The inaugural EuroLeague Academy Tournament Athens U12 came to a close on Thursday with a spirited championship game at which hundreds of their fellow students were on hand to cheer the two finalists teams, Ellinoaggliki and Leonteios Neas Smyrnis.
In the end, Leonteios Neas Smyrnis prevailed by a score of 42-34 to lift the EuroLeague Academy trophy, but winners could be found everywhere among the participants across the Greek capital, aged 12 and under, who took advantage of a new opportunity to play basketball with their peers.
The tournament saw more than 100 boys and girls from the wider Athens area to become part of this new project of Euroleague Basketball.
Thursday's big finish took place at the Eurohoops Dome and was attended by Theo Papaloukas, the Euroleague Basketball Legend, who gave children some well-placed advice on the values that come with playing team basketball and the importance of learning how to win – and how to lose. Papaloukas presented the trophy to the winning team.
"I'm very happy with the first edition of the Euroleague Academy," Papaloukas said. "I'm glad the project was run with the participation of the schools. I hope the standards of the tournament in the Eurohoops Dome matched the high standards of the EuroLeague."
The U12 tournament in Athens was the second EuroLeague Academy Tournament to come to a close for this season. The Athens U13 tournament, as well as those in Istanbul and Tel Aviv, are still in progress.
EuroLeague Academy, the grassroots brand of Euroleague Basketball, is focused on the development of youth tournaments across various cities in Europe. The initiative launched in April and has so far featured tournaments in Tel Aviv, Athens, Istanbul and Vitoria-Gasteiz.
The aim of the tournament is to engage children, both boys and girls, in the regular competitive practice of basketball, also promoting the life skills that are integral to basketball by harnessing the power of EuroLeague players, coaches and ambassadors, who will representing the member clubs and support the tournaments.