By Eurohoops team / firstname.lastname@example.org
Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque region of Spain, will welcome the Final Four for the first time next spring for what promises to be the culmination of the city’s long and unique love affair with the sport of basketball.
A press conference celebrating Vitoria-Gasteiz’s upcoming role as host was held on Thursday at Fernando Buesa Arena, the venue of the 2019 Final Four, which has previously hosted the biggest events in Spanish basketball on multiple occasions.
The press conference, which featured the signing of the agreement for the organization for the 2019 Final Four, was attended by Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO; Josean Querejeta, President, Saski Baskonia; Ramiro González Vicente, General Deputy of Alava; Gorka Urtaran, Mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz; and Bingen Zupiria, Basque Government Counselor for Culture and Linguistics.
Jordi Bertomeu, President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball, said: “I believe that I don’t need to say how happy we are to be here. I have received a lot of ‘thank you’ messages over the last few days, and I would like to be fair and send them back. It is us, the EuroLeague, which has to be thankful, more than all the messages I got from the city, its institutions and Baskonia fans. Coming here is a very unique and very special opportunity for us.
When you host a Final Four, you have to consider two factors. Sometimes we have to take decisions which could be considered strategic, but which are taken to implement our project in markets where we need to be. Those decisions explain why we went to Paris, London, Berlin twice and that made it look like the event was getting further away from Vitoria. Other times, however, we have to take decisions to return what somebody gave you and in that sense, when we speak about Belgrade or Vitoria, we would be in that situation. Sometimes we have to give back to our communities, and this is the way to understand why we will be in Vitoria in 2019. I believe that Vitoria and the Basque Country have great basketball tradition and did a great job, and that deserved to be recognized.
We will work side by side with the institutions and the club in events that were organized in previous years, such as the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament, school-level competitions for boys and girls, as well as taking advantage of the event to do business meetings and bringing in all of our masters students. Above all, we use the Final Four to develop our CSR program, One Team, to have an impact in the city and be close to people in need. Using all this, we will work hard to build other alternative programs to add to these ones and which will complete a program of activities that will make the Final Four a collaborative event not just for the 15,000 inside Buesa Arena, but for the whole city of Vitoria, for Alava and the Basque Country, so that people can enjoy the Final Four as much as they can.”
Saski Baskonia president Josean Querejeta, said: “Even when the Final Four will be held in Vitoria-Gasteiz, it is a Basque Country project in which three institutions – Basque government, Vitoria Town Hall and the Council of Vitoria – will collaborate. It also acknowledges our history in European competitions and the success we had throughout the years. We are a historical club – fourth all-time in games played in the EuroLeague, second top scorer, six Final Fours and two finals – none won, yet! It is obvious that the Final Four is the biggest event Vitoria-Gasteiz has ever hosted. Vitoria, Alava and the Basque Country will be center of European basketball just not for the weekend, but for the entire season. Thousands of fans will come to Vitoria and we have to be skillful enough to make them discover what our city can offer.”