17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
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BCL Officials Workshop builds on FIBA Basketball World Cup lessons

ANTALYA (Turkiye) - As the Basketball Champions League is entering its 8th season, it has by now established certain processes aiming at the continuous development of the level of the competition. One of the most important is certainly the annual BCL Officials Workshop, that takes place at the start of each season.

The focus on continuous development was even more pronounced in the 2023 edition of the workshop, hot on the heels of the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The 57 referees that will officiate the games of the 8th BCL season gathered in Antalya, on the occasion of the BCL Qualifying Round Tournaments that took place in the Turkish city.

The eight BCL referee instructors and FIBA Europe Referee Manager Davorin Nakic put the referees through their paces through a variety of workshop activities during the week of action in the Qualification Rounds.

Combining the workshop with actual game action was extremely valuable even to seasoned referees such as Gatis Salins, who officiated the World Cup Final between Germany and Serbia on September 10.

"The FIBA World Cup was definitely a good experience, I gained more confidence and I will try to transfer that in the BCL season because a new season starts from zero and our actions and performances are judged only by the next game," the Latvian referee said.

Gatis Salins officiated the Final of FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 

"We don't look back, we look forward and we try to better in the next game.

"The workshop is a good opportunity to meet all the colleagues, to get together and learn new things, and refresh some things we know and need to apply in the new season.

"Combining it with the qualifying tournaments is a good opportunity to be well prepared."

Manuel Mazzoni, who was also on duty at the FIBA World Cup, agreed: "Being in the World Cup and representing the BCL there is a big honor. it's a different experience because it's a tournament of three weeks, so you have to put all your effort in a short period. The BCL season is like seven months, it's like a long race. So it's like comparing the 100-meter dash to a marathon race. you have to be consistent during the season, game by game. It's challenging in a different way," the Italian referee said.

"I think [holding the workshop alongside the Qualification Rounds] is perfect because you can apply it practically. You hear what the instructors tell you in the morning and then you go out on the court in the afternoon and you are able to apply it and you have immediate feedback on how you applied it.

"Also, all the colleagues are watching from the tribune so it's like you have the thoughts of... 54 people instead of just the opinions of the instructors."

Mazzoni is perhaps even more used than most referees to listen to all kinds of opinion, because he has strived to offer a window into the referees' work and inform the opinion of the fans, through initiatives such as being mic'd up during BCL games.

"I think it's nice [when the fans can hear what the referee says] to understand our job. From the outside, except the coaches and the players, nobody can really understand what we do. They are just watching us and they think we just call or not call a situation in the game," Mazzoni said.

"But [being mic'd up] was a good chance for everybody to understand that we are in the game with our voice, with our court presence, with our body language."

The two experienced referees also coincided when asked what kind of advice they would offer to the three new referees that join the BCL roster this season.

"The best advice it simple, to work hard and apply the fundamentals. Nothing will happen very fast, you need to grow step by step. The process is not a sprint, is a marathon, but you have to keep working," said Salins.

"The biggest takeaway is that nothing is given, you need to earn your spot every day. You need to work hard every day, and not lose your focus even for a minute."

Mazzoni agreed: "Just to listen to the instructors, take the advice of the crew chief and continue doing what they did to get here," he said.

"If they made it to the BCL it means they did a really good job and they have to keep it up."