Two cities whose hearts beat for basketball – Charleroi, Belgium and Vilnius, Lithuania – have been chosen to jump-start the new 2011-12 season as the hosts of Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds next fall.
The 6,000-seat Spiroudome in Charleroi and the 11-000-seat Siemens Arena in Vilnius both will host qualifying-round games between September 29 and October 2. In deciding on the two venues, criteria such as the hosts experience with organizing past sporting events, the response of local fans to similar events and the quality of the arena, as well as the facilities within the surrounding area, were taken into consideration.
The new format for the qualifying rounds consists of parallel eight-team single-elimination tournaments whose winners will advance directly to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season. The 14 teams that don’t win the four-day competitions in Charleroi and Vilnius will play in the 2011-12 Eurocup Regular Season.
Qualifying Round A, to be held in Siemens Arena in Vilnius, will have a host club in Lietuvos Rytas, which was runner-up in the Lithuanian League and reached the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 last season. Earlier in September, Siemens Arena will be the showcase of world basketball as 18 games of Eurobasket 2011 will be played there over six days. Along with Lietuvos Rytas, the seven other teams participating in Qualifying Round A are: Asvel Basket Lyon Villeurbanne, BCM Gravelines Dunkerque and Cholet Basket of France, Galatasaray of Turkey, KK Buducnost of Montenegro, KK Cibona Zagreb of Croatia and PAOK BC of Greece.
Qualifying Round B, to be held at the Spiroudome in Charleroi, also will have a host club in Belgacom Spirou, the current Belgian League champions, who made it to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague through qualifying last season. The Spiroudome was the successful host of four consecutive ULEB Cup finals between 2003 and 2007. Belgacom Spirou Basket will be joined in Qualifying Round B by the following seven clubs: Alba Berlin of Germany, Banvit BK of Turkey, BC Donetsk of Ukraine, BC Khimki Moscow Region of Russia, CEZ Basketball Nymburk of the Czech Republic, PGE Turow Zgorzelec of Poland and VEF Riga of Latvia.