The EuroLeague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament has developed into one of the world’s most prestigious stops for future stars in basketball. From 2003 onwards, more and more players have used the ANGT to showcase their talents at a young age and gain experience in international club competition. One player who gave fans a taste of his future success in the ANGT is Alberto Abalde, who led U18 Joventut Badalona to the continental crown in 2013 in London, England. It was Abalde’s only appearance at the ANGT Finals, and he made sure Joventut went all the way to the title, averaging 17.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in four games, showing everyone a glimpse of what was to come.
Abalde did not have a bad game at the ANGT Finals in London, and his solid performance kept Joventut competitive at all times. He started the tournament with 21 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in a convincing 65-77 win against U18 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. The biggest game in Joventut’s group was against U18 Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade, featuring Marko Guduric and Nikola Rebic. Joventut took off early in the fourth quarter to get a critical 77-67 win behind 16 points and 6 rebounds from Abalde. That result left Joventut still alive for a spot in the ANGT Championship Game, but it needed a victory over U18 Team China to get there. Abalde delivered again, collecting 16 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Joventut to a 62-75 triumph. Once in the title game, Joventut gave arch-rival FC Barcelona Regal no chance. Joventut thrashed Barcelona 82-59 and Abalde led the way with 18 points and 9 rebounds, earning tournament MVP honors.
Slowly but surely, Abalde became a full-time member of Joventut’s first roster, after several seasons of splitting time with the main team and its vinculated second-division side Prat. In 2016, Abalde signed a long-term deal with Valencia Basket which included playing the 2016-17 season for Joventut on loan. He averaged 10.1 points in 31 Spanish League games before joining Valencia. Abalde made his Turkish Airlines EuroLeague debut in the 2017-18 campaign, and a series of point guard injuries gave him an opportunity to play several times during the season. Abalde was far from intimidated, becoming a more versatile player and performing well in his maiden EuroLeague season. He averaged 7.6 points and nailed 28-of-54 three-pointers for a 51.9% clip, which ranked third in the competition. Abalde went on to help Valencia win the 2019 7DAYS EuroCup title in 2019 and returned to the EuroLeague last season. The guard was one of the leaders of Valencia’s second unit and averaged 7.8 points and 4.0 rebounds. He has also made the jump to Spain’s senior national team after winning several international medals at the youth ranks for Spain. At 24, Abalde is set to keep improving and has all it takes – athleticism, ballhandling, winning mentality, size and versatility – to be a really solid player for a long, long time. And starting in 2020-21, he will get the chance with Real Madrid, signing with the Spanish powerhouse for the next five seasons.