By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After the experience of the first window and the fact that fewer EuroLeague players were called this time by their national teams – 87 compared to 130 in November – and even much fewer are expected to answer, it’s obvious that things in European basketball will not change in the near future.
The Basketball Champions League stands on its own, but it’s obvious – and even FIBA’s secretary general Patrick Baumann admitted it in his recent “BallinEurope” interview – that four continental competitions are an overkill. FIBA is self-aware that FIBA Europe Cup, the fourth tier continental competitions in Europe, is straggling to find its role. After all, FIBA has provided Basketball Champions League clubs with the ability of an opt-out close which was used by Elan Chalon and Movistar Estudiantes in order to avoid competing in the FIBA Europe Cup playoffs.
However, Basketball Champions League is solidifying itself and clubs like AEK, which recently won the Greek Cup by beating perennial EuroLeague contender Olympiacos, provide the competition with solid fan bases and teams that may interest even the casual fan.
And while this can be considered a breakthrough, it can also be considered a coincidence. The fact that most top teams around Europe prefer the EuroLeague and the Eurocup can’t be debated. And here lays the golden chance of the Basketball Champions League.
There are many teams around Europe that get impressive results, without having the financial background, the fan base and the tradition of established powerhouses. Lavrio and Promitheas Patron in Greece are currently tied in the third place of the league standings. Hapoel Holon, which already competed in the BCL’s regular season, beat Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Cup final.
In football, if those clubs managed via their sporting results to get the ticket for a European competition, they would be rewarded with major financial gains that would help them build upon their initial success and growth. This ecosystem simply does not exists in European basketball. In the recent past many such clubs while trying to cash out on their results by playing in a European competition, ended up having big financial troubles and gained nothing.
EuroLeague provides record-breaking revenues for the clubs – even if those revenues in many cases don’t mean that the clubs will at least break even – while EuroCup and Basketball Champions League are giving back practically the expenses that the clubs will make in order to be part of those competitions, even if the Final Four clubs of the Basketball Champions League get a more than respectable financial boost.
FIBA has the financial ability to change that and help small clubs with big results to become bigger organizations by giving them a bigger financial reward for competing in the Basketball Champions League. That can be a more than significant service to the sport around Europe and provide a real boost in the club competitions.