EuroBasket Blog: Right Idea, Wrong Time?

This year’s EuroBasket is shaping up to be the most exciting tournament in it’s history, and at this rate, it better be. As the majority of fans that are planning their trip to Lithuania are resorting to garage sales and selling items on eBay just to pay for those all important tickets.

Tickets were set to go on general sale March 1st, but there was a pre-sale a month before, giving fans an early opportunity to grab their tickets before they’re snapped up – which is fairness, is likely. But, some participating countries have had real problems getting tickets, due to overwhelming demand. The general sale has now been put back to March 17th with the reason from “visit Lithuania” being:”participating basketball federations failed to timely present their need for a ticket and did not provide specific numbers.”

It’s a bit difficult for the other nations to provide specific numbers for the tournament when for the first week-or-so when you could only be accepted if you lived in a certain country, some that are not even involved in this year’s EuroBasket, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Estonia. This now though has been recified, which is great news for the fans wanting to travel to Lithuania on the final day of August.

There are also problems with accommodation in most areas of Lithuania, where the group games will be held – Panevezys being the worst hit area, as fans, minus the Lithuania supporters, it seems are struggling for tickets, as the deals keep changing and prices are tilting backwards and forwards. The latest deal, which seems to be the one that’s “concrete set” is for the Lithuania game tickets to be sold seperately, and the other games (that don’t involve Lithuania) will be sold as a package. Panevezys is also the dreaded area where there is a severe shortage of hotels and bedsits, but to the credit of the organisers, they have planned a tent for fans who are going. From what I understand, they have all sold out.

While I think that extending the amount of teams for EuroBasket is a good idea, the timing for me is all wrong. Lithuania has earned the right to host EuroBasket, and FIBA’s decision to extend the amount of nations competing from 16 to 24 can only improve the sport further, as we head to the 2012 Olympics. But Lithuania is a small country that doesn’t pride itself heavily on tourism, eventhough they are welcome. The organisers are having to work overtime to get enough accommodation for the fans to stay for a week, before the tournament switches to Vilnius and Kaunas. To show how small Lithuania is, the entire country is 65,300 sq km (25,212 sq miles).

In Poland, two years ago, the country was big enough to easily deal with all the problems that Lithuania are facing, even if FIBA decided to extend the amount of teams two years earlier, the Polish organisers would of been able to deal with it. Of course, in 2013, it doesn’t get any easier as the tiny nation of Slovenia are hosting.  

Is it a good idea in the long run to extend EuroBasket to 24 nations? Yes.

Should FIBA of made this decision after Lithuania 2011 was over? Possibly, they would of had to of seen the plan Slovenia have in store for 2013 though.

Let’s hope that once the ticket sales and accommodation is sorted and the tournament can officially begin, the event can live up to what we all hope it to be: a huge success, one that the basketball fan will never forget.

Mind you, how can we not forget? It’s costing us all the earth already.

John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net

Follow John on Twitter @johnswisshobbs