Endesa Minicup takes the ‘Las Canteras’ beach

Published on Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Just like every year - and this is the tournament's twelfth - the spectacular Copa del Rey basketball tournament is returning accompanied by the Endesa Mini-Cup. The junior-league counterpart of the major league teams come to compete in what the Spanish call the "Knockout Tournament" is no longer just a project but a stark reality. Since its inception at the Seville Cup in 2004, the event has continued to grow in humongous leaps from year to year, and at this point has taken on a life of its own to become one of the main attractions for all the spectators drawn to Gran Canaria's great event.

And since it is such an important happening, Gran Canaria has prepared an event very much in keeping with the island. The Endesa Mini-Cup will be held from 20 - 22 February, on the Las Canteras Beach.

If the weather permits, the tournament will be contested on two open-air parquet courts in the heart of the island capital's most emblematic beach, raising the stakes for an event that was already a huge success in Málaga 2014. Back then, the Copa Fan Zone venue was only host to some of the matches and was complemented by a second court in a traditional indoor arena. At Gran Canaria 2015, the sports hall at the Centro Insular de Deportes stands at the ready in case of adverse weather.

This gorgeous scene will set the the stage for the youngest fans to enjoy an unforgettable event. Players who, beyond any doubt, will shine brightly in a few years like Ricky Rubio, who, after competing in this tournament, was the first of 45 players to make it to their debut at the Endesa League.

The junior-league  teams of Unicaja, Real Madrid, FIATC Joventut, FC Barcelona, Basket Bilbao, Valencia Basket Club, Gran Canaria Herbalife and CAI Zaragoza will be able to enjoy this sensational event. Eight teams looking to take the baton from Real Madrid, last year's champions, and inscribe their name in the list of winners on which the distinction of all-time champions is a tie between the olive-shirted Joventut de Badalona and the blue and purple stripes of F.C. Barcelona with four titles each, against two for Real Madrid (the last two).

Be that as it may, the Endesa Mini-Cup is a time to enjoy three days of pure basketball, where we see that the spectacular game with the hoops is also in the small hands of a bunch of kids who may still be short in stature but who dream like giants. The dream of one day playing at the Copa del Rey of the big boys.

Endesa backs the Mini-Cup 

Endesa, Chief Sponsor of the Endesa League, continues in its firm commitment to the sport of basketball through its sponsorship of this tournament, which, for the first time, has been given a surname and is now goes by the name of the Endesa Mini-Cup.

With Endesa's backing, the Mini-Cup has a new logo and a new mascot to present. An image that is becoming more and more attractive image to turn the tournament into a key event in minor-league basketball. An carefully crafted image with surprises in store. This bird will be highly prominent at the Copa del Rey.

Pablo Casado, Director General of Endesa, Canary Islands, had this to say about the event:"Endesa welcomes all the basketball lovers who will be gathering together for four days in Las Palmas of Gran Canaria. Our company, which maintains very close ties to the Endesa League and the Spanish National Basketball Team, as we saw during the last World Cup enjoys a great tradition supporting minor-league  basketball on the Canary Islands, which is why we are especially thrilled to host an event like the Mini-Cup in this setting here on the Beach of Las Canteras. As part of our total commitment to basketball, and also in the certainty that we are going to enjoy are going to enjoy some top-level play from the the teams competing at the Mini-Cup, we all join together, players and Endesa, united by the values we share: effort, teamwork, strategy, fair play, these are the values that guide us to get better every day and offer the world the very best of ourselves”.

With Endesa's backing, the Mini-Cup has a new logo and a new mascot to present. An image that is becoming more and more attractive image to turn the tournament into a key event in minor-league basketball. An carefully crafted image with surprises in store. This bird will be highly prominent at the Copa del Rey.

A mascot with a meaning

Why a bird? “We discovered how much the way players move on the court has in common with the way birds move. They have speed, agility, fast reactions, vision... That, and the fact that during a match players move like birds of prey trying to catch the ball. They look like they' are 'flying' every time they score”, explains the company. “and if speed, agility and vision were our inspiration when we were looking for our mascot, it was the host city of the championship, Canarias, that gave us the name: Gran Canario" [a pun on 'Great Canary']”.

A logo with a ‘trick’

Thus was born a new mascot, complemented by a logo that holds a secret: "If you looking at it from top to bottom you can clearly see the head, body and tail feather of a bird - The Great Canary -  But if you look at it from bottom to top, you discover the trajectory of a ball during a pass”.

TV broadcasts

Televisión Canaria will be broadcasting the match between Gran Canaria and Real Madrid on the second day of the tournament live (Saturday at 10:30). The station will also be broadcasting all the matches held on Court 1 live, as well as the final. All the matches can also be watched at ACB.COM, the offical website of the Endesa League.

Seminar by Óscar Quintana ahead of the final

Óscar Quintana will be giving a lecture at the seminar organized by the Association of Spanish Basketball Coaches (AEEB) and the ACB League on the occasion of the Copa del Rey. The former coach and presently a commentator on Endesa League matches for the public television broadcasting company Televisión Española has chosen to speak on the subject of "Skills with thew ball and their development".

Ricky Rubio - a dream come true

His is the mirror in which all them kids look at themselves. Ricky Rubio was the Endesa Mini-Cup's first MVP, and now from Minnesota, where is an NBA player, he want to wish all the players the best of luck and share some of his experiences: "Enjoy! It's a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

"Who would have imagined that a year and a half later I would be debuting in the ACB? Not me, that's for sure", says the current point guard of the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA . Ricky Rubio was the Mini-Cup's first MVP. He opened the first of these now firmly established tournaments in style. That was in Seville, in 2004, and now he is one of the most prestigious point guards in the NBA.

Today many of these kids have the same dream as their idol. They want to play at the Endesa Mini-Cup and one day hit the big time and make their debut at the Endesa League. Anything is possible. "The 43 players who played at the Mini-Cup and went on to play at the Endesa League is a very large number and says something about the quality of the tournamentsays the young man from the town of El Masnou, Spain. The data confirms that dreams can come true.

"Spanish junior league players develop excellent skills, and those teams give them a real opportunity when they're still little. There are a lot of players and hopefully there will be many more", says the Catalan. But first things first: "What would you tell the kids competing at the Mini-Cup this season? Well, one thing for sure: They should enjoy it as much as I did. That it's a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life ", reminisces Rubio.

The La Copa del Rey is one of the most important events worldwide in for the sport of basketball and the event held in parallel to it, the Endesa Mini-Cup, is becoming more and more important every year. That's why they have to enjoy these days. "They should have a good time and take advantage of every moment to learn. And they should win! They should enjoy, not just the Mini-Cup but the Copa del Reyas well, and the whole atmosphere there. It's a whole week or a whole weekend of spectacular basketball, and for a basketball lover like me, it's something that sticks with you", Ricky points out.

The point guard's head is full of memories from that fateful 2004. "I have great memories from the Mini-Cup in Seville, it was the first major tournament I played at with my club", he explains. The fromer FIATC Joventut and FC Barcelona player seized the opportunity to go see the big players. "I remember being in the stands in Seville and going to see everything, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and that thwey mader it to the final, which they lost against Saski. You really left the game thinking 'If only one day I could be there!'", he says looking back with a smile on his face.

Ricky's performance was supernatural. Everyone there fell in love with the precocious point guard, who won the title and earned a rating of 48 in 21 minutes in one match, thanks to 30 points, 8 rebounds, 8 recoveries and receiving 15 fouls. "The numbers were very good in that match. At the start of the first match we were all very  gung-ho. I remember the periods were a little bit shorter than normal, and we were really going for it!", he remembers. Although the Minnesota player does admit that he can't remember all the numbers.

"It was the first time we played and we were all very happy because we were a part of the Copa del Rey", comments Rubio, who, although having dreamt of making it to the professinal level, says "I didn't think I'd be playing with the big players so soon. It was a dream come true!".