball in spot-up situations and making passes on the move. He was also a defensive contributor, utilizing his length to come up with steals and deflections.
Croatia will play in Division B for the first time ever in 2023, and they should be considered as strong contenders to take the title and make a quick return to the top division.
Codrut Dinu - Romania
Birth Date: February 26, 2007 (16 years old)
Height: 1.93m (6ft 4in)
Club: CSM Ploiesti (ROU)
At just 16 years of age, Dinu has already had two full seasons of experience in the Romanian league for Ploiesti, where this year he became an important rotation piece for the team. Dinu is an aggressive scoring guard who makes an impact with his electric ball-handling ability. His shooting is also impressive, being able to convert tough jumpers from range consistently.
In his home ground, Dinu will lead an experienced roster, including two players in Andrei Buboiu and Melvin Dubuc who were part of last year's U16 squad.
Joao Panzo - Portugal
Birth Date: October 18, 2007 (15 years old)
Height: 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Club: SC Vasco da Gama (POR)
Panzo comes back to the FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B, after scoring 3.6 points and securing 3.6 rebounds per contest in last year's edition of the tournament. Possessing a strong frame for his age, Panzo provides an interior presence for Portugal by defending post-ups, rebounding and finishing around the basket. Panzo is also able to make things happen in the perimeter, being a willing floor-spacer and showing enough fluidity and creativity to initiate drives, which turns him into a mismatch for opposing wings in his age group.
With Panzo as their leader, Portugal will look to make it out of the Group Phase for the first time since 2012.
Endurance Aiyamenkhue - Netherlands
Birth Date: June 1, 2007 (16 years old)
Height: 2.09m (6ft 10in)
Club: ratiopharm Ulm (GER)
Aiyamenkhue makes an impact with his massive 2.09m size and length, being a dominant interior finisher, rim protector and rebounder. His game, however, goes beyond his sheer size, showing good touch around the basket and enough movement skills to be a factor in transition.
Netherlands reached the Final on each of their last two appearances at the FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B. This year, they have a talented roster with several breakout candidates in Eise van Wayenburg, Wessel Vankan and Aiyamenkhue himself. They are definitely one of the teams to watch in Pitesti.
Nemanja Vucenovic - Bosnia and Herzegovina
Birth Date: July 12, 2007 (16 years old)
Height: 2.01m (6ft 7in)
Club: Igokea m:tel (BIH)
Vucenovic already showed his impressive skillset earlier this year at the Youth Basketball Champions League, where playing two years up in age, he was an important piece for eventual champions Igokea m:tel. Vucenovic acts like a perimeter-oriented Power Forward, who is able to fill the traditional role of a four by setting screens, rebounding and finishing around the basket, while also mixing in moments of spot-up shooting and ball-handling.
Bosnia and Herzegovina consistently finds a way to get to the final stages of the FIBA U16 European Championships, Division B, and this could be the year where they finally win their first title.
Jakub Sevcik - Czech Republic
Birth Date: February 27, 2007 (16 years old)
Height: 1.87m (6ft 2in)
Club: USK Praha (CZE)
The Czech Republic returns their second-leading scorer from last year's FIBA U16 European Championship, Division B in Sevcik, who averaged 10.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game despite playing one year up in age. Sevcik is masterful at initiating drives, which he does with his creative ball-handling ability and his quick change of speeds. Once he's on the move, he's tremendously comfortable in traffic, being able to get to the rim and finish against contact with consistency.
The Czech Republic will have one of the most talented rosters in Pitesti, and Sevcik's quickness and aggressiveness will be a perfect addition to a team expected to dominate the paint with their size.
Andrej Majernik - Slovakia
Birth Date: January 13, 2007 (16 years old)
Height: 1.99m (6ft 6in)
Club: BK Lokomotiva Sered (SVK)
Majernik saw minutes off the bench for last year's Slovakia U16 squad, where he averaged 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in 16 minutes per contest. Defensively, Majernik provides Slovakia with a level of rebounding and rim protection thanks to his size, length and strong frame. On the offensive end, he combines those physical tools with impressive fluidity and ball-handling ability, which makes him a threat not only in the paint, but also when catching the ball behind the three-point line.
Despite finishing in the 19th place in last year's tournament, Slovakia could be a "Dark Horse" team in Pitesti, as they will be one of the most experienced squads in attendance, bringing back five different players from the 2022 edition of the tournament.