Van de Keere: "Basketball Champions League is most player-friendly competition"
MIES (Basketball Champions League) - Wim Van de Keere, the General Manager of Belgium's top flight Scooore! League and a member of the Basketball Champions League's Competition Commission took time to answers some questions about the innovative 50-50 joint partnership between FIBA and 10 top European leagues.
Wim Van de Keere (BEL) - General Manager of Scooore! League (BEL)
www.championsleague.basketball: What does the Basketball Champions League have to offer that European basketball is lacking at the moment?
Van de Keere: First of all, I think maybe not even on a sport basis but the partnership between FIBA, federations and leagues is something that has been inexistent for quite a few years so that's definitely something that was lacking. And the ambitition to organise a pan-European competition based on sporting principles true to the European sports model. So that to me is the most important innovation here.
www.championsleague.basketball: How do the Scooore! League and its clubs view the Basketball Champions League?
Van de Keere: From the start, we've been communicating with our clubs on the project and they've been with us. A number of them pre-registered in Paris at the launch when they were there. Obviously, based on the fact that FIBA does recognise the need for strong national competitions and the European competition to complement that is a huge advantage not only for our league but one of the reasons why the project will be successful.
www.championsleague.basketball: As a member of the Basketball Champions League's Competition Commission, can you talk about its calendar?
Van de Keere: Right now we've fixed the 2016-17 calendar of the Basketball Champions League and have a pretty good view of the 2017-18 calendar already. It's a matter of one more session to finalise that.
www.championsleague.basketball: Can you share your thoughts on the benefits of the Basketball Champions League with a less packed season (20-24 games) compared to the one for the current Eurocup (more than 30 games)?
Van de Keere: It is a no-brainer in my mind. We're maybe in a bit of an easier position having only 11 teams [in the Scooore! League] so we have some flexibility but obviously for most of the leagues with more teams it's essential to have that balance between the strong national league and the European club competition that complements it without placing too much of a burden on the natural evolution of the competition. So like I say it's a no-brainer and it's been one of the pillars since the start of the project that was discussed when we had the first discussions.
www.championsleague.basketball: Can you talk about how the Basketball Champions League is player-friendly? For example, there is a break in the competition at Christmas.
Van de Keere: It is the most player-friendly as possible in modern basketball. We [Scooore! League] have scheduled games during the Christmas break because we've done it over the past two years and we've seen the public turn-out is good. Some of our teams want to play at Christmas. That is another proof maybe of not only being player-friendly but also of the balance between the two calendars.
www.championsleague.basketball: How do you feel the Basketball Champions League helps strike the right balance so that players can feature in the competition as well as in their domestic league and also play for the national team?
Van de Keere: First of all it was an excellent idea to shift the brunt of the international team play to the windows [as part of FIBA's new competition system coming into effect in 2017] that have been fixed now. That is a lot more player-friendly. Our national team, those guys had to practice, say the past couple of years, from mid-July and were busy until September. So this now is not just player-friendly but also strategically, economically and commercially, it's a great decision. That is also a no-brainer that in a joint product and project the calendar would accommodate those national team windows.
www.championsleague.basketball: What do you see as the key values of any league?
Van de Keere: The sporting principle and the development of young players certainly form the basis of the European sports model. As far as development of players, there's always going to be transfers of players and going from smaller teams to bigger teams, whether it is in a franchising model or in a more European sports model. I just think that it allows for a true pan-European competition. The underlying conflict going on right now is just too bad but I think for basketball to continue developing at a pan-European level and then have young people wanting to play basketball, each country in Europe should have at least the ability as it has in football to play at the highest level be it through qualifying rounds or through direct qualification.