Felipe Dos Anjos headlines a list of five U18 Real Madrid players who will take the floor at the ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT for the second season in a row. He is joined by fellow centers Samba Ndaye and Domagoj Proleta, guard Miki Fons and forward Ignacio Ballespin to make Los Blancos a serious contender to repeat as tournament champ next week in Berlin. Of them all, no player has come from farther away than the 2.18-meter Dos Anjos.
A native of Brazil, the long, lanky Dos Anjos has come a long way since leaving his homeland to join Real Madrid’s youth system. He had already shown so much promise as a youth with Brazilian club Esporte Clube Pinheiros that Madrid welcomed him in 2012 at age 14 – a year younger than compatriot and three-time All-Euroleague center Tiago Splitter was when he moved to Baskonia in 2000.
Dos Anjos worked his way up Madrid’s youth ranks year by year and reached a highlight in his adopted hometown last season by winning the 2015 ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT title – the first in the club’s history. Although the Sao Paolo native was a non-factor in the final against U18 Crevena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, he played a major role in getting Madrid to that spot. Dos Anjos collected 11 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in the final group game at the ANGT Finals against U18 VEF Riga and averaged 5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks at the ANGT Finals. Hes had averaged 8.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks at the 2014-15 ANGT Qualifying Tournament – L’Hospitalet.
This season, Dos Anjos has not only dominated on the junior scene but has more than held his own on one of Madrid’s related senior teams. He collected the MVP trophy from the ANGT L’Hospitalet this season after starring with 9.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks while shooting 77 percent from the field. And for Madrid’s second team in the EBA this season, he has posted 9.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks, including making 3-of-7 three-pointers in his last four games.
Dos Anjos knows nothing except for winning in the ANGT thus far – winning all 14 of the games his team has played over the past season and a half. And the Brazilian doesn’t want to stop that streak in Berlin.
"My expectation is the same as at the ANGT L’Hospitalet. If we keep working hard, we will win the ANGT," Dos Anjos said. "We work hard every day on the court and off and we have a lot of discipline."
The professional coaching staff in the Madrid ranks has Dos Anjos on the right track and the center has also gained from the opportunity to see outgoing Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Real Madrid work up close and to learn from its players.
During the season Dos Anjos got a bonus when he was invited to the Basketball without Borders Global Camp in Toronto in February. Dos Anjos, who turned 18 last month, received skills training in drills run by current and former pro players who had taken part in previous Basketball without Borders camps around the world.
"It was a very important opportunity for me to take part in this and compare myself against the biggest stars around the world," he said of the event. "I've learned so much: discipline, hard work. It’s a long list."
For Dos Anjos, the highlight of the trip was the opportunity to meet Yao Ming, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this summer. "He's so tall," was Dos Anjos's initial response to his session in which Yao gave lessons on life. "He's a great person, his career was incredible. He is a role model for the players here. He was a great player."
Though he still has a long way to go to reach the accomplishments of stars like Yao, Splitter and Madrid’s current Brazilian big man, Augusto Lima, Dos Anjos can see the path he must follow to get there. And the next stop is Berlin.