2014 FIBA U17 World Championships - Players to Watch Part One

Our Batang Gilas U17 squad, undersized and all, is battling in Dubai against the best young hoopsters the world over. This is the first time this youth squad has made this sort of impact in hoops history, and they deserve all the credit. Still, one has to wonder about the kind of world class talents our boys are bound to face. Some of these guys will be drafted in the NBA in a few years. Some might turn out to be All-Stars. Maybe the next Dirk Nowitzki? The next Gasol brothers? The next Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker? Who knows? 

Some of the brightest young stars are on display in Dubai!

Let’s meet some of the non-Pinoy players to watch in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships.

Forward-Center - 6’10 - 17 years old - Bishop O’Dowd HS
2013 FIBA Americas U16 line: 12.0ppg, 9.8rpg, 2.6bpg, 1.2spg
- Rabb is one of the top NCAA prospects in the States. He is projected by ESPN to be the top recruit in 2015. NUMBER ONE. And yet he didn’t play a single minute in Team USA’s opener against Greece. Maybe he’s the ace up coach Don Showalter’s sleeve? We’ll see, but the fact is this kid is maybe the best player on this club. He’s tall, has a 7’0 wingspan, has great timing on the glass and around the rim, and can finish. 
Ivan Rabb might be the top draft pick in the NBA
in a couple of years.
(image from Team USA)

Shooting Guard - 6’4 - 17 years old - Callaway HS
2013 FIBA Americas U16 line: 16.2ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.0apg, 2.8spg, 2.0 triples per game, .357 3pt%, .556 FG%
- Newman is #3 in the same ESPN Class of 2015 where Rabb is at the top. Newman is considered the best HS guard in the States, and he is projected to be a high draft pick in the NBA as early as 2016. Though he’s a natural SG, his size might force him to learn PG skills if he wants to be successful in the pros. Here at the FIBA U17 level, however, look for him to dominate on both ends. Against, Greece, Newman tallied 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 treys.

Malik Newman skies against the Greek giant.

Center - 7’1 - 17 years old - Panathinaikos Club
2013 FIBA Europe U16 Championships line: 14.3ppg, 10.4rpg, 2.3bpg, .520 FG%
- Papagiannis is coming off a stint with the Greek U18 team in the 2014 Eurobasket U18 tourney, so forgive him if he doesn’t dominate right off the bat. Still, he was impressive against the Americans in Greece’s opener, dropping a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double against guys with whom he’ll probably play in the NBA in a few years’ time. I mean, this kid is 7’1, might still grow, and already has great footwork and is a strong finisher. 

Georgios Papagiannis might be the new "Greek Freak."

Guard-Forward - 6’7 - 17 years old - Joventut Badalona Club
2013 FIBA Europe U16 Championships line: 12.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.3apg, 1.9spg, 1.7 triples per game
- As a 6’7 wingman, Xabier is an awesome find for the Spanish youth team. He can score from practically anywhere on the floor, and is definitely one of Spain’s top choices on offense. He’s also a pretty good playmaker and is an aggressive defender. In Spain’s first game against Puerto Rico, Xabier shot 52% from the 2-point range on his way to a team-high 15 points. Coach Jose Ignacio Hernandez will certainly continue to look to Xabier for leadership and scoring moving forward.

Xabier Lopez-Arosteguj takes it strong against Leandro Allende.

Point Guard - 6’5 - 17 years old - Barcelona Club
2013 FIBA Europe U16 Championships line: 9.3ppg, 7.1rpg, 4.6apg, 1.6spg, 1.0 triples per game, .500 FG%
- The German U16 team probably still remembers Peno burning the nets with 5 treys in their quarterfinal encounter last year. Peno topscored for Serbia in that game with 23 points, showcasing his whole arsenal and racking up a near-triple-double with 9 assists and 8 rebounds. This is what makes Peno extremely dangerous. Milos Glisic and Vojislav Stojanovic can lead the team in scoring, but Peno is the glue that enables coach Vanja Gusa’s system to kick in.

Serbia's Stefan Peno is one fast
rising star in European hoops.

Unless otherwise specified, all images are from FIBA.

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1 Comment

Ivan Rabb is currently injured daw. IIRC, sprained ankle ata.