Euroleague closing on in NBA, CEO says
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu (L) praises the level of Turkish basketball.The Turkish Airlines Euroleague is closing the gap on the NBA in terms of quality every year, the competition’s president, Jordi Bertomeu, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.
“It’s true that the quality of the game, quality of the players and teams have been helping the Euroleague grow year after year. The fact that the NBA is signing more Euroleague players every year is a signal of the quality of our teams and players,” Bertomeu said.
“Every year we are closer and the game is becoming more global; the consequence is we have more competition. Of course, the NBA is without a doubt is the strongest league in the world, but Euroleague is not far behind the NBA.”
Bertomeu’s plan to further grow the league includes adding to the number of games in the Euroleague season to give it “more weight” in the calendar and scheduling these fixtures on Thursdays and Fridays – as opposed to Wednesdays and Thursdays – to avoid clashes with the Champions League, the top football competition in Europe.
Bertomeu’s statements came as the president was in Istanbul to sign a sponsorship deal between the top-level club competition in European basketball and the Hürriyet Daily News and daily Hürriyet.
The sponsorship comes in a year when Istanbul is set to host the final four of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
Bertomeu said the level of interest in the May 11 to 13 event had been overwhelming.
“We put the tickets on sale on Monday [Jan. 23] and it has been almost sold-out in the last three days. Nobody knows which teams will be in the final four but the tickets have been sold out. It is a good sign of the Euroleague’s affluent situation,” he said.
“It also shows that Turkish people love basketball. But of course they are not only sold in Turkey. Tickets have been sold in Greece, Spain, Italy, the United States and the U.K. – all of these countries have been buying tickets.”
The Euroleague president praised the level of cooperation the competition has had with the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) and Turkish Airlines.
“Altogether, we have great commitment to have a great event in Istanbul, as in Barcelona, Paris and Berlin,” he said. “I think we have a great arena and great atmosphere here, and I am sure it will be great.”
Given that the Turkish national basketball team has enjoyed good performances when playing on home court – as evidenced by runner-up finishes in the 2001 European Championships and the 2010 World Championships – a Turkish team may have a shot at making a memorable run in the final four should one make it, he said.
“[Turkish teams] are doing great. It is the first time that you have three Turkish teams in the Top 16. Fenerbahçe Ülker, Anadolu Efes and Galatasaray are doing very well,” he said. “It shows how competitive those teams are and it reflects how Turkish basketball has grown over the years dramatically.”
Turkey is likely the country where basketball has grown the fastest, Bartomeu said, adding that this was not only excellent for the Euroleague, but also for the Turkish league.
“For sure, they [Top 16 Turkish teams] have a chance,” Bertomeu said. “At least statistically, they have a three-out-of-16 chance.”