08 - 16
July 2023
31 Noam Yaacov (ISR)
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Which players will make the biggest impact at #FIBAU20Europe in Heraklion?

HERAKLION (Greece) - The FIBA U20 European Championship returns to Greece for its 2023 edition with several top players to look out for.

Spain will be looking to defend their title in Heraklion as some of the leading names convene to put on a show. 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 B tournament, which will be taking place in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Lefteris Mantzoukas - Greece


Birth Date: July 8, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 2.07m (6ft 9in)
Club: Panathinaikos (GRE)

Mantzoukas will play in his second straight FIBA U20 European Championship, as he was already one of the key pieces for Greece in last year's edition when he averaged 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. In his second season at Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos, Mantzoukas proved to be a valuable offensive piece with his three-point shooting ability, connecting on 41 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Mantzoukas also offers a threat on drives, as his combination of size, strength and fluidity makes him a difficult cover for opposing forwards when he puts the ball on the floor. His size makes him a factor in the paint as well, being an active rebounder and finisher at the rim. With Mantzoukas as their offensive leader, Greece will play at home as they look to improve from the 12th position they reached in the 2022 edition.

Michael Caicedo - Spain


Birth Date: June 21, 2003 (20 years old)
Height: 2.00m (6ft 7in)
Club: FC Barcelona (ESP)

Caicedo brings both experience and championship pedigree to this Spanish squad, as he will be playing in his third straight U20 competition. He was a contributor for Spain in the FIBA U20 European Challengers 2021, and one of the top players for the Spanish team who won the title last year, when he averaged 9.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Caicedo is coming off a productive and efficient season as a rotation piece for Granada in the Spanish ACB, where he was able to show his versatility, making an impact on multiple levels of the floor.

Standing at 2.00m, Caicedo possesses a unique combination of passing, dribbling and shooting abilities, while being a productive defender who utilizes his size, length and athleticism to create defensive events. Spain could be a serious candidate to repeat as U20 European champions and the team will have Caicedo as one of the key pieces in a roster that is, yet again, loaded with talent.

Maxime Raynaud - France


Birth Date: April 7, 2003 (20 years old)
Height: 2.13m (7ft 0in)
Club: Stanford Cardinal (USA)

Raynaud will make his first appearance in a FIBA event since 2019, when he was part of France's silver-medal run at the FIBAU16 European Championship. Since then, Raynaud had a stint as Victor Wembanyama's back-up for Nanterre's youth team, before moving on to play for Stanford in US college, where he has established himself as one of the most unique big men in the college game.

Raynaud makes an impact in the paint with his rebounding, interior finishing and rim protection, but he's also tremendously skilled and coordinated, being able to put the ball on the floor, convert jump shots with range and offer some defensive switch-ability in the perimeter. Alongside Adama Bal, Illias Kamardine and Kenny Kasiama, Raynaud will be a key player for a French team who will have a great mix of size, athleticism and skill on the court.

Nikola Saranovic - Serbia


Birth Date: August 20, 2003 (19 years old)
Height: 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Club: BC FMP (SRB)

After being relegated from Division A in 2021, Serbia won the FIBA U20 European Championship 2022, Division B in their first-ever appearance, earning back their place among the top teams in the continent. Saranovic was one of the reasons for Serbia's quick return to the top division with his efficient play in Tbilisi, as he shot 44.4 percent from three-point range and dished 3 assists against just 1.1 turnovers per game.

A wing with good size and open-court athleticism for the position, Saranovic was also able to provide efficient scoring and secondary playmaking for FMP in the latest Adriatic League season, converting catch-and-shoot jumpers at a good rate, attacking the rim with aggressiveness and finding open teammates on the move. With talented names like Saranovic, Filip Brankovic, Mihailo Petrovic and Matija Bjelic, it's hard to see Serbia dropping from Division A any time soon, as this roster has the necessary firepower to compete for a Championship in Heraklion.

Motiejus Krivas - Lithuania


Birth Date: December 1, 2004 (18 years old)
Height: 2.14m (7ft 1in)
Club: Zalgiris (LTU)

After leading the FIBA U18 European Championship 2022 in rebounds, Krivas went on to have a breakthrough 2022-23 season. He was dominant for Zalgiris' second team in the Lithuanian NKL, which not only earned him valuable minutes with the first team but also put him on NCAA radars, as he would end up committing to play for Arizona for the 2023-24 season. Standing at 2.14m, Krivas can play as a traditional Center who dominates the glass and scores efficiently in the paint, overwhelming opponents with his size.

Krivas is not only imposing but also really mobile and coordinated, which makes him a threat in transition and allows him to be a factor in the perimeter on both ends of the floor. Despite being one of the youngest players in attendance, Krivas' ability to dominate in the paint will be one of the keys for Lithuania in the quest for their first U20 title since 2012.

Henri Veesaar - Estonia


Birth Date: March 28, 2004 (19 years old)
Height: 2.10m (6ft 11in)
Club: Arizona Wildcats (USA)

Real Madrid alumni Henri Veesaar has consistently stood out through his career as one of the most versatile Forwards in the European youth levels. Veesaar utilizes his optimal size and length at the power forward position to finish plays at the rim and to protect the rim as a help defender. Veesaar is also effective when stepping out to the perimeter, as he has enough handling ability to put the ball on the floor and attack defenders, while also being comfortable as a floor-spacer, converting three-pointers in spot-up and pick-and-pop situations.

Coming off an efficient freshman year for Arizona at NCAA level, albeit on limited minutes, Estonia will look for Veesaar to repeat the impactful two-way performance he had at the FIBA U18 European Challengers 2021, where he averaged 16.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, while leading the tournament in blocks.

Sasa Ciani - Slovenia

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Birth Date: March 25, 2003 (20 years old)
Height: 2.09m (6ft 10in)
Club: KK Cedevita Junior (CRO)‎

In his final year of eligibility for youth tournaments, Ciani will look to cap off what has been a stellar run at the junior levels, as he has averaged 12.9 points and 9.9 rebounds over his last three FIBA tournaments. Ciani stands out nearly at first sight with his imposing 2.09m size, his long arms and his elite coordination and body control for his size.

What he does with his size, however, might be even more impressive, he's an efficient interior scorer who can finish pick-and-roll plays, as well as creating his own shot with his back to the basket. Ciani has also shown enough shooting touch to step out and convert jumpers from beyond the arc. Slovenia has a roster loaded with talent in Mark Ivankovic, Matija Samar, Jaka Klobucar and Ciani himself. They certainly have enough weapons to contend for a title in Heraklion.

Thijs De Ridder - Belgium


Birth Date: January 31, 2003 (20 years old)
Height: 2.03m (6ft 8in)
Club: Port of Antwerp Giants (BEL)

The Belgian Lions return their leading scorer from last year's FIBA U20 European Championship in De Ridder, who is coming off an extremely successful season for the Port of Antwerp Giants in the BNXT league where his performance earned him multiple accolades including Sixth Man of the Year, Rising Star of the Year and an inclusion in the BNXT League Dream Team. De Ridder plays as a modern-day power forward, combining big-men skills such as setting screens and rebounding with perimeter abilities.

De Ridder is especially impressive when putting the ball on the floor, attacking slower opponents in the perimeter with his quick first step and consistently finishing at the rim with power. A 40 percent shooter from beyond the arc, De Ridder is also a threat to space the floor in pick-and-pop situations. Belgium will look to improve on last year's eight-place finish, their best-ever result at U20 level.

Noam Yaacov - Israel


Birth Date: October 20, 2004 (18 years old)
Height: 1.86m (6ft 1in)
Club: Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem (ISR)‎

Yaacov has made important steps in his career over the past twelve months. He followed up an All-Tournament Team performance in last year's FIBA U18 European Championships, by playing solid minutes for Hapoel Jerusalem in the Israeli BSL and making his debut for the senior Israeli national team in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers, where he averaged 15 points, 4.5 assists and 4 rebounds.

Yaacov makes up for his lack of elite size with excellent speed, quickness and shiftiness with the ball in his hands, which makes him an electric driver who beats defenders consistently in the perimeter. He also possesses the ability to find teammates on the move and to create his own shot from the perimeter, showing a good level of touch in jumpers off-the-dribble. Israel has reached the podium in three of their last four U20 appearances, winning back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019, and they will rely on the dynamic backcourt of Yaacov and Ron Zipper to replicate their recent success in Heraklion.

Davide Casarin - Italy


Birth Date: May 22, 2003 (20 years old)
Height: 1.96m (6ft 5in)
Club: Tezenis Verona (ITA)‎

Casarin offers all you want in a combo-guard, not just in terms of having the adequate size and athleticism for the position but also when it comes to his skillset. He's a confident and versatile shotmaker from the perimeter, who is also able to put the ball on the floor and create his own drives with his combination of quickness and footwork.

As a passer, Casarin can operate as a primary decision maker and find open teammates with creative passes. Defensively, he makes an impact by defending both guard positions, showing good lateral mobility and a relentless motor. Italy will look to improve on their recent campaigns, as they have finished in the top half just once since they won the FIBA U20 European Championship in 2013. They will hope that Casarin's experience - playing in his third straight U20 competition - will help in their quest for victory.