The EuroLeague Academy Tournament Istanbul Final Four crowned the first winner of the competition in the Turkish Metropolis on Wednesday. With Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul guard Sinan Guler looking on, FMV Isik Erenkoy celebrated winning the title at Metro Energy Arena Istanbul.
Local Turkish Airlines EuroLeague sides Anadolu Efes and Fenerbahce partnered with the EuroLeague Academy in this venture and together organized a competition that featured more than 200 children on 16 teams from different schools. The assistance of Fenerbahce and Efes proved their dedication to working with their communities and growing the sport of basketball in Istanbul and helped make the tournament such a success.
Wednesday saw the semifinals played in the morning before Eyuboglu Camlica and FMV Isik Erenkoy met in the championship game in the afternoon. Before the title game, Guler attended to show his support.
"It is very important for the EuroLeague to reach out to the communities and start a grassroots program," Guler said at the event. "It is one thing for the kids to come to the arena and see the EuroLeague games live, but for them to be part of this excitement and realize their potential is great to see. I know many players have their own grassroots programs and for the EuroLeague to join this cause helps a lot. I know it's just the first step, but maybe 10 years down the line we will see one of these kids play in the EuroLeague."
During the season, the participants not only played competitive basketball and had fun, but they also had opportunities to meet EuroLeague players and ambassadors. The competition featured both boys and girls with the aim to promote the values of sport, such as inclusion, teamwork and respect towards other participants including teammates, referees and opponents.
EuroLeague Academy, the grassroots brand of Euroleague Basketball, is focused on the development of youth tournaments across various cities in Europe. The initiative was launched in April and has already featured tournaments in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Tel Aviv and Athens.