10 players who impressed at FIBA U16 European Challengers – FIBA U16 European Challengers 2021
MUNICH (Germany) – The future of European basketball looks extremely bright with the next generation of stars showing up at FIBA’s U16 European Challengers last week.
France, Poland, Serbia, Hungary and Kosovo emerged victorious to win the Challenger titles in Skopje, Sofia, Novi Sad, Sofia (19-25) and Pristina, respectively. We take a look at the 10 players who shone the brightest across the five tournaments.
Killian Malwaya (France)
Date of Birth: May 4, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 13.4 PTS, 3.8 REB, 2.0 STL – 11.8 EFF per game
Malwaya was France’s top scorer as they swept the pitch in Skopje to claim the title. The 16-year-old fullback started the tournament with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 steals before a record 21 points followed in the group stage against Lithuania. After going 7 from 9 from the field in the semi-finals, Malwaya were held 1 from 9 in the final, although France had enough to overcome Lithuania for the second time in the week.
Martin Ude Kalu (Germany)
Date of Birth: January 28, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 27.0 PTS, 7.5 REB, 2.3 STL, 50% 3PT – 24.5 EFF per game
Kalu was one of the best players in the five Challengers with an impressive 27.0 points per game as joint top scorer. He helped Germany to three successive wins with a tally of 36 points including eight hat-tricks in a win over hosts Bulgaria. Kalu finished with 26 points in consecutive matches as his side failed in their quest for the title with a loss to Poland on the final day to miss the U17 World Cup.
Szymon Nowicki (Poland)
Date of Birth: June 2, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 17.5 PTS, 9.3 REB, 1.8 STL – 17.8 EFF per game
There was no messing about Nowicki for Poland. The 2005-born striker averaged a near-double-double as he helped his side claim four out of four wins to win the Sofia title and secure a spot at next year’s FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup . Nowicki saved his best performance for their most crucial game with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks against Germany as Poland had a perfect week.
David Pavin (Croatia)
Date of Birth: February 19, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 22.5 PTS, 5.3 REB, 4.8 AST – 19.5 EFF per game
It was a difficult week for Croatia, but their sniper was leading the way in Sofia. Pavin was the only player to average double-digit scoring after starting hot with six triples for 28 points in a loss to eventual champions Poland. Pavin went on to play two more games at 20+ points in the next two games, while dishing out 8 assists against Bulgaria.
Novi Sad Challenger
Jan Vide (Slovenia)
Date of Birth: January 15, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 27.0 PTS, 5.6 REB, 4.2 AST – 20.6 EFF per game
The Real Madrid protege was the real deal at Novi Sad. Another Challenger, another MVP award given to a Slovenian player. Vide shot 27 points per game over five games after setting the pace with a double-double of 34 points and 10 rebounds before 28 points in the following game as his team got off to a 3-0 start. However, they were beaten by Serbia despite an impressive 38 points from Vide as they had to settle for second place in the group.
Ognjen Stankovic (Serbia)
Date of Birth: March 19, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 13.8 PTS, 8.4 REB, 3.2 AST – 16.2 EFF per game
Stankovic helped Serbia to five out of five wins by winning the Challenger on home soil. The 16-year-old guard recorded two double-doubles in the week and had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in the decisive victory against Slovenia on the penultimate day. Stankovic then finished on a high with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists to secure the 5-0 record. Meanwhile, Nikola Topic scored with 17 points and 5 assists in his only appearance in the tournament opener.
Demir Dogan (Turkey)
Date of Birth: April 11, 2006 (15 years old)
Statistics: 16.2 PTS, 9.4 REB, 2.4 BLK – 19.0 EFF per game
Another emerging Turkish prospect from Besiktas ICRYPEX with Dogan showing potential to follow in the footsteps of Alperen Sengun. The 15-year-old came out of the blocks with 24 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks against Belgium before later posting another double-double of 15 points and 14 boards as well as 6 assists in a loss to Slovenia. Just the three-point trio on 18 attempts with 64% free throws.
Sofia Challenger (19-25)
Luka Alavidze (Georgia)
Date of Birth: May 5, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 16.0 PTS, 5.0 REB, 5.6 AST, 3.2 STL – 17.6 EFF per game
Alavidze didn’t exactly start with a 3-of-14 shooting night in Georgia’s opener, but the 16-year-old found the form in the games that followed to help propel his team into the finals. The full-back picked up 18 points against Cyprus ahead of back-to-back 20+ games with a best-of-24 against Hungary before contributing to a 21-7-8-7 stat line in the semi-final triumph against Ukraine. However, he would foul with 5 points in 18 minutes of a loss in the final.
Ruben Prey (Portugal)
Date of Birth: February 16, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 17.0 PTS, 18.3 REB, 5.3 BLK – 31.3 EFF per game
Prey was feasting in Sofia. Over 16 rebounds in each of Portugal’s four games with four big double-doubles and a near-triple-double. Prey started the tournament with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 7 blocks to signal his intentions and would post 21 points and 23 rebounds in a full 40-minute effort in the semifinal loss to Hungary. In the third-place game, Prey finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds and 8 blocks in a monster display to pick up the win.
Ron Dahsyla (Kosovo)
Date of Birth: May 3, 2005 (16 years old)
Statistics: 17.4 PTS, 9.6 REB, 3.4 AST, 4.0 STL – 22.8 EFF per game
Just like at the FIBA U18 European Challengers, Kosovo swept the field at U16 level with five wins out of five at home. Dahsyla served as MVP with a near double-double in the tournament of 17.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game as one of Kosovo’s many key players. The 16-year-old striker recorded three double-doubles and saved his best for last with a 30-point tally in the decisive win over Luxembourg in Saturday’s tiebreaker.