The U19 World Cup next summer is the great goal of this generation. To do this they have to get one of the first five places. Without a clear star, the Men’s U18 need the strength of the group to secure their World Cup spot.
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL BALANCE
It is true that the great reference of this generation of 2004 is Juan Nuñez, although he has always competed with older colleagues. Baba Miller is also absent due to injury, so the reference players are expanded. Izan Almansa comes as World Cup MVP, but he is the youngest of the team. Jordi Rodríguez is the scorer of the generation (he averaged 14.6 points in the Challenger). Eddy Pinedo the most experienced player. Niko Cebrian the brain. And Ab Sediq Garuba the defensive specialist. Although the strength has to reside in the group and in the contribution of the 12 players.
THE CHALLENGER 2021 AS AN EXPERIENCE
This generation of 2004 was the first to lose a major championship due to the pandemic: the European U16. That is why last summer’s U18 Challenger featured many players from the 2004 generation, to give them international experience. There were Niko Cebrián, José Roberto Tachyn, Jordi Rodríguez, Ab Sediq Garuba, Luis García and Eddy Pinedo, the backbone of Dani Miret’s team. Izan Almansa arrives with the experience of the U17 World Cup in Andalusia. And Eddy Pinedo already has in his record the gold of the European U16M of 2019, being a first-year cadet.
THE RIVALS OF THE EUROPEAN
Spain is located in Group B, one of the most powerful and balanced. Turkey, hosts, is one of the contenders for everything. Poland has the backbone of the team that reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Malaga. And Germany has one of the stars of the tournament, Martin Kalu, who averaged 27 points per game in the Challenger and is already followed by NBA scouts. In the round of 16, Spain will face Group A, formed by France (another of the favourites), Israel, Macedonia and Great Britain. And on the other side of the draw, powerful teams like Lithuania and Serbia will have to be avoided in the quarterfinals.
FOUR TIMES ON TOP OF THE PODIUM
The European U18 is the tournament with the longest history (it was born in the 60s) and one of the only ones in which the USSR and Yugoslavia still dominate the list of winners. Spain has obtained 12 medals, four of them gold, with four of the best generations of the 21st century. The first, that of 98 with the gold juniors (Gasol, Navarro, Felipe…). The second, with the generation of 2004 in Zaragoza (Sergio Rodríguez, Sergio Llull, Carlos Suárez…). The third in 2011 with Alex Abrines, Willy Hernangómez or Jaime Fernández. And the last one in 2019 with Santi Aldama, Usman Garuba or Jaime Pradilla.
Saturday 30 | Spain – Germany (5:15 p.m.)
Sunday 31 | Spain – Turkey (7:30 p.m.)
Monday 1 | Spain – Poland (7:30 p.m.)
Wednesday 3 | eighths
Thursday 4 | Rooms
Saturday 6 | semis
Sunday 7 | Final