When LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball signed contracts with BC Vytautas last month, many scouts expressed doubt that either brother was prepared for the competition they would face against upper-echelon teams in Lithuania’s professional league.
On Saturday, we began to see why.
Neither LaMelo nor LiAngelo scored a single point in their first Lithuanian league game, BC Vytautas’ 95-86 road loss at Lietkabelis. LaMelo misfired on all four shots he attempted in five minutes off the bench, while LiAngelo logged nine minutes and went 0-for-3 from the floor.
The scoreless performance came only four days after the Ball brothers combined for 29 points in their pro debut against the Zalgiris junior team, an opponent whose roster consisted only of 16-18-year-old Lithuanian prospects. LaMelo, 16, demonstrated flashes of creativity and court vision off the dribble in that game, while LiAngelo, 19, used his strength to overpower younger players on the block.
Saturday was a major step up in competition as the Balls faced grown men for the first time in a game that counted in the standings. Lietkabelis entered Saturday’s game in fourth place in the Lithuanian league and has now defeated BC Vytautas six straight times.
BC Vytautas coach Virginijus Seskus did not play LiAngelo or LaMelo as many minutes Saturday as he did Tuesday because he couldn’t trust them under the circumstances. LaMelo has the talent to play at this level someday, but his poor shot selection and tendency to gamble too frequently for steals are signs of immaturity, while LiAngelo lacks the size to defend grown men in the paint or the quickness to stay in front of wings on the perimeter.
(h/t Yahoo Sports)