Currently, it looks like Jordi Bertomeu is traveling around Europe to discuss and promote the new Euroleague format. The recent addition of a third EL spot for France is one of the results but today we got the news that the partnership between Euroleague Basketball and China will become broader.
The Hong Kong based China Merchants Direct Investments and the Li Ka-shing Foundation have found an agreement with Euroleague Basketball to get a Euroleague Wildcard for the next season and start with a newly created team in the 2009/2010 Qualification phase. The Chinese companies, which have already taken a part in the newly created NBA China, are considering to put together a top-class Euroleague team right from the start as the talks are going into the direction of a 50 million USD budget.
The Li Ka Shing Foundation announced that it wants to nurture a culture of giving and to foster creativity, constructive engagement, and sustainability through supporting capacity empowerment focused projects. By the creation of a Euroleague team, they see a possibility to give young Chinese talent a possibility to compete with the best basketball teams in the world as the Chinese authorities prefer to see their players grow with the team values of European basketball over the individualistic approach of the NBA.
Former National team coach Jonas Kazlauskas is rumored to take over the team as head coach together with a staff built around the best talent developers in Europe and China. Several of the most promising Chinese prospects including Chen Jianhua and the recent Nike Hoop Summit invitee Zhang Dayu will be with the team and the addition of Yi Jianlian from the New Jersey Nets is heavily considered. The core of the team will however be built around Euroleague veterans and former CBA players from China.
The team will be based in Paris to get the support from the 450,000 Chinese natives living in the Ile-de-France region and the games will be played in the 15,000 seat Palais Omnisports Paris-Bercy. Li Ka Shing is very optimistic about his investment and a non-qualification for the regular season is not considered right now. However, the 11th richest man in the World assured that he has a different project in his pockets for the case that the new team would not reach the 24 qualified teams.