The youngsters during a pre-match warm-up at the Jr NBA Europe Finals -

Last week, the European Finals of the Jr. NBA landed in Spain, held from June 26 to 29 at the L'Alqueria del Basket venue in Valencia. A second edition with more than 200 U-15 participants from six countries of the old continent, which was dyed red and yellow by the overwhelming local dominance.

The Spanish teams were the winners of the tournament in both the men's and women's categories. Also noteworthy was the role of the Netherlands, who took home silver in the women's category, and the Italian team, who were on the podiums in both disciplines.

The Jr. NBA European Finals tournament, presented by Kellogg's, was not just a competition between nations. Various alternative activities (three-point contest and skills show) were held, as well as an All Star-style game where cooperation between young talents from different countries was fostered.

With an enviable talent pool, the Spanish representatives in their respective categories, Paula Reynal and Guillem Tazo, were named MVP of the competition. However, the skill and ingenuity of young projects from other nationalities who shone at the weekend were also counted on.

Some of the tournament's top prospects were Iva Tabak (Croatia) and Gabija Galvanauskaite (Lithuania), both in the best women's starting 5; and Lukas Siskauskas (Lithuania) or Matija Lukic (Netherlands) doing the same in the men's team, in addition to the first mentioned, winning the skills contest, and both of them youngsters having a presence in the All Star.

Young European basketball prospects listening to the instructions of one of the coaches of the JR NBA Europe Finals -
Young European basketball prospects listening to the instructions of one of the coaches of the JR NBA Europe Finals -

The nine-time All-Star and NBA legend, Dominique Wilkins, did not want to miss the event. Neither did WNBA champions Ticha Penicheiro, and Amaya Valdemoro -who is also an NBA ambassador in Europe-, both acting as coaches of the teams participating in the All-Star Game.

In addition, the event was attended by executives from the NBA and the Valencia Basket Club, which hosted the event, as well as local authorities from the city, including the vice president of basketball operations for the NBA, Europe and the Middle East, Neal Meyer, the general director of the Valencia Basket Club, Enric Carbonell, or the president of the Higher Sports Council, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes. 

Despite being only the second tournament in Europe, the Jr. NBA Finals was a huge success and is aiming even higher. This is in part due to the healthy atmosphere, teaching essential skills such as the key values of the game – teamwork, respect, determination, and community – as well as, of course, enhancing the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents.