Thursday, April 26, 2012

Eurochallenge F4: Players

After focusing on Besiktas in my last post, now I bring one player of each of the other three teams, Hristo Nikolov from Szolnok, Blake Schlib from Chalon and Sergey Karasev from Triumph. Let's start with the youngest of them.

Sergey Karasev, born in 1993 is one of the european top prospects. For good reasons, as he is an all around player who can play in four different positions, with great size and impressive skills.

He's got an amazing talent to pass that makes him a huge threat when playing pick and roll situations. He can pass with both left (he's left handed) and right hands, in many different ways. The roll man has to be ready to receive his pass. Unselfish and really good at reading the defense, he will find a teammate every single time.

When it comes to shooting, Karasev's quick release allows him to shoot even if the defender is next to him. Hands and feet ready to catch and shoot. 35% in three point shots along this Eurochallenge, his percentages will improve even more in the future.

Another thing I love from Karasev, is something you don't find so often in players his age. He plays really well without the ball. Back doors, cuts... He knows the game and reads the defense to get many scoring options. His physical qualities allow him to finish hard on those cuts toward the basket.

To finsh, he's got a nice instinct to get offensive rebounds. Another side of his game knowledge that gives him second options to score. He's eager to fight for the rebounds, and this guy... can jump.

Let's talk about Blake Schlib, whose season in Chalon is being astounding. This 1'98 SF is the most important player in Chalon's offense. He can do so many things that his team can rely on him. He averages 19 points and 5 assists per game, and has had great games not only against Roanne in the quarter finals (25 points with 4/5 threes and 16 points + 6 rebs + 8 assists) but also along the season.

As we can see in the video, Chalon looks for him in low post quite often. He will post up not only against smaller players but also against those his size and bigger. He goes well towards both shoulders and he can finish in many ways. His turnaround jumpers are really hard to stop.

Another one of the things I like about Schlib are his curls towards the basket when using off ball screens. With one dribble or with no dribble at all he manages to score with lay ups or short shots. Dangerous.

Maybe he isn't the fastest player in the Final Four, but his well polished fundamentals make him a very good ball screen player. He can shoot off the dribble, he can finish with both hands, he can shoot floaters... and he likes to use some kind of hesitation to atract the defenders and beat them once they commit.

Not being a big time long range shooter, he is reliable and he will never hide when his team need his shots. Again, he reads defense quite well and finds the spot to hit the three.

As we said about Karasev, Schlib is also a dangerous player going hard to get the offensive rebound.

I'd like to finish with Hristo Nikolov. I know him well as my team faced Szolnok four times this season. I can say Nikolov is a unique player in the Hungarian league, there's no other like him. He is a power forward who can also play the small forward, and whose agressive style gives his team an extra no other team has in Hungary.

Nikolov is a great fastbreak finisher. Once he's got the advantage and he's running towards the basket, there aren't many ways to stop him. He'll never hesitate to finish those runs with dunks, as you can see.

He's good playing one on one facing the basket. He can finish hard in traffic, and he can also take a step back to hit the three. He's aggressive and has a good shooting range, but can also shoot coming off driblle. They play many times triangles in which he will be beyond the three point line creating space inside for the other big.

Dangerous spot up shooter, he knows how to punish long helps.

So it's going to be a great basketball weekend in the Eurochallenge Final Four...

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