FIBA qualifiers recap: Delow, Marcos, Njie and Lindo Jr

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It’s March and basketball never stops, so at the Backdoorpodcast we keep working and bringing you profiles on intriguing young ballers from around the world. Time now to have a look at last month’s FIBA Qualifiers in Europe and America, with some notes and thoughts on four Under-25 players suiting up for their countries in the first window of the cycle.
In this piece we will cover a couple of guys making their debut for their National Team at senior level despite being in the books of two EuroLeague clubs for a number of years. We will also look at two other players who have gone quietly under the radar in their club season, but have shown serious promise and intriguing flashes playing for their country.
Welcome to our first FIBA Qualifiers recap, featuring Juan Ignacio Marcos, Alagie Barra Njie, Malte Delow, and Ricky Lindo Jr.

Article written by Maceo Baller

JUAN IGNACIO MARCOS, Argentina / CB Girona (on loan from FC Barcelona)
SPAIN

As one of the most exciting ball-guards coming from Latin America of late, Juan Ignacio ‘Juani’ Marcos has been putting in the work to become a pro baller for a while. I remember the first time I watched him in a FIBA U18 Americas in St Catherine’s, Canada, where Marcos announced himself as a combo-guard with dazzling court-vision, wild downhill spin moves smooth touch and pull-up jumper package. The flair remains very much the same to this day, but we can say Juani has certainly turned into a more efficient and mature player since he moved to Spain and joined the FC Barcelona ranks in 2019.

Prior to his debut in Liga Endesa with CB Girona and with the senior National Team this season, Marcos had learned his trade in the Spanish second and third tiers, on loan at Lleida and with the Barcelona farm teams. Lean, long and agile at 6’3, Juani has vastly improved his muscle and frame  snice that time and has now embraced the role of a classic playmaker, better suited to matchup one-guards on his own end. Besides, Marcos is a natural at creating offense for others, whether he does it in mid-court (ranked in the 95th percentile by Synergy) or chooses to speed up things in the open floor (82th percentile)

Despite a wrist surgery that has cut short his domestic season to 12 games so far, Marcos is proving to be an awesome pick-and-roll facilitator that can pass the shit out of the ball in an elite competition such as Liga Endesa. He still has to control his turnovers, but can operate as a floor general in ball screens, dictate the tempo of games (21.8% usage) or slide into an off-ball role alongside other dominant guards or wings (47.8% spot-up shooter). In addition, he can self-create shots at three levels (60.0 True-Shooting %), and his scoring punch off-the-bench is a priceless weapon for a CB Girona team fighting for survival in the strongest domestic league that there is.

At this point, to make the most of his chances in Liga Endesa and impress with Argentina, Juani needs to keep working on his defensive impact and overall toughness. He’s shown intriguing tools when he puts pressure on the ball, plays passing lanes and showcases willingness in closeouts and as help defender. Marcos is a remarkable rebounder for his position who makes the most of his length and leap off two feet, too. But ultimately, much of Juani’s playing time is going to depend on how he adjusts and defends the pick-and-roll every given night, how he navigates screens and sticks to his man.

With everything said, we are ready to bet on Juani as a well-established international player that will break into an EuroLeague rotation in the near future. Could it be at FC Barcelona? You can’t be sure how things will pan out for the Catalan giants these days, with continuous roster changes, coaching swaps and economic uncertainties surrounding the club. Anyhow, Marcos has shown he will go the extra mile to succeed. And he’s not fazed by the last shot or the big moment either as his recent winner-bucket against Obradoiro exemplifies. With his feel for the game, offensive versatility and grinder ways, we should always trust the process with Juani Marcos, as well as Argentina’s impressive record on elite point-guards.