The fourth and final automatic ticket for the Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT Finals is up for grabs this weekend at ANGT Belgrade. The 2014 continental champion, U18 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, is the event host and winner of the last seven qualifying tournaments held in the Serbian capital. Zvezda is the only former champion in an eight-team Belgrade field that also includes U18 Mega Bemax Belgrade, which lost to U18 CFBB Paris in last year’s ANGT Championship Game. Zvezda and Mega, who met in last year’s ANGT Belgrade final, headline the two groups of four teams each. In Group A with Zvezda are U18 Anadolu Efes Istanbul from Turkey, U18 Spars Ziraat Bank Sarajevo from Bosnia and Herzegovina and U18 Umana Reyer Venice from Italy. Group B’s other three teams are U18 Cibona Zagreb from Croatia, U18 GBA Prague from the Czech Republic and U18 Partizan NIS Belgrade from Serbia. The teams will play each other in their group round-robin style with the two first-place teams to face off on Sunday at Zeleznik; the winner will receive a ticket to the ANGT Finals along with ANGT L’Hospitalet winner U18 Divina Seguros Joventut, ANGT Kaunas champion U18 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius and ANGT Munich victor U18 Real Madrid.
Zvezda enters the tournament as a seven-time reigning champion, having won each year from 2011 to 2017. The Serbian power won the ANGT Finals in 2014 and lost in the ANGT Championship Game in both 2015 and 2016. Zvezda also comes into the event with a 31-game winning streak in qualifying tournaments, dating back to an 85-69 loss to U18 Beovuk 72 in the 2011 edition. Efes is back in the competition after not playing last year. In 2016, the Turkish club was 0-4 at ANGT Rome in its first appearance since the 2012 ANGT Finals. Spars is playing in the ANGT for the seventh straight year. It finished fourth in Belgrade last year, one year after losing to Zvezda in the 2016 ANGT Belgrade final. Spars appeared in the ANGT Finals in 2013 and 2015. Venice is making its third go-around in the competition after placing last in Belgrade in 2015 and finishing seventh in Rome in 2016. The club did not compete in the ANGT last year.
Mega is a growing power in the ANGT; it lost just twice last year - in the ANGT Belgrade final to Zvezda and in the ANGT Championship Game to U18 CFBB Paris. Mega claimed victory in the ANGT Rome tournament and reached the ANGT Finals in 2016. It also lost to Zvezda in the ANGT Belgrade final in 2013. Cibona is appearing in the ANGT for the fifth time in six years - and will be playing at a different location for the fifth straight time. It was fifth at ANGT Coin last year after taking third at ANGT Kaunas in 2016. In 2014, Cibona played in Rome and a year earlier participated in ANGT Siauliai. GBA will be playing in the ANGT for the second time after finishing sixth last year in Belgrade with one victory in its maiden showing. Partizan is coming off its worst performance in going 0-4 for an eighth-place finish last year in Belgrade. Partizan, which has never played in the ANGT Finals, reached the ANGT Belgrade final twice, losing to Zvezda in 2012 and 2015.