New VTB League format shaping up

According to Russian “SportExpress” the new VTB League format is steadily shaping up and will take its final form in the General Assembly of the League in early July. Read what the League’s General Director, Andrey Shirokov, told in the interview to the Russian newspaper-website.

According to Shirokov the main change will be that of increasing the teams from eight to twelve. The teams will be divided in the same way as last season, in two groups. The twelve teams will then play a round-robin system, each in their own group.

After that the top team of each group will automatically get a ticket to the competition’s Final Four while the second and the third teams of each group will face each other to gain the last tickets to the Final Four (Group A second team vs Group B third team and Group B second team vs Group A third team).

Although it is not known yet which Russian teams will participate it will probably be CSKA Moscow, Khimki, UNICS Kazan and Lokomotiv Kuban. From the rest countries now, Lithuania will be represented by Zalgiris Kaunas (Lietuvos Rytas has yet to decide whether they will apply to play next season or not), two Ukrainian clubs (probably Budivelnyk Kiev and Azovmash Mariupol), Estonia will be sending Kalev Tallinn and finally Latvia will go with VEF Riga.

As said by Shirokov himself, both Kalev and VEF have pledged to significantly raise their budgets to become more competitive in the upcoming league.

Poland have also expressed their interest in participating in the league, with two teams, but so far only Prokom meets the criteria and should be a lock for next league.

The remaining two available spots (of which one is reserved for Lietuvos Rytas should they wish to join) will be sought after by several clubs such as Minsk-2006 (Belarus), Tartu (Estonia), Siauliai (Lithuania), Ventspils and Barons (Latvia) and surprisingly enough Honka from Finland who could be chosen should they bring strong sponsorship deals on the table.

Source: SportExpress (Anton Solomin)