Basketball is proud to announce that as part of the eighth edition of the Nike International Junior Tournament, to be held in Paris next spring, a total of four classification tournaments will take place across Europe – in Rome, L'Hospitalet, Belgrade and London – as Europe's elite youngsters fight for the right to play on the biggest stage of all, the Final Four.
Following the successful introduction of two classification tournaments in 2008 (L'Hospitalet and Belgrade), and a third in 2009 (Rome), the Euroleague has decided to add one more this season, in London. With these changes, Europe's best 18-and-under players will be present in Paris, and the team winning that tournament in May will be crowned the undisputed European Junior Club Champion.
“When we first held a junior tournament six years ago on the occasion of the 2003 Final Four in Barcelona, our aim was to create something that has never before existed – a European Junior Club Championship," said Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball CEO. "Thanks to the wonderful support we receive in our excellent relationship with Nike and our collaboration with A.S. Stella Azzurra, CB L'Hospitalet, FMP and Barking Abbey School, we now see this goal come to fruition."
Each of the four cities will see between eight and 12 teams competing over three days for the possibility of returning home as winners and thus booking their place in the 2010 Nike International Junior Tournament during the 2010 Euroleague Final Four in Paris. In 2009, La Caja de Canarias Gran Canaria (Spain), Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania) and FMP (Serbia) won their respective classification tournaments, with FMP going on to win the NIJT in Berlin.
The first classification tournament will be the Torneo Città Di Roma, organised by A.S. Stella Azzurra in Rome, Italy and running from December 27 to 29, 2009. This will be swiftly followed by the Torneig de Básquet Júnior "Ciutat de L'Hospitalet", organized by CB L'Hospitalet in L'Hopsitalet, Spain and running from January 4 to 6, 2010. The third classification tournament will be the Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Classification Tournament Belgrade-JCT, organised by FMP in Belgrade, Serbia and running from February 12 to 14, 2010. Last but not least, the newest tournament, the Barking Abbey Academy Euroleague Basketball Junior Classification Tournament, organized by Barking Abbey School in London, United Kingdom, will run February 19 to 21, 2010. The climax of the year will take place in parallel with the Final Four, when the Nike International Junior Tournament takes place in Paris from May 6 to 9, 2010.
A place where future stars are born, the NIJT already boasts a list of accomplished alumni that is sure to grow as others begin their paths to stardom this season. Many players who began their careers at one of the previous NIJT tournaments can now be found on Euroleague and Eurocup teams, including Jonas Maciulis (Armani Jeans Milano), Milos Teodosic (Olympiacos Piraeus), Luigi Datome (Virtus Roma), Mirza Begic, Povilas Butkevicius, Mantas Kalnietis and Zygimantas Janavicius (Zalgiris Kaunas).
Fans can follow all of the action at Euroleague.net, where articles, statistics, game reports, quotes, photos and other links will be available during each and every tournament. The action tips off in Rome on Sunday, December 27, with 12 teams beginning their own Road to Paris. Four months later, on May 9, 2010, a new champion will be crowned at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy merely hours before the two best pro teams in Europe take the same court for the final game in the Euroleague Final Four.
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