Pre Olimpic Tournament
By Vinicius Panerari
The PO Tournament took place in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, August 30th to September 11th. Ten teams were divided into two groups playing to qualify for the Olympic Games in London, 2012. With the American National team exempt from the contest (they won the World Championship Tournament) there was two spots available and two weeks of the best of Americas.
Argentina topped Brazil in the final but both teams qualified for the London Olimpic Games after beating Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic in the semi finals.
On the court a lot of talent and interesting young players emerged, NBA players like Ginobili, Scola, Noccioni, Delfino of Argentina, Horford, Villanueva, Garcia for Dominican Republic, Splitter for Brazil, Aroyo and Barea for Puerto Rico and Vasquez of Venezuela were there. Here is a recap of the best young NBA prospects of the competition.
Top Draft eligible players
1. Augusto Lima – Brazil-(PF, 6-9/1991 born) Unicaja Malaga-Spain 10 games: 2,3pts;1,9reb
Augusto is on the NBA radar since he arrived in Spain and here he had his first chance to prove himself with his national team in an international competition and did not disappoint. He had limited minutes on the court but it was enough to see that he is a physical specimen, plays very hard and is not afraid to defend established and respected players. Augusto still has a raw offensive game, he scores mainly on offensive rebounds or converting under the basket using his explosiveness. He has average touch and scoring ability, needs to work his shooting mechanics. He can’t drive to the basket and does not have many moves. On defense, he is a very strong kid, does not have a thick body but is tall and a good leaper. He cab block shots and get strong rebounds above the rim. If he works hard to gain some weight and improve his offensive abilities he can be useful NBA player in the future.
2. Rafael Luz– Brazil- (PG- 6-3/1992 born) Unicaja –Spain 10 games:2,5pts;1,4ass
If there were any doubts about Luz’s capacity playing as a PG, they are now finished. Rafael played as a back up of the best PG of the tournament (Marcelo Huertas) played with consistency and maturity for a kid of his age. He is a player with a great energy and intensity but at this point he also plays with a lot of intelligence, running the team, calling the plays and finishing with confidence when needed. Played great defense and used his good body to stop some of the best PGs of this Tournament. Made good decisions and did not disappoint, showing improvement in all games. Has a good future to play in Europe if he never reaches NBA status.
3. Kelly Olynyk– Canada (PF, 6-11/1991 born) Gonzaga U-USA: 8games: 6,9pts/3,75reb
The Canadian team fell short of expectations but Kelly made use of the opportunity that coach Rautins gave him. A tall player with good shooting range and-around game. Showed some maturity for a kid of his age, passing the ball and being effective when he had the chance to score with 3 pointers and perimeter shots mostly, not a good defender in a 1-on-1 situation but got some good rebounds on offense and had a positive attitude on defense to defend stronger and more experience players. Still needs to work on his body and on his inside game. Can have a good career on Europe if he does not get drafted.
4. Greg Echenique – Venezuala- (C, 6-8/1990 born) Creighton USA 8games: 6,1pts; 5,1 rebts.
Greg had a very solid tournament helping the always unpredictable Venezuelan team to positive results that came most because of him. He is a strong presence inside, not so athletic but knows how to use his weight, getting a lot of rebounds on offensive and defensive end. Improved a lot his offensive game, with good consistency of his shots and some good moves near the basket. Showed good leadership and excellent attitude, was not afraid in any situation and finished well every time his team needed. He can make a strong career overseas and be a very safe center for a team on Europe or South America.
5. Orlando Sanchez– Dominican Rep-( SF, 6-9/1988 born) Monroe College USA 10 games: 2,1pts; 1,9reb.
Despite playing limited minutes for his team as backup for NBA’s Francisco Garcia, Orlando showed some flashes of talent. He is a SF with great size, long and very athletic player, decent 3pt shooter and a over all player that can do a little bit of everything on the court. Good rebound timing and plays well on fast breaks finishing strong with highlight plays. A player to keep an eye on for the future.
6. Mathias Calfani- Uruguay- (PF, SF, 6-8/1992 born) Bigua Uruguay 8 games: 3,6pts; 2,5rebs
Mathias was a breath of fresh air and a surprise for an old team Uruguay. He had a very decent tournament showing a good attitude and commitment. He plays with a lot of intensity, a hard working kid that always gives 100% on the court. Does not have good weight and size to play as a PF but has some good moves, especially facing the basket and when defended by heavier players. Runs the court well, a strong rebounder and defender and has good leaping ability that he uses to finish the plays with authority. Needs to improve his game in a more competitive league, can be a SF if he improved his outside shot.
7. Vitor Benite- Brazil -(SG/PG- 6-3/1990 born) –Limeira-Brazil;10 games: 6,7pts;0,9reb
Vitor is a classic Brazilian shooter, excellent shooting range, can score from any place on the court. Started very slow in the competition but in the end was very important to Team Brazil. Has a great understanding of the game and is very intelligent with and without the ball. Very intense and mature, makes good decisions and is very aggressive offensively. Has to work a lot on his defense, is not very athletic but has good attitude. Vitor can have some additional upside if he turns to a PG on the future, as a PG he can have a long international career.