2014 FIBA U17 World Championships - Players to Watch Part Two

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? 

The second set of young 'uns who'll take the world by storm!

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

Small Forward - 6’8 - 17 years old - Stella Azzurra Roma Club
2013 FIBA Europe U16 Championships line: 14.0ppg, 7.1rpg, 3.0apg, 2.2spg, 1.1 triples per game 
- La Torre was Italy’s top gun in the 2013 FIBA Europe U16 tourney, leading the Azzurri to a top four finish behind Spain, Serbia, and Greece. La Torre is a big wingman, able to post up smaller foes and use his quickness against taller guys. He has struggle a little bit in Dubai so far, averaging just 6 points, 3 rebounds, and under 2 dimes a game. He has also shot just 6/19 from the field, but things should pick up for him soon. Look for La Torre to have a breakout game to close out group play or early in the knockout phase.
Andrea La Torre looks to be the leader of Team Italia in Dubai.

Guard - 6’5 - 17 years old - Athlete Institute
2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championships line: 17.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.6apg, 2.4spg, 2.4 triples per game, .414 3pt%
- The Canadians are playing here without two of their brightest young stars — Justin Jackson and Nolan Narain — so the onus will be on Murray to lead this team. That’s why he’s the team captain, so far, however, he hasn’t really been stellar. He struggled against the French, shooting just 3/13 from the field to finish with 8 points. He did, however, play much better against an overmatched Japanese side. Murray dropped 14 markers on 5/9 FG shooting as Canada rebounded from an opening day defeat. We have yet to see his best game, though, as he hasn’t really found his range yet from the outside.

Jamal Murray hopes to lead a somewhat depleted Canadian five deep into the tournament.

Small Forward - 6’6 - 16 years old - Vila Clotilde
2013 FIBA Africa U16 Championships line: 17.9ppg, 10.3rpg, 1.7spg, 1.4bpg, 1.0 triple per game, .500 FG%
- Jungo used his size advantage to the hilt against the Philippines, tallying 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks as Angola notched win #1. At 6’6 and possessing great handles and shooting, Jungo is definitely a bright young prospect for Angola. He’s great at both ends of the floor and has terrific motor (he played 30 minutes against PHI). As of this writing, Angola just got clobbered by Team USA, 99-56, but Jungo still did well, scoring 13 points against future NBA talent.

Angolan ace Alex Joao Jungo dreams of playing Stateside one day.

Center-Forward - 6’9 - 16 years old - Zhejiang Lions Club
2013 FIBA Asia U16 Championships line: 20.6ppg, 12.9rpg, 4.2bpg, .696 FG%
- Hu was a beast in last year’s FIBA Asia tourney, racking up five double-doubles as the Chinese swept the competition, 9-0. He scored at least a dozen points in all games and led the competition with 4.2 swats per outing. He held his own as China faced Serbia in its first game, too. Hu put up another double-double line — 13 markers and 12 boards — but even that wasn’t enough as the Chinese fell to the Serbs. Still, look out as Hu might have a couple of huge games left in him for this tournament.

Hu Jinqiu is bound to improve as he goes up against world-class talent.

Guard-Forward - 6’3 - 16 years old - Chaminade Madonna HS
2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championships line: 5.8ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.4apg, 1.0 triple per game, .500 3pt%
- Allende’s stats from last year won’t jump out at anyone, but he has been terrific so far for Puerto Rico. He recorded 16 points and 5 rebounds in their upset of the Spaniards on day one while dropping 13 markers as they upended the Italians on day two. He’s slowly emerging as one of coach Daniel Ortiz’s stars, and he’s certainly one guy on whom we have to keep tabs as the competition progresses.

Second-generation hoopster Leandro Allende wishes to
follow in his father's hallowed trail.

All images are from FIBA.

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