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Austrian Basketball - Black Urum - 06-08-2009

Nobody in the city of Wels will easily forget the date of June 7, 2009 as this day will forver mark the first-ever Admiral Basketball Bundesliga title for Welser Basketball Club ( WBC ).

The team captured the title after defeating Allianz Swans Gmunden in game 4 of gthe Finals ( 82-80 ) playing before its home crowd. The success for WBC could be pretty unexpected a few months ago, as the team finished the first phase of the League only fifth, with a 14-8 record, which improved in the second phase, which saw them ending third after a 20-12.

But the best was yet to come, as WBC fought to eliminate Oberwart Gunners in quarter finals in five games, and then, they had to overcome the fact of playing against home court advantage to defeat Raiffeisen Fürstenfeld in 4 games, before facing Allianz in the Finals, which were over today.

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Austrian Basketball - Black Urum - 06-08-2009

Interview with Norbert Steger, ÖBL President

Quote:The Austrian Basketball League, now Admiral Basketball League - ABL, was founded in 1998. Just before the start of the 2008-09 Finals between Allianz Swans Gmunden and WBC Kraftwer Wels, takes time to know more on the top level basketball in Austria talking with League President, Norbert Steger.

Mr. Steger, tell us please how your League is structured and managed

The ABL is a non profit organisation and carries out basketball competitions of the highest Austrian leagues of men and women and also the Austrian Chevrolet Cup. We have a presidency that consists of the president, two vice-presidents and consultants. The members are elected by the general assembly for a period of two years and perform their post honorarily. Most of the administration work is done by our office in Vienna, with our League Secretary as manager. Marketing and media matters are outsourced to a marketing agency.

Regarding the competition: how it develops ?

There are 12 teams in the ABL, playing round robin in the first phase of the championship. In the second phase the league is divided into two groups of six teams (places 1 to 6 group H1, 7 to 12 group H2). The six teams of H1 and the best two teams of H2 play the play-offs with quarterfinals, semifinals and finals in a best-of-5 series. At the moment the second league in Austria is not strong enough to bring up teams to the ABL, so we do not have relegation. This will be changed during the next years.

On the players: which are your regulations on eligibility ? )

This year we had a maximum of eight foreign players allowed in the roster of 16 players, next season this will be reduced to seven foreign players. The reduction will be continued until 2012. There is no distinction if the foreign players are European or from other countries. All foreign players at the roster are allowed to play.

What is the TV picture in Austria related to basketball ?.

We are very pleased to have a contract with Premiere Austria on pay TV. Premiere has the exclusive rights and broadcast up to 40 games per season live and also a delayed repeat of the game. The problem in Austria is to get more time on free TV, especially on the national television ORF. We are working on that case but it is very difficult to handle. Please mention and comment about sponsorship

For the first time the ABL was able to sell the naming right of the league. Admiral is a very strong betting company in Austria and also in other countries, and we are proud of such a strong partner. Other partners are Chevrolet for the Austrian Cup and Spalding as the official game ball. New sponsors are appreciated !

What are you satisfied the most in your League ?

All teams are getting stronger each year and we have a well-balanced championship with 6 or 7 teams fighting for the title.

Arenas: what about fans attendance? are you satisfied with the attendance?,

The arenas are one of the big problems in Austria. Most are too small and do not reach the international standards. This is a big handicap for a faster development of the league. We are satisfied with the attendance which grows every year but we are too limited for a high increase because of the capacity of the arenas.

Media: how do they treat the League in your country ?. What has been the evolution of media coverage in these last years ?

Newspapers at the local level are good, but we miss the coverage all over Austria. Football and skiing are the kings in Austria, and all the other sports are getting too less attention.

What about the relationship with your national Federation ?

We have a contract with the Federation signed nine years ago. The relationship with them is very good, we have a very good contact to the President of the Federation and want to bring up basketball together on a higher level.

Which are your plans of future for the League ?

The teams and also the league must have bigger budgets to stay in touch with the leagues from other countries. We must make great efforts to get some more sponsors which is a very hard work at the moment.

How do you imagine your League in 10 years ?

We want to close the gap between our league and other countries, get a better presentation and more teams participating at the international competitions and get bigger arenas for all of our clubs.