For those Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament fans saddened that the 2021 ANGT Finals are over and wishing they could watch more of the stars from this past season, you are in luck.
Plenty of 2020-21 ANGT stars expected back next season
That is because many of the top players from the just-completed season will likely be back for 2021-22 since they were born in 2004... or even later.
There are many benefits to pushing a player from a younger generation and having them play with older players. One of them is that they learn by watching others and have less pressure to perform. And then those youngsters have the experience to call upon when it’s their time to shine for their own generation.
Many players born in 2004 or later excelled during the 2020-21 campaign, leaving ANGT fans’ appetites whetted for how they will perform next season.
Those ANGT fans and participants hoping freshly-crowned champion U18 Real Madrid will not be as strong in 2021-22 will not find much solace in the fact that the majority of the team that claimed the club’s third ANGT title and second in a row will be back.
Seven of the players from the team in Valencia were born in 2004, including ANGT Finals MVP Eli Ndiaye and top guards Juan Nunez and Urban Klavzar and Sediq Garuba. Jan Vide was born in 2005 and center Amadou Traore is a cadet from Real’s 2007 generation.
Real’s opponent in the ANGT Championship Game, U18 FC Barcelona, also has reason to look forward to next season after its young players showed they can perform. Big man James Nnaji was named to the ANGT Finals all-tournament team as he averaged nearly a double-double to go with 3.3 blocks. Rafa Villar is an unselfish point guard, exhibited by nearly a double-double against U18 Valencia Basket with 8 rebounds and 9 assists and 0 points with just 1 missed three-pointer. There is also big man Teodor Simic from the younger generation.
U18 Mega SoccerBet Belgrade was hoping to finally pick up its first ANGT title but came up short, losing to Barcelona in the key group stage game. But the two-time finalist will be returning one of its absolute leaders in Nikola Djurisic, who was named to the all-tournament team and should be that much better next season.
The other team to nearly make the ANGT Championship Game was U18 LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, which had only two of its 11 players born in 2003 but still gave Real a challenge in its game group. All-tournament team selection Kymany Houinsou is a model of the idea of pushing a player as this was his third ANGT season despite still being a generation younger. Daryl Doualla was also a leader from the 2004 group and ASVEL had several 2005-born players who impressed over long stretches of the ANGT Finals, including Killian Malwaya, Zaccharie Risacher and Francois Wibaut. Many of ASVEL’s top players also got to experience even older competition during the season, playing in and winning the U21 French League.
U18 Stellazzurra Rome had the bad luck of having to face Barcelona and Mega in its group, but the tournament was a learning experience, especially for the trio of 2004-born players Fabrizio Pugliatti, Rokas Jocys and Matteo Visintin. U18 Zalgiris Kaunas will have the duo of Paulius Murauskas and Motiejus Krivas back next season and U18 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade’s 2004-born guard Ognjen Matovic performed well with nearly 10 points, more than 5 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
There were also younger players who excelled during the season for teams that did not reach the ANGT Finals. U18 Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Ido Menchel is from the 2004 generation and he poured in 20.8 points to go with 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists. U18 Casademont Zaragoza’s 2005-born big man Aday Mara was dominant at times as he collected 8.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks despite being two years younger. Also two years younger and dominating was Kany Tchanda of U18 Herbalife Gran Canaria with 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
Looking at the number of younger players who shined in 2020-21 and knowing they will be back to show even more next season makes the wait for the 2021-22 campaign at least a little easier.