Photo: FIBA Basketball

With Italian head coach, Ettore Messina, criticizing FIBA for its new calendar, there is no doubt the international window will not change basketball for the better.

When the Federation decided to completely change the qualification process concerning the main competitions (World Cup, Olympics, Continental Cups), they knew they would have to deal with a series of problems, as the NBA and Euroleague had completely different plans.

Although it was certain the NBA wouldn’t allow its players to participate in the qualifiers, it was Euroleague’s refusal to change their calendar that made things more complicated.

The reason is that Euroleague games are scheduled to take place in November and February and, consequently, all European players that belong to the top clubs (CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid, Olympiacos, for instance) will not be able to take part in the FIBA qualifiers.

Therefore, the national teams will need to make so many changes to their rosters that will certainly struggle to remain competitive, having to choose lower-tier players to cover the gaps.

But, what exactly is the international window?

Starting from November 2017, almost all national teams will need to secure their place in the main tournaments through qualifying sessions (November, February, June, September), during which they will play against each other (divided in groups) on a home and away basis to advance to either the World Cup, the Olympics or the Continental Cups.

The main problem, as I said before, is that all teams will have to play without their top players and coaches, so they will depend on younger and less talented ones to get the job done, which will certainly put their qualification into serious jeopardy.

Moreover, these players will be replaced by the first-choice ones during the main competitions, which certainly is unfair and disrespectful, since the squad that will fight to qualify will be completely different to the one that will play in the main competition.

Furthermore, even though FIBA is expecting to raise the fans’ interest, thanks to the international window, I don’t think people will be interested in watching these games, with so many great players not available to play.

And that brings me to what Messina said during the press conference, following Italy’s match against Lithuania. The legendary coach strongly disagreed with the new FIBA schedule, stating it’s going to harm basketball and describing it as “humiliation”.

On the other hand, Patrick Baumann, the Federation’s Secretary General, responded to Messina’s comments in a rather inappropriate way that, in my opinion, doesn’t make sense.

What Baumann said was that the Italian coach should focus only on being a coach and not (on) speaking his mind, while he also needs to be on the same page with the Italian Federation’s president, Gianni Petrucci, since the latter is Messina’s boss.

And this is Baumann’s biggest mistake so far, as he shows no willingness to solve the problems FIBA is facing, but instead, he keeps on confronting Euroleague CEO, Jordi Bertomeu, and everybody that expresses their disbelief in the new calendar.

But, this will not turn things around, as Euroleague seems determined to not change its plans and calendar, unless FIBA is inclined to make crucial changes to the international window.

To sum up, although the new international window will make it more difficult for the national teams to advance to the main competitions, it will also decrease the fans’ interest, since the top European and NBA players will not take part in it.

Concurrently, more and more players and coaches will express their disagreement with the Federation’s decisions and what remains to be seen is how FIBA will handle this situation.

Judging by Baumann’s comments and arguments, though, I don’t think FIBA executives have a plan A or plan B to solve the problems and that’s why I believe the new international window is nothing more than a parody.