Six former winners have come to Istanbul looking to have their names engraved on the trophy as the 2016-17 EUROLEAGUE BASKETBALL ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT champions in this historic 15th edition of the annual under-18 showcase event.
U18 FC Barcelona Lassa is the reigning champion and the Spanish giant is hoping to become the first repeat winner since U18 FMP went back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. Seven different teams have won the crown in the seven years since FMP last hoisted the hardware – and all seven of them had won the title for the first time in club history.
That is just one of the many storylines as the ANGT Finals tip off on Thursday, May 18 at Ahmet Comert Arena, adjacent to the Sinan Erdem Dome – site of this weekend’s Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four as well as the ANGT Championship Game.
The breakdown of round-robin play has Barcelona playing in a Group A with three other past continental champs: U18 CSKA Moscow, which has won a record three titles as well as the only three-peat from 2004 to 2006; U18 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, which has reached the title game in each of the past three years and won it in 2014; and 2010 winner U18 CFBB Paris. Barcelona and Zvezda are two of the four ANGT Qualifiers winners; Barcelona won the title at ANGT L’Hospitalet and Zvezda claimed victory at ANGT Belgrade.
Group B has two former ANGT trophy-holders in U18 Zalgiris Kaunas, the ANGT Kaunas winner, which won the inaugural tournament in 2003 and added a second title in 2007; and U18 Real Madrid, which won its first crown in 2015 and enters the ANGT Finals as winner of the ANGT Coin event. The other two teams in the group are the only ones to have not planted a flag at the summit of European junior basketball. U18 Mega Bemax Belgrade is making its second ANGT Finals appearance after reaching the final at ANGT Belgrade; while U18 Fenerbahce Istanbul is the host club and also reached the championship game in 2012.
Istanbul could witness one club taking home two trophies for just the third time as three of the teams in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four also have sides in the ANGT Finals – CSKA, Madrid and Fenerbahce. CSKA and Madrid have both won the EuroLeague-ANGT double; CSKA accomplished it in 2006 and Madrid in 2015.
While every game in the group stage will be hotly-contested, perhaps the most intriguing game could be the last one in Group A when Zvezda takes on Barcelona in a repeat of last year’s title game – and a battle that will include a number of key players back from the fateful day in Berlin. There are also several enticing potential championship game matchups, including Barcelona versus Madrid in a battle of Spanish powers; the Belgrade derby between Zvezda and Mega; and CFBB against Zalgiris, which would be a repeat of the ANGT Kaunas final.
The ANGT Championship Game hours before the EuroLeague title game could also be a precursor for the same game later in the evening as CSKA could match up against either Fenerbahce or Madrid in both finals.