FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann is pushing forward with the new international window, whether the EuroLeague like it or not.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, Baumann is looking forward to the new talent that will emerge once the FIBA World Cup qualifiers begin in November.
NBA as well as EuroLeague players will be unable to compete during the qualifiers due to their club commitments. Coaches are not exempt either, with the USA hiring Jeff Van Gundy as interim head coach to replace San Antonio Spurs playcaller Gregg Popovich, who is the full-time coach.
“It’s not a project against anyone,” Baumann said. “It’s an opportunity to discover new talents. We do not worry about being sometimes the bad guy because the movie is very good. We have an extraordinary product.”
According to Baumann, “basketball needed an electroshock”, because “everything stalled” after 2002 which was the year that the FIBA Suproleague ended and the emerging EuroLeague started dominating the European basketball scene.
FIBA believes that the national teams can help basketball grow more and the exception of NBA players in the qualification games was, in Baumann’s words a “joint strategy”, because “if the pace continued like this we were not going very far and the participation of the NBA players in the big tournaments was going to be smaller and smaller.”
Baumann is understandably thinking positive and now it’s time to move on. The EuroLeague are not going to budge and obviously the NBA will not shift. This is a great time for international basketball.
I was in Lille in the summer of 2015 when FIBA revealed the new system and it was met with a lot of criticism with many members of the media citing that the international game will lose its lustre with the absence of star talent.
Two years removed and while the idea is still met with skepticism, some are now on board with the move, including myself with new and emerging talent breaking through and making a case for the international team when the World Cup or the Olympics rolls around.
We might even see new nations stepping up and becoming stronger.