Eight standout performers from the Group Phase in Podgorica
PODGORICA (Montenegro) - The first three days of the FIBA U20 European Championship have provided plenty of entertainment with an abundance of close games as well as standout individual performances.
As the teams recover and prepare for the Round of 16 stage, we have taken a look back over the Group Phase by picking out eight players that have impressed so far.
ADEM BONA - Turkey
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Birth date: March 28, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 206cm / 6'9"
Tournament Stats: 16.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG
Bona has been a human highlight reel in Podgorica so far with full athleticism on display at both ends of the floor. The 19-year-old prospect is averaging a double-double for Turkey with a best of 19 points on the opening day along with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. Bona helped his side pick up two wins in the Group Phase, while Sarper David Mutaf is the leading scorer in the competition with 19.7 points per game with a high volume of field goal attempts.
TOMISLAV BULJAN - Croatia
Birth date: November 3, 2002 (19 years old)
Height: 206cm / 6'9"
Tournament Stats: 16.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG
Buljan is another player averaging a double-double so far and also ranks third in the average efficiency charts. The 19-year-old exploded for 25 points and 15 rebounds on the second day to lead Croatia to victory over Slovenia before adding 19 points and 9 boards in their narrow defeat to Belgium on Monday. Leo Menalo has also caught the eye for Croatia.
SASA CIANI - Slovenia
Birth date: March 25, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 209cm / 6'10"
Tournament Stats: 13.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 74% FG
Not quite the tournament double-double average for Ciani, but the teenager is growing into the competition. Ciani only scored 6 points in 22 minutes of Slovenia's tournament opener before netting 16 points along with 12 rebounds in the same amount of time on court. The power forward just did not miss from the floor against France as he shot a perfect 8-of-8 to lead his side to their first win over previously unbeaten opposition.
THIJS DE RIDDER - Belgium
Birth date: January 31, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 203cm / 6'8"
Tournament Stats: 16.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG
De Ridder was dominant in the final game of the Group Phase after posting 28 points and 11 rebounds to lead Belgium past Croatia in a close-fought encounter. The power forward went 11-of-15 from the floor in the win, having doubled his previous scoring tally of 14 points against France. De Ridder helped his side to second spot in Group A as they now prepare to take on Greece in the Round of 16.
NOAM DOVRAT - Israel
Birth date: July 16, 2002 (20 years old)
Height: 196cm / 6'5"
Tournament Stats: 18.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.7 APG
Dovrat has been doing a bit of everything for Israel as the tournament's joint leader in assists per game as well as ranking third in the scoring averages. The 20-year-old opened his campaign with 19 points in the win against Greece before a 20-8-8 statline came in an overtime loss to Portugal. Israel went the distance again in their final group game with Dovrat finishing with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists in a 40-minute effort.
GILAD LEVY - Israel
Birth date: July 3, 2002 (20 years old)
Height: 216cm / 7'1"
Tournament Stats: 13.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG
Another player from Israel on the list as seven-footer Levy leads the tournament in efficiency averages. Levy is averaging a double-double of 13.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game across three appearances as Israel topped Group B, despite a surprise defeat to Portugal. The 20-year-old center had put up 15 points and 15 rebounds in the loss, but contributed 17 points and 11 boards to Israel's overtime triumph against Italy to take top spot.
RUBEN PREY - Portugal
Birth date: February 16, 2005 (17 years old)
Height: 208cm / 6'10"
Tournament Stats: 17.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG
Prey becoming the predator. The 2005-born Joventut prospect has looked at ease against older opposition with Prey making a splash for Portugal as they made history with a first-ever win in Division A at the U20 level. The 17-year-old forward put up 24 points in the triumph against former winners Israel and is averaging 17.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Prey's partner in crime, Andre Cruz, certainly deserves a mention, too, after an incredible performance of 25 points, 19 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in the aforementioned win.
FEDOR ZUGIC - Montenegro
Birth date: September 18, 2003 (18 years old)
Height: 196cm / 6'5"
Tournament Stats: 18.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.3 APG
Representing the hosts, Zugic is the second-leading tournament scorer with 18.7 points per game through three appearances so far. Zugic made a debut with Montenegro's senior team during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers and has showcased his scoring capabilities on home soil with 19 points in the win over Turkey before netting 21 points against Germany. The hosts have also had strong performances from Djordije Jovanovic as they carry momentum forward.