ULEB and FIBA Europe today announced the new format for European club competitions: Nothing really new here, though, as FIBA Europe had already published the main parts of this reform in March.
If you check the article we posted on BallinEurope.com in March, you’ll see that this news was announced by FIBA Europe alone four months ago. Anyway, this is how it works:
The Euroleague will change its format in the regular phase and play with four groups of six teams, with the top four finishers in every group qualifying for the Top 16. The quarterfinals will then be played in best-of-five series. This much was announced last week.
The competition formerly known as ULEB Cup will now be called Eurocup and will work under the following scheme.
The first qualification round will have 16 teams playing two-game home-and-away series, the winners of which advance to the second qualification round. Losing teams from these two-game series will play in the 2008-09 FIBA EuroChallenge.
The eight advancing teams will play against eight others directly selected for this second qualification round. The winners will advance to the Eurocup group phase, with losing teams also playing in the 2008-09 FIBA EuroChallenge.
Eight groups of four teams each will play in round-robin competition, with all teams playing a total of six games.
The four group winners and the four second-place teams in each group will advance to the Last 16.
At least this is what the official website says. I’m guessing this is an error and that the eight group winners and eight second-place finishers advance. These 16 teams will play then a Top 16 with four groups of four teams. Here the four group winners and four second-placed teams advance to a Final Eight that will be played under the same format as last season’s.
The winner of the Final will be the EuroCup champion and qualify for the 2009-10 Euroleague.
When it comes to the former FIBA Eurocup, which will now be called EuroChallenge, things get a bit more complex again.
Thirty-two teams have to go through two elimination rounds to gain access to the group phase. Eight of these 32 teams will qualify for this phase; eight teams get direct access to the so-called Qualification Round One; and the field will be completed by the 16 losing teams of the two EuroCup elimination rounds. Got it?
So there are 32 teams in Qualification Round One that will be divided into eight groups of four teams each. The group winners and second-placed teams qualify for Qualification Round Two where they will play once again in four groups of four, with winners and second-place finishers advancing to the quarterfinals to be played in best-of-three series.
The decision will then be made in a Final Four tournament modus.