U18 FC Barcelona last captured the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament title in 2016. Michael Caicedo said he is ready to end that U18 continental hardware drought after helping the club take first place at the ANGT Valencia.
Caicedo tallied 29 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 6 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 37 in helping Barcelona knock off U18 Joventut Badalona 79-55 in the ANGT Valencia first-place game. That victory earned Barcelona a berth at the ANGT Finals at the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four for the first time since 2017.
"I am happy about reaching the Final Four with the team. We worked hard and I think we will do good things there. I cannot wait to get there and compete. We will also try to win and enjoy the experience since last year we were not able to qualify,” said Caicedo, who as a 16-year-old could only help Barcelona place fourth at the 2019-20 ANGT Valencia.
For the 2020-21 tournament, Caicedo averaged 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals for a PIR of 19.5. He ranked third in scoring and second in PIR while leading the competition in three-point shooting percentage at 43.8%.
Now the goal is to add a trophy to the Barcelona clubhouse.
"We will try everything we can to give that trophy to our club because we know it's been too long without winning it," the shooting guard said. "We are representing one of the top clubs in Europe, so we hope to do good things there and take the trophy back home."
The basketball world almost missed out on having Caicedo in it. The native of Mallorca moved to Barcelona for family reasons and he had actually been playing football his entire life.
"One day my stepfather said that if someday I wanted to try basketball, due to my height, I could do so, and if I didn't like it, I could go back to football. So I tried it, and the rest is history. I stayed in basketball because I liked it a lot. I think it's one of the most beautiful sports," the 1.99-meter guard said.
Not only a top prospect for his club, but Caicedo has also already excelled with the Spanish youth ranks. He averaged 11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game as Spain won the title at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2019.
When asked what his favorite memories of the championship run in Italy were, Caicedo said: "After the games, when we won. Those were moments of being united, playing music, being happy and congratulating each other. I will cherish those moments."
Just like in the ANGT Valencia first-place game, Caicedo stepped up in the U16 European Championship final against France by scoring 21 points with 5 three-pointers and 5 rebounds.
This is Caicedo’s fourth season with Barcelona’s B-team and he has a clear favorite among the club’s professionals: "Watching the games, Adam Hanga is one of my favorite players in the club and I watch him a lot, both on and off the court," he said.
Caicedo’s performance in Valencia helped convince management that he was ready for a step up and on Saturday he was called up to train under Coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and the Barcelona first team for the first time.
In addition to having many great players in the pro club, another key element of the Barcelona basketball team is the Catalan rivalry with Joventut from the city suburb of Badalona. The two clubs had plenty of big-game ANGT history coming into the Valencia encounter.
Joventut defeated Barcelona in the ANGT Championship Game in 2013 and the first-place game at the 2017-18 ANGT L’Hospitalet. Barcelona bested Joventut for first place at the ANGT L’Hospitalet in 2016-17. Beating Joventut for a chance to play at the ANGT Finals meant that much more to Caicedo.
"To me, it brings up many memories we experienced in games played against them. That is the Catalan derby - Joventut vs. Barca - so I am happy to have won this game," Caicedo said. "I am happy having won the MVP, but I would have not been able to do it without my teammates, the coaching staff and the physio staff. I am very happy, but now we must keep working."
Because there is still that Barcelona trophy case that is looking to add a second ANGT crown next to the lonely one from 2016.