Torneo Citta di Roma tips off new ANGT season

Dec 25, 2015 by David Hein, Print
 Torneo Citta di Roma tips off new ANGT season

The 2015-16 EUROLEAGUE BASKETBALL ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT tips off in now-customary fashion with the EB ANGT Qualifying Tournament – Torneo Citta di Roma in the Italian capital from December 27 to 29 with reigning champion Stellazzurra Basketball Academy Rome hoping to defend its title and return to the ANGT Finals during the 2016 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four in Berlin. The biggest name internationally in Rome is three-time winner U18 CSKA Moscow, which has not played in the finals since 2007 and last lifted the title in 2006. CSKA is the only former champion in the eight-team ANGT Rome field, which will produce the first of eight teams for the ANGT Finals in Berlin.

Teamed up with Stellazzurra and CSKA in Group A in Rome are U18 Anadolu Efes Istanbul and U18 Virtus Bologna. Group B features U18 Armani Junior Milano, U18 Mega Leks Belgrade, U18 Umana Reyer Venice and last season’s Rome finalist U18 Unicaja Malaga. Spanish club Unicaja joined Stellazzurra at last season's ANGT Finals at the 2015 Final Four in Madrid with a wild card. The two winners of the round-robin groups will face off in the final for a spot at the 2016 Final Four in Berlin from May 12 to 15, where they will be joined by the winners of the three other ANGT qualifying tournaments as well as four wild cards. The other three qualifying tournaments will take place on January 4 to 6 in L'Hospitalet, Spain; January 15 to 17 in Kaunas, Lithuania; and February 26 to 28 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The field at the ANGT Rome has seen a lot of changes compared to last season with U18 Spars Sarajevo and U18 Cedevita Zagreb moving from the tournament in the Italian capital to the one in Belgrade and swapping with Mega Leks and Venice. Also U18 Maccabi Teddy Tel Aviv and U18 Brose Baskets Bamberg moved to L'Hospitalet and were replaced with CSKA, which played last season in Kaunas, and Efes.

Stellazzurra broke through last season with the Rome title after reaching the Rome final in 2013-14 and losing against U18 Cajasol Seville. Stellazzurra took fifth place in 2012 and fourth in 2011. CSKA went 0-3 last season in Kaunas after going 1-2 in 2013-14 in Lithuania and taking third place in Siauliai a year earlier. Efes's previous ANGT appearance was in the 2012 Finals, where it was given a wild card. Bologna finished last at ANGT Rome last season after missing the 2013-14 edition.

Milano finished sixth in Rome last season after playing in the ANGT Finals as the host club in 2013-14, when it finished third. Mega Leks is back in the ANGT for the fifth straight season. It was seventh in Belgrade last season, fourth in 2013-14 and reached the Belgrade final in 2012-13. Venice is back after taking eighth place last season in Belgrade. And Unicaja finally played at the finals again last season thanks to a wild card after taking second place at ANGT Rome a year after losing the ANGT L'Hospitalet final to Real Madrid.