After FIBA announced officially yesterday the new form of the European Cups and Tobias already talked about it, I wanted also to add my two cents about this new structure.
First of all, why is FIBA publishing this release alone, and not in a joint message from FIBA Europe and ULEB. I wanted to check today if either the Euroleague website or the ULEB Cup announces something on their website. But all I found there was this.
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I won’t talk for the I don’t know how many times about the poor ULEB Communication platforms but at least, I can not remember having seen any message about these changes yesterday evening. So was FIBA Europe just doing some front running as they state in their message: Further details will be made available by FIBA Europe as they are finalized. But in general, this still does not look like a huge collaboration between the two organizational bodies of European basketball.
So coming to what has been decided and revealed so far.
1. The elimination rounds will be administered by FIBA Europe and will be played under FIBA Europe eligibility rules.
So there will be Elimination rounds for the future 2nd and 3rd league. I will call them leagues now as they will play under the league scheme and the official names have not been revealed so far. What does mean however "will be played under FIBA Europe eligibility rules"? Does this mean that the FIBA foreigner rules will be applicable for these two elimination rounds, which means only 2 US born player? And after the two rounds, the leagues will start under ULEB rules and so unlimited US players? Very unclear in my opinion and not coherent at all.
2. The second and third competitions (featuring 32 teams each) will run on a parallel calendar during the season.
Parallel calendar sound very good, but which league will play when or will all the games be played on Tuesdays (like the ULEB Cup actually)? What is more important is the number of teams. So we will have 24 Euroleague teams, 32 2nd league teams and 32 3rd league teams. With the elimination rounds, the number of teams involved will still be a lot higher, so you can guess that you have something like 100-150 teams participating in the whole competition. (24+32+32=88 league teams plus qualifying rounds). I know that small countries like Iceland, Andorra or Luxembourg have voting rights in the FIBA Europe bodies. And that some of the smaller countries complained about the impossibility to participate in European Cups because of the League schedules. So now, with the re-apparition of qualifying rounds, we will probably see back teams like the first ever European competition participant Etzella Ettelbrück from Luxembourg or the Maltese powerhouse Bupa Luxol.
3. There will be promotion from the third competition to the second competition beginning in the 2009-2010 season.
This is probably the most interesting addition and the only thing that shows the integration of the three competitions. So actually it is possible to move up from the 2nd league to the Euroleague but also from the 3rd league to the 2nd league. So in theory, a team that actually has never had the chance to qualify either for the ULEB Cup or the Euroleague can move up in two years from the third league to the Euroleague. However, when it has once reached the Euroleague, and does not win it, it has to start from the bottom again. Now additionally a sportive criteria going down would be interesting like reducing the number of participating teams of a country in the Euroleague by one for the worst team.
4. The name of Euroleague will remain while the other two competitions will be renamed in the near future.
Nobody cares, but will we see back the Radivoj Korac and Lilianne Ronchetti cups? My guesses for the future 2nd and 3rd league will however be some kind of weird combination/compromise between ULEB and FIBA Europe. So why not a ULEB Borislav Stankovic memorial Cup or the FIBA Europe Eurocup Jordi Bertomeu League? We will see…