Zalgiris, Rytas rivalry headlines ANGT Kaunas qualifier

Feb 05, 2019 by David Hein, Euroleague.net Print
Zalgiris, Rytas rivalry headlines ANGT Kaunas qualifier

Reigning continental champion U18 Rytas Vilnius will be out to repeat its status as winner of the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament Kaunas. But it will face a stiff challenge from three other past champions in the field, including a hungry host side, U18 Zalgiris Kaunas. Joining the 2012 and 2018 champion Rytas and 2003 and 2007 title-holder Zalgiris in competing at Zalgirio Arena will be 2010 and 2017 winner U18 CFBB Paris and U18 CSKA Moscow, which is the record three-time champion from 2004, 2005 and 2006. The other four teams competing from Friday, February 8 to Sunday, February 10 will be U18 DBA Copenhagen, U18 Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, U18 Stellazzurra Rome and U18 Torrons Vicens L'Hospitalet. The eight teams are split into two groups of four and will play a round-robin format within each group. The two first-place teams from those groups will face off on Sunday in the ANGT Kaunas first-place game, whose victor will join ANGT Valencia winner U18 Valencia Basket and ANGT Munich winner U18 Real Madrid as the third team qualified for the ANGT Finals in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain in May. The second-placed teams from each group in Kaunas will play for third place, the third-placed teams for fifth place and the fourth-placed teams for seventh place, also on Sunday.

Group A includes CFBB, Lokomotiv, L'Hospitalet and Zalgiris. CFBB, which used to be known as INSEP, has played in Kaunas the past four seasons, grabbing third place in 2015 and 2016, finishing in second place in 2017 en route to claiming the crown at the ANGT Finals, and then taking fifth place last season. The Russian club Lokomotiv will be making its ANGT debut. L'Hospitalet, meanwhile, will be playing its first ANGT event as a guest, as it was the home team for the ANGT L'Hospitalet between the 2007-08 season and this one. The Spanish club won its first ANGT game in 2015 and reached the semifinals in 2017 with two victories. Last season it was 1-3 in finishing seventh on its home court. For its part, Zalgiris will be out for revenge after losing to Stellazzurra in the final group game last season for its first-ever loss at the ANGT Kaunas, snapping a 22-game winning streak dating back to 2012. Zalgiris ended up placing third last season in Kaunas. Group B includes CSKA, Copenhagen, Rytas and Stellazzurra. CSKA has played at ANGT Kaunas in four of the last five seasons, also appearing at ANGT Rome in 2016. CSKA finished fourth last season and was third in 2017, the year it received a wild card for its first ANGT Finals appearance since 2007. Copenhagen will be making its debut under the DBA name but played at ANGT Kaunas in 2011-12 and ANGT Belgrade in 2014-15 as U18 Vaerlose BBK, taking fourth and sixth place, respectively. The Copenhagen team is no longer just a club, but also an academy run by the Denmark basketball federation. Rytas, meanwhile, did not lose an ANGT game all last season, going 4-0 in Kaunas and 4-0 at the ANGT Finals to hoist the trophy in Belgrade. After winning the ANGT L'Hospitalet in 2012 and ANGT Siauliai in 2013, Rytas had previously reached the ANGT Kaunas first-place game in 2016, losing to Zalgiris. The other team in Group B is Stellazzurra, which lost only two ANGT games all season, both of them to Rytas. The first was in the ANGT Kaunas first-place game and the other in the ANGT Finals Championship Game. The Italian club returns to Kaunas for its second season after playing in Belgrade in 2017 following a number of years hosting the ANGT Rome qualifier.