The third Adidas Next Generation Tournament qualifier for the 2023/2024 season was held in Dubai. The German team Ratiopharm Ulm secured the ticket for the ANGT Finals by defeating Zalgiris Kaunas (89-84) in what was arguably one of the best ANGT games we have seen to date.

Ratiopharm Ulm

The German team had a great tournament, led by the MVP, Noa Essengue. The French forward, standing at 6’9, performed consistently throughout the tournament, but truly excelled in the final with an exceptional performance. Essengue displayed remarkable athleticism, mobility, and length, allowing him to make significant contributions on both ends of the court. Offensively, he drove effectively to the basket without hesitation, leveraging his stride and demonstrating good touch close to the rim. He also posted up several times and proved to be effective in scoring after offensive rebounds, averaging 2.5 per game. With an impressive 69.2% 2-point field goal efficiency, Essengue averaged 20.2 points per game. Additionally, he showcased his versatility by averaging 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.5 steals, and 2 blocks per game. What truly distinguished Essengue, especially in the final, was his defensive prowess. He switched efficiently, making it difficult for guards to attack him and providing elite rim protection with four blocks. Despite the physical nature of the game, Essengue demonstrated mental toughness, maintaining composure and making correct decisions even when facing double teams. Although he drew fouls at a high rate when driving to the rim, averaging 8.5 received fouls per game, he struggled from the free-throw line, converting only 41.9% (18/43).

Ulm also showcased strong performances from its guards. Joel Cwik (6’4) emerged as the second-leading scorer for Ulm, averaging 14.8 points over four games. With good positional size, Cwik demonstrated skill both with and without the ball, showing an excellent understanding of the game. He excelled in running pick-and-rolls as a secondary ball handler and provided open looks for his teammates. Jordan Müller (6’1) played a pivotal role as a facilitator for Ulm, averaging 4.2 assists per game while maintaining a low turnover rate of just 1.5 per game. He effectively set the pace for the German team and contributed 10.8 points per game on efficient shooting splits. Jervis Scheffs (6’3, born in 2007) impressed with his scoring ability, averaging 13.8 points on decent shooting splits and grabbing 5 rebounds per game. He showcased his ability to create space for himself and contribute to the team’s offense. Endurance Aiyamenkhue (6’10, born in 2007) represented the younger generation well, displaying good positional size and potential on both ends of the court. He averaged 5.8 rebounds per game and provided 2.2 blocks per game, establishing himself as an elite rim protector and causing trouble for opponents.

Zalgiris Kaunas

Zalgiris Kaunas reached the qualifier final for the second consecutive year, following last year’s appearance in Munich. However, this time they fell short against Ratiopharm Ulm. Despite the loss, Mantas Juzenas (6’6) and Nedas Raupelis (6’9) were both named to the All-tournament Five Team. Juzenas led Zalgiris in scoring with 18.2 points per game, displaying impressive shooting percentages (40% 2P, 40% 3P, and 73.1% FT) along with averaging 11.2 rebounds per game. A sizable and strong guard, Juzenas showcased his offensive prowess consistently throughout the tournament. He proved to be a threat for opposing defenses, demonstrating proficiency as a spot shooter behind the arc and showing confidence in making shots off the dribble. Additionally, he occasionally utilized his size advantage by posting up smaller guards.

Nedas Raupelis maintained consistency for his team throughout the tournament. As a mobile undersized big, Raupelis made contributions on both ends of the court. He excelled as a pick-and-roll player, exhibiting strong finishes at the basket and displaying some proficiency in limited post-up situations. Raupelis also demonstrated a knack for grabbing offensive rebounds, providing second-chance opportunities for his team. Dovydas Buika (6’5) showcased himself as a score-first guard with various scoring abilities. He exhibited good ball-handling skills, the ability to attack off the dribble, and proficiency in shooting off the catch behind the arc. Despite occasional struggles with his three-point shooting, only converting 16.7% behind the arc, Buika demonstrated his scoring prowess throughout the tournament. Thomas Bassong (6’7) possessed impressive physical attributes, notably a long wingspan and considerable forearm size. Bassong displayed athleticism, speed, and strength, enabling him to finish strongly at the basket and impact the game defensively. He was often assigned to guard the best players of opposing teams, using his athleticism to give them a hard time and disrupt their offensive rhythm.

Next Generation Team

The NGT Dubai was spearheaded by Maxence Lemoine (6’2), who earned a spot on the All-Tournament Five Team. The French guard commenced the tournament with vigor and maintained this level of play throughout the four games. Leading his team in scoring, Lemoine also served as the primary facilitator, dictating the pace of the game and displaying a keen sense of when to push the tempo or settle into a half-court offense. He capitalized on his speed and acceleration, consistently driving aggressively to the basket and making sound decisions. With an average of 5.2 assists (2.2 turnovers), Lemoine efficiently orchestrated pick-and-rolls, creating open scoring opportunities for his teammates both inside and outside the paint. Additionally, he exhibited high energy on the defensive end, applying pressure on the ball handler.

Joan Beringer (6’9) emerged as a mobile and athletic center, playing a crucial role for his team by contributing 7.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. Beringer showcased his defensive prowess, adeptly blocking and deflecting shots, particularly after pick-and-roll switches, and effectively defending against guards. His strong positioning and instincts for rebounds were also evident throughout the tournament. Elisee Assui (6’4) displayed exceptional shooting proficiency, averaging 11.2 points with outstanding shooting splits. Utilizing his strength when driving to the basket and demonstrating readiness to shoot from beyond the arc, Assui excelled as a spot-up shooter, capitalizing on his quick shooting mechanics and high readiness level. Theo Airhienbuwa (6’7) showcased his versatility with a strong two-way game, averaging 11.5 points and emerging as the second-leading scorer for his team. He excelled in one-on-one situations, scoring both from mid-range off the dribble and by driving to the basket. 6’10 Miikka Muurinen, who gained attention after his breakout tournament last summer in Skopje, faced challenges in maintaining his usual standards of play. While displaying glimpses of his potential, Muurinen struggled to finish against physical contact and appeared to be affected by the aggressive play of Zalgiris. Maintaining mental clarity especially vs the physical and tough defense of Zalgiris proved to be a challenge for him during the tournament.

LDLC Asvel Villeurbanne

The French team fell short in the third placement game of the NGT Dubai and finished fourth overall. Despite this, Yohann Sissoko (6’4) earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Sissoko showcased aggressiveness on offense, frequently driving to the basket and effectively finishing plays or drawing fouls. He emerged as the main creator for his team, averaging 16 points and 3.8 assists per game, although his turnover rate was relatively high at 3.8 turnovers per game. Additionally, Sissoko contributed significantly on the boards, averaging 9.2 rebounds per game and initiating transition plays after securing rebounds.

Roy Krupnikas (6’1) led the French team in scoring, demonstrating sound decision-making and efficiency in his shot attempts. Despite his undersized stature, Krupnikas consistently pushed the pace and exhibited versatility in attacking both on and off the ball, whether in catch-and-shoot situations or driving to the basket. Thomas Andrieux (6’9) made solid contributions on both ends of the floor, averaging 8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He displayed glimpses of his potential as an outside shooter and often attacked the basket in face-up situations. Andrieux’s strong positioning enabled him to secure numerous rebounds for his team. Theo Guedegbe (6’6) possessed great positional size and showcased potential for growth despite appearing relatively raw. He made overall contributions across all facets of the game for his team. Representatives of the 2008-generation, Marvyn Wade (6’3) and Joel Kamta (6’8), received significant playing time, demonstrating their potential. Wade appeared comfortable playing alongside older players and exhibited decisiveness in attacking the rim. Defensively, his active hands led to 2.2 steals per game. Kamta, although still developing physically, showed glimpses of finishing plays in the post and proved to be a strong rebounder. Both Wade and Kamta are names to watch for in the future.

Valencia Basket

The Spanish team didn’t perform at their peak, finishing in 5th place. Jorge Carot (6’8) stood out by averaging double figures in points (15 points on 58.3% shooting on 2-point attempts) and securing 8.2 rebounds per game. Although undersized for a center, Carot displayed strength and power, particularly as an exceptional finisher near the rim. He utilized his body effectively to position himself and achieve high efficiency in scoring. Additionally, Carot showcased his prowess as a rebounder, consistently grabbing boards while maintaining strong positioning. However, he found himself in some foul trouble in the first two games, which limited his playing time.

Salvador Gallego (6’5), though slightly undersized for a forward, demonstrated great versatility on both ends of the floor. He showcased his scoring ability both inside and outside, emerging as a strong finisher near the basket. Gallego also contributed on the boards and facilitated transition plays for the team. Pau Torrens (6’2) served as the primary ball handler for Valencia, dictating the pace of the game. Torrens displayed aggression in driving to the basket, capable of either finishing strong or finding open teammates for scoring opportunities both inside and outside the arc.

Aris Midea Thessaloniki

Aris Midea finished the tournament in 6th place, with Filippos Tsachtsiras (6’9) emerging as a standout player for the team. The Greek power forward averaged an impressive 18 points per game, shooting 36.4% from behind the arc on 8.25 attempts per game, showcasing his potential as a stretch big. Tsachtsiras was a consistent threat, particularly effective in the Pick and Pop playstyle. He also displayed tenacity on the boards, averaging 6.8 rebounds per game and leading his team in that category.

Vasilis Kazamias (6’6) contributed significantly to Aris with his well-rounded performances on both ends of the floor. As the third-leading scorer for Aris with 11.8 points per game, Kazamias also served as the primary creator for his team. His lengthy build and excellent court vision allowed him to anticipate and execute fast passes, providing open looks for his teammates. Additionally, Kazamias applied pressure on the ball defensively, utilizing his big wingspan to disrupt opponents. However, he occasionally struggled with decision-making and creating space for himself off the dribble. Epameinondas Epameinondas (6’4) demonstrated his abilities as a two-way shooting guard, with good positional size and above-average athleticism. Excelling as a three-point shooter, Epameinondas showcased his fluid off-ball movement and rapid shooting execution. Despite missing the tournament opener, he averaged 14.7 points per game on 42.9% shooting from behind the arc on 7 attempts per game. Defensively, he displayed high energy and effort, applying pressure on the ball and denying passing lanes. Vasilis Pourlidas (6’5) showed glimpses of his scoring ability, although his three-point shots did not consistently fall during the tournament. Unfortunately, Chrisostomos Chatzilamprou, considered one of Greece’s top prospects from the 2008 generation, did not play due to injury.

Virtus Bologna

Virtus Bologna secured a 7th place finish after defeating Dubai Falcons in the 7th placement game. Matteo Baiocchi (6’5) and Matteo Accorsi (6’2) emerged as the main players to watch for Virtus, forming a dynamic backcourt duo. Both representatives of the 2007-generation, Baiocchi averaged 12.8 points and Accorsi averaged 16.5 points per game, showcasing their versatility and skill. Baiocchi exhibited a well-rounded game, capable of both scoring and playmaking with 2.8 assists per game, primarily through kick-out passes. Additionally, he contributed significantly on the boards with 6 rebounds per game, utilizing his strong frame effectively to drive to the basket.

Accorsi demonstrated his shooting prowess, averaging 32.4% from behind the arc on 8.5 attempts per game. He excelled in spot-up and catch-and-shoot situations, utilizing his shooting threat to attack closeouts and drive to the rim with relative success. Accorsi also displayed a willingness to push the tempo whenever possible. Riccardo Dalla Cia (6’8), another player from the 2007-generation, played at the center position, showcasing promising glimpses of his potential as an interior presence. Despite being slightly undersized for his position, Dalla Cia displayed good finishing ability near the rim and showed potential in the post game. Matteo Lenci (6’7) impressed with his great positional size for a wing and versatile playing style. Although still somewhat raw with a thin frame, Lenci utilized his length effectively to finish with ease near the basket. Defensively, he demonstrated the ability to defend on the perimeter, utilizing his long arms to disrupt passing lanes and generate steals. Overall, Virtus Bologna showcased a talented roster with promising young players like Baiocchi, Accorsi, Dalla Cia, and Lenci.

Dubai Falcons Academy

Dubai Falcons finished 8th in the tournament, despite showcasing some excellent performances throughout. Aleksa Vlajic (6’9) emerged as a key player for the Falcons, averaging a double-double with 15.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Possessing good positional size, strength, and agility, Vlajic displayed a strong understanding of the game, making sound decisions on offense. He scored effectively from both the perimeter and close to the basket, utilizing his mobility to outmaneuver opposing bigs.

Marko Tofoski (6’4) led the Falcons in scoring with an average of 15.8 points per game, demonstrating his scoring prowess, particularly when driving inside. Tofoski showcased excellent ball protection, finishing well and exhibiting fearlessness in the face of contact, thanks to his high basketball IQ and situational awareness. Lazar Stojkovic (6’10) contributed as a mobile center, utilizing his size and length to score near the rim and secure rebounds for the team. Konstantinos Chantzis (6’3) initially had a slow start in terms of scoring but exploded in the last game with 24 points. As the Greek point guard, Chantzis orchestrated the pace of the game for the Falcons, displaying aggression when driving to the basket and providing open looks for his teammates. Although his shooting percentages suffered due to the slow start, Chantzis remained active defensively, putting pressure on opponents with his active hands. Anthony Rodriguez (6’10) added another dimension to the Falcons’ interior presence. Despite needing further physical development, Rodriguez showcased power and size, demonstrating good scoring touch and finishing ability. He displayed impressive speed in dunking the ball with ease and showed promise in rebounding and shot-blocking, although he appeared somewhat raw in terms of body control and coordination.