Clubs from the Italian LegaBasket will return to the independently owned EuroCup next season in a major change that could spell disaster to the FIBA Basketball Champions League as they no doubt aim to grow their competition after the inaugural campaign is completed.
With the exception of EA7 Milano, who were competing under a valid EuroLeague Basketball licence, Italian clubs were exclusively playing under the Basketball Champions League umbrella, which is run by the sport’s governing body FIBA.
But the LegaBasket president Egidio Bianchi has made a U-turn, saying that they will look forward and join with EuroLeague Basketball to compete in their EuroCup competition, considered as European basketball’s second tier.
“We want to look ahead,” Bianchi told Gazzetta Dello Sport today.
“I spoke with EuroLeague CEO Jordi Bertomeu. The Serie A is considered one of the major domestic championships, the three “defections” of our clubs this year have no effect.
“According to the current formula, we will have a spot in the EuroLeague [held by EA7 Milano] and two in EuroCup and we will try to get one of the three wildcards that the competition has.”
Sides from France were also pro-Basketball Champions League, but ASVEL president and San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker wants his club to compete in the sport’s top two tiers, away from the NBA.
The recently retired France international has gone on record to say that ASVEL will be in the EuroCup next season.
“We have a very good reletionship with the EuroLeague and I have already said to the French Federation and the league that we will play next season is the EuroCup,” Parker said to French radio station RMC.
“We have this vision. We want to be a EuroLeague team. I want to represent France, France should be represented in the two top European competitions.”
At this time, France, Greece, Serbia and Turkey remain the only other major basketball countries without a team in EuroCup.