Traditionally, the weeks around Christmas and New Year are filled with interesting tournaments. Because of logistical reasons (I moved and am still moving to a new place), I can not cover any of these tournaments live. However, here is a quick overview of the major events of the next days.
First of all, one event has already finished with the 18th Isla de Tenerife tournament. The big winner is Fiatc Joventut who won their second title after 2003. The team around Albert Homs, who could only play the two first games because of physical problems, won already the Spanish U16 championship in 2010 and looks like one of the favorites for this year’s U18 competitions. The main players for the winners were Gerard Sevillano who scored 12.5ppg and the newcomer Sergio Hernandez who arrived from Cornella and had 8.2ppg and 8.0rpg for a Final MVP performance. The second place went to the Canarias Basketball Academy that featured the tournament MVP Oskars Reinfelds while Real Madrid finished 3rd.
From next Monday, the X-Mas Tournament starts in Kortrijk and some other nearby Belgian cities. The U18 competition looks very interesting with three National Teams (Belgium, England, Switzerland) competing with the Canarias Basketball Academy, USK Future Stars, IBBA Berlin, Atletas Kaunas and Maccabi Ramat Gan from Israel. IBBA Berlin comes with several current and former Youth National Team players while Atletas Kaunas has Simas Raupys on its announced roster. Next to the main competition, there is also a lower level U18 tournament which includes a multitude of club teams and the Belgian U16 National Team. Additionally, a U16 and a U14 tournament are also organized in the same location. Follow the tournament on the official website.
On Tuesday starts the first Nike International Junior Tournament Qualification event in Rome. The tournament features some highly interesting teams like the defending champion KK Zagreb (Dario Saric, Dominik Mavra, Filip Knezevic and the injured (?) Mario Hezonja), a strong Italian squad in Virtus Siena built around the big guys Amedeo Tessitori and Francesco Candussi while Fenerbahce Ülker comes with some major names like James Metecan Birsen or Mehmet Sanli. Other teams that compete for the first spot that qualifies for the main event in Istanbul are Virtus Roma, Dnipro, Gran Canaria 2014, Maccabi Tel Aviv and the hosts from Stella Azzurra. Follow the tournament on the official website.
Geneva has developed into one of the main places to cover the next generation of prospects as it hosts for the 7th time the International U16 Tournament. This year, the competitors come from two continents as the National Team of the Ivory Coast will play against Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, a selection from Belgrade and two additional selections from Switzerland. Germany comes to Geneva with a team featuring the top prospect Jan-Niklas Wimberg and other talented players like Constantin Ebert or Andreas Obst. Spain will most likely have their main prospect in Marc Bauza. Switzerland comes with a very short team, the tallest player is the 1m95 tall Axel Louissaint who plays for Elan Chalon in France. Follow the tournament on the official website.
In Spain, the fourth Ciudad de Barakaldo tournament features the U18 National Teams of Italy, Germany and Spain while a Basque selection completes the participants. The German team is lead by the highly talented Paul Zipser but also features a good number of the talented U16 National Team players from last summer (Ismet Akpinar, Daniel Mayr, David Taylor). Spain also has a very talented selection around the guard Josep Perez, wing Albert Homs and inside players Guillermo Hernangomez and eventually Ilimane Diop.
Another tournament to follow is the Haris Memorial in Manchester. This year, 8 teams will compete for the title but there is no clear favorite. The U18 National teams of Scotland and Luxembourg are present as well as the U16 National Team of England. Next to them, the U18 teams of Breitengüssbach (Brose Baskets), Manchester Magic, CB Cornella and Solent are there while the U16 team of Manchester Magic is probably the youngest squad in the event. Follow the tournament on the official website.
A growing event in the calendar is the Rinus de Jong Invitational in Den Bosch from the 27th- to 30th December. Four U18 and four U21 teams are present with a very international participation field. In the U21 category, we will see again the Canarias Basketball Academy but also a highly talented selection from Belgrade and the Prep School Wilbraham & Monson from the United States. The interesting fact about this school is that it features two Europeans in its roster with the German Maodo Lo and the Spanish Alex Ramon and that they beat the German team of Urspring Academy recently in the City of Palms Classic in Florida. The U18 tournament features Atletas Kaunas, VEF Riga, the Canarias Basketball Academy and the IBA Tel Aviv Basketball Academy. Follow the tournament on the official website.
In the new year, the first event to follow is the Baltic Sea Cup in Tallinn. This traditional event features tournaments on the U16 and U18 level for boys and girls. The participating teams are Sweden, Latvia, Finland and Estonia in each category. Like last year, you can follow the U18 tournament through a LIVE Stream for only 5 Euro on the following website. Follow the tournament on the official website.
Last but not least, you have the second NIJT Qualification event starting on the 4th January in Spain. The traditional l’Hospitalet Tournament features the Spanish powerhouses FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Joventut Badalona and Cajasol Sevilla that all will try to earn the trophy. They will have as opponents the teams of Lietuvos Rytas, KK Cedevita Zagreb, OKK Sarajevo and the hosts from CB Hospitalet. Follow the tournament on the official website.