But the excitement increased another notch this past weekend with a number of stories big enough to warrant an in-depth breakdown. Instead, let's recap all that went down from Friday July 21 to Sunday July 23 in the world of youth hoops.
The FIBA U20 European Championship 2017, Division B's Quarter-Finals saw three nail-biters with Great Britain winning by one point, Croatia surviving Georgia by three points and hosts Romania beating Portugal by four points - keeping the hopes alive of jumping to the Division A.
In Mauritius, Mali and Egypt booked their tickets to the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018 by winning their Semi-Finals at the FIBA U16 Africa Championship 2017.
And history was made in Peru where Ecuador knocked off Colombia to finish third at the South American U17 Championship 2017 and secure their first-ever spot at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship.
Later in the day, Chile wrote their own history by beating Argentina to capture their first-ever South American U17 Championship title. The story was that much sweeter for a trio of Chileans as Ignacio Arroyo, Maxwell Lorca and Alvaro Pimental were all on the team that lost to Argentina in the game for fifth place at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship 2016 at home in Valdivia. That trio was actually playing two years younger than the 1998 generation which was the first group being hailed by Chilean leaders as a possible team to get to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup.
The win was sweeter for those players because it turned out that the winner of that fifth placed game last summer ended up going to the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017 after all as the FIBA suspension was Brazil was held up and Argentina was given their spot in Cairo.
Now Chile's next generation have their own chance to make history.
Saturday, July 22
The major action on Saturday started in Africa where Mali were aiming all tournament to take down Egypt, who had beaten the Malians 64-63 in the 2015 U16 final. But this time Oumar Ballo and Siriman Kanoute would make sure Mali would come out on top with 14 points and 22 rebounds for Ballo and 17 points, 9 assists and 5 steals for the MVP Kanoute in the final. Mali had done it, they grabbed their first-ever African men’s title.
What is really impressive about Mali's feat is that they did it so impressively without arguably their best player - N'Faly Dante, who had been in consideration to play for Mali at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017 and was one of the top players at the Jordan Brand Classic Global Showcase but he did not play in Mauritius.
The attention shifted to the FIBA U20 European Championships. Israel continued their magical run in Crete as they beat France comfortably to reach the Final. The last time Israel had been this far at the U20 level was in 2004 when the Israeli team was led by future national team leaders Yotam Halperin, Lior Eliyahu and Raviv Limonad. What is even more impressive is that the 1997 Israeli generation was actually playing in Division B at the FIBA U18 European Championship in 2015 - where they took second place to earn promotion. Hosts Greece man-handled Spain by 21 points to set up a meeting with Israel in the Final.
In the U20 Division B, Croatia and Romania won to set up the final - and also book their tickets to the Division A for next summer.
Sunday, July 23
All the attention was on the FIBA U20 European Championships. In the Division A game for 13th place, Davide Moretti showed why he is one of the best players in the 1998 generation as he collected 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Italy to a win over Slovenia to stave off relegation to Division B. Slovenia joined Latvia and Czech Republic in going down to Division B next summer.
Coming up to Division A were Romania, Croatia … and Great Britain, who brushed aside Russia by 26 points in the 3rd Place Game and will be top flight at U20 for the first time since 2015.
The Division B final saw Romania come back from a 10-point deficit in front of their home fans in Oradea with a 20-2 third quarter run to book an 80-67 victory for the title. Romania will make their debut at the U20 Division A level next summer. It will be the first time Romania play in a youth Division A since the FIBA U18 European Championship 2007.
And to finish off the weekend was Greece vs Israel in the U20 Division A Final. Israel came out strong and actually led 14-2 in the first quarter. But Greece raced back and claimed the lead 18-16 and never trailed the rest of the game.
The Greece story was also nice as the leaders of the 1997 generation - Vasileios Charlampopoulos, Dionysis Skoulidas and Vasileios Mouratos - had been through a number of near misses before finally winning a title at the FIBA U18 European Championship 2015. The group then went up to the FIBA U20 European Championship despite playing in Division B. They earned promotion last summer and now have grabbed Greece's first U20 trophy since 2009.
That 2009 class turned out to a legendary group of Greeks - who won at home on Rhodes - with Kostas Sloukas, Kostas Papanikolaou, Evangels Mantzaris, Nikos Pappas and Georgios Bogris.
It turned out to be a wild weekend and leaves you anxious for the rest of the summer.
By David Hein for FIBA.com