25th U20 World Tournament in Tourcoing, France from Jun. 18th to 22nd, 2014: "les Bleus" defeat Turkey in the final

The World Basketball Tournament of Tourcoing, France has become a classic over the years. Eight teams showed up in at the Sport Center Leo Lagrange in Tourcoing from Jun. 18th to 22nd, 2014. Besides a selection of excellent US prospects (the USA Elite Team of Coach Linzy Davis), the seven other teams involved in the tourney are currently in their preparation campaign for the U20 FIBA European Championship for Men which will be held in Crete, Greece from Jul. 8th to 22nd. Turkey of Head Coach Erhan Toker advanced out of a tough Group A with Croatia, Germany and the USA Elite Team and reached the final after struggling hard against Israel at the semi-final stage. France of Coach Jean Aime Toupane made it out of Group B, also including Israel, Great Britain and Montenegro, and qualified for the final after winning over Croatia in the other semi-final.
Led by their star Mouhammadou Jaiteh of JSF Nanterre, who decided not to enter the NBA draft last April, the French U20 squad was able to dig the gap in the seond half of the final against Turkey. Mouhammadou Jaiteh and Guerschon Yabusele grabbed several rebounds to secure the French side's win over the Turks. The Turkish captain Tayfun Erülkü of Mersin BSB scored 14 points in only 15 minutes of play in the tourney’s final game but at the end of the day it did not help much. Two forwards combined many efforts at the rebound for the losing side : Metin Türen of Darüssafaka and Berk Demir of Pertevniyal Gencik who had 6 each. Mouhammadou Jaiteh finished as best scorer with 20 points for France. His mate Timothee Luwawu of Antibes Sharks helped him with 13 points scored in the game played at 17 :00 Jun. 22nd. The French players were more efficient in transition, creating more fastbreak situations than their opponents. Les Bleus also outscored the Turks 38-26 in the paint.
On behalf of www.eurobasket.com, I attended the event and watched the four games scheduled on Saturday, Jun. 21st. One of my sons and I hid in one corner of the gym, opposite to the bench of present teams. As far as the USA Elite Team is concerned, beside Baylor commit swingman Mark Vital, young Nigerian-American center Abdulhakim Ado and on rare occasions former Fresno State center Robert Upshaw, I was not much impressed by most of the other players on the US selection of Coach Linzy Davis (who looks as fit as ever).
I saw the game between the US squad and Montenegro at the Leo Lagrange Sport Center on Jun. 21st, watched the Germany vs. USA Elite Team game (Mark Vital was not given much time to show his skills) and Croatia vs. USA Elite Team (Vital scored 10 points but played only 15 minutes) broadcasted in web streaming on Jun. 19th and 20th respectively. I also had a close look at some of the stats published on the tournament organizing committee’s Facebook website... I previously had that very same overriding impression of disappointment about Coach Davisselection when his team including Jordan Hamilton came to the World Tournament of Douai a few years ago. That does not mean that any of the players in the 2014 USA Elite Team were not interesting, it is only that they did not convince me much.
My awards and honorable mentions were based on the potential value I perceived for each player seen in Tourcoing. What made me pick Mark Vital as the best swingman among those I saw on Jun. 21st is his power drive game, his athletic gift, his jump and quickness. In only one or two actions, he showed that he is a strong and explosive wing that can excel on the break. Yet two defensive plays by the Baylor University 2016 commit were enough to convince me : his shot-blocking skills can be a positive asset to a team’s defense. If he expands some other parts of his game like his outside shooting, he can become a great player to watch in the future. He looked like he felt lonely in the Elite group after the game against Montenegro, sitting all by himself at the cafeteria or in the stands. I personally do not think that the guy is overrated (what some observers keep telling about Vital) but I might be wrong... Only time will tell. Meanwhile, I believe he would be a perfect fit in a team with Tayfun Erülkü of Turkey, Igor Koulechov of Israel, Milija Mikovic of Montenegro and Mouhammadou Jaiteh of France who have impressed me much.
Criteria for awards or honorable mentions are always tough to define anyway. It can sometimes just be a question of feeling or becoming head over heels for a talented player.

Final: France vs. Turkey : 80-60

Score evolution: 16-16, 39-32, 61-46 and 80-60.

Best scorers:

France : A. Rozenfeld 7, K. Harley 7, B. Sene 2, C. Potens 6, A. Labanca 6, T. Luwawu 13, A. Chassang 7, C. Gaillou 2, J.D. Biog 2, M. Jaiteh 20, G. Yabusele 8.
Turkey : D. Sanli 8, D. Cevik 6, M. Türen 6, A. Kocal 7, K. Özmizrak 2, B. Demir 6, T. Altunbey 9, K. Kanter 2, T. Erülkü 14.
Final Standings: 1. France, 2. Turkey, 3. Israel, 4. Croatia, 5. Montenegro, 6. Germany, 7. Great Britain and 8. USA Elite Team
Tournament’s Top 5 (based on combined evaluation):
1. Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France)
2. Milija Mikovic (Montenegro)
3. Kenneth Ogbe (Germany)
4. Abdulhakim Ado (Nigeria/USA Elite Team)
5. Nikola Zizic (Montenegro)
My All-Tournament First Team:
PG: Tayfun Erülkü (Turkey)
SF: Igor Koulechov (Israel)
F: Mark Vital (USA Elite Team)
F/C: Milija Mikovic (Montenegro)
C: Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France)
My All-Tournament Second Team:
PG: Ismet Akpinar (Germany)
SG/F: Luka Djurovic (Montenegro)
F: Kevin Harley (France)
F: Alexandre Chassang (France)
C: Abdulhakim Ado (Nigeria/USA Elite Team)
My Honorable Mention Awards:
Naor Sharon (Israel), Rafael Menco (Israel), Metin Türen (Turkey), Kartal Özmizrak (Turkey), Robert Upshaw (USA Elite Team), Maximilian Ugrai (Germany), Karlo Zganec (Croatia) and Joshua McSwiggan (Great Britain)
(Pictures: www.sneakers-culture.com [Olivier Fusy], American Press [Kirck Meche] and tags.walla.co.il)

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