Reigning champion U18 Mega MIS Belgrade faces a major battle to defend its Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament title as the 2023 ANGT Finals field features six past winners. The tournament, held alongside the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Kaunas from May 18-21, features U18 Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, U18 FC Barcelona, U18 Joventut Badalona, U18 Real Madrid and host U18 Zalgiris Kaunas, all of which have hoisted the trophy at least once and would love to be crowned in the 20th edition of the continent’s elite youth club competition. The field also includes ANGT Finals debutant U18 Panathinaikos and the star-studded U18 Next Generation Select Team.
Six past winners fighting for title at 20th ANGT Finals
The eight teams are divided into two groups of four and will play round-robin style action over the first three days. The two teams finishing atop their respective groups will face off in the ANGT Championship Game on May 21 at the legendary Kaunas Sports Hall. Group A consists of Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Real and Zvezda and Group B is made up of Joventut, Mega, NGS Team and Zalgiris.
The action in Group A is highlighted by four repeats of past championship games. Zvezda beat Real for the 2014 crown, but lost the rematch between the teams in 2015. Barcelona then beat Zvezda for the 2016 title, and Real defeated Barcelona in an El Clasico showdown in 2019. Barcelona is in the Finals for the 10th time and in addition to the title in 2016, the Spanish side reached the championship game in 2008, 2013 and 2021. Panathinaikos will be making its maiden journey in the Finals. Real has become a regular in the deciding tournament, playing in the Finals for the 10th time and ninth edition consecutively. Los Blancos won the trophy in 2015, 2019 and 2021 and finished second in 2014. Should Real win on May 21, it would take over sole possession on the list of teams with the most championships; it is currently tied with U18 CSKA Moscow. Zvezda has the current longest streak of Finals appearances at 12 straight - and is making its 13th overall. The Serbian powerhouse made the championship game three years in a row, reaching the summit in 2014 but losing the following two seasons.
The Group B teams don’t quite have as much history, but the group features the two finalists from last season when Mega beat NGS Team for the trophy. Mega is in the ANGT Finals for the seventh straight edition and has reached the finale three times, breaking through in 2022 after losing in 2017 and 2019. Like Zvezda and Mega, 2013 winner Joventut is also hoping to become the sixth club with at least two ANGT titles. The team from Badalona returns to the Finals for the fourth time and the first since 2018. Zalgiris missed the Finals last season but has played in the deciding tournament 16 times - reaching the most championship games, winning in 2003 and 2007 and losing in 2005, 2006 and 2011. Zalgiris would become the third team with three titles should it win. And the club is also hoping to win at home - something only CSKA Moscow (2005) U18 PFBB INSEP Paris (2010), Real (2015) and Mega (2022) have accomplished. Meanwhile, this will be the second ANGT Finals with the NGS Team competing.