In pure competition terms, it has been an unprecedented year for European basketball. We have seen the completion of 4 club competitions in April and May this year, 10 European youth championships in the summer and qualification games for the 2005 European Championships for Men and Women in September.
Off the court we have had the usual busy agenda of Commission and Board meetings.
Additionally, in November we negotiated an agreement with ULEB, which will hopefully secure a bright future for European club competitions.
FIBA Europe, FIBA and ULEB met for the first time in June this year for a series of talks to try to find an agreement for the upcoming seas on. We are very happy to report that in November, we achieved our goal and the 4-year dispute over European club competitions was brought to an end.
|FIBA Europe, FIBA and ULEB|
The agreement will see ULEB continue to organise 2 European club competitions for a maximum number of 48 clubs. These competitions will be organised under the auspices of FIBA Europe.
The conclusion of this agreement has been one of our primary targets since FIBA Europe’s creation in 2002 as an independent FIBA Zone. We are very confident that, with FIBA Europe and ULEB working together, the sky is the limit for our European club competitions.
As well as the extraordinary meetings between FIBA Europe and ULEB, each of the FIBA Europe Commissions have met on at least 2 occasions this year.
The Board of FIBA Europe had its regular appointment of 3 meetings in March and November as well as before the General Assembly met in May, hosted by the Czech Basketball Federation in Prague.
FIBA Europe’s 4 club competitions all reached their conclusions in April and May.
FIBA Europe League
The FIBA Europe League Final Four was held in the ultra modern, 8,000 seat arena in Kazan, Russia. Home side Kazan were the competition winners. They defeated Greek side Maroussi Athens in the Final, while Ural Great Perm (RUS) and Hapoel Tel Aviv (ISR) were the other teams to make the Final Four.
In July 2004 the draw for this season’s FIBA Europe League was held in Munich, as well as the General Assembly of the participating clubs. The clubs voted for their representatives on the FIBA Europe League Council and Marketing Commissions.
|2004 FIBA Europe League Champions UNICS Kazan|
So far we are one quarter of the way through the new season and all evidence points to a competition that is just as exciting as last year.
The 2004 EuroLEague Women Final Four was a truly memorable affair thanks to host club Pecs, who put on a great event in their basketball-crazy city.
Pecs’ 4,000 seat arena could have been filled several times and 2 giant screens were erected next to the arena and in the city centre so that an additional 5,000 people could watch the games.
French side Valenciennes were the victors in Pecs, justifying their status as the top club side in women’s basketball in the past 4 years. They defeated Polish opponents Lotos VBW Gdynia in the final, while Pecs and Gambrinus Brno (CZE) were the other finalists.
In June 2004 it was recommended that the competition be increased from 16 to 21 participants, in recognition of the rising standards in women’s basketball across Europe. This was ratified by the FIBA Europe Executive Commission and in July the draw was held, along with the General Assembly of the clubs.
So far the experiment has proved to be a success and we are looking forward to the remainder of the season.
FIBA Europe Cups Men and Women
Mitteldeutscher BC (GER) and Baltiskaya Zwezda (RUS) were the winners of the FIBA Europe Cups for Men and Women respectively.
The draw for the 2005 European Championship Men and Women qualification games was held in January at the town hall in Belgrade. The entire draw was broadcast with live video on fibaeurope.com.
Qualification games were completed in September and a separate draw for each Final Round will be held in January. The men’s draw will take place in Belgrade on 15th January 2005 and the women’s in Istanbul on 28th January 2005.
We continue to work closely with the respective LOCs for the European Championships. Site visits have been made to Serbia & Montenegro and Turkey and further visits and meetings will take place next year.
We have begun to turn some attention to the next European Championships for Men and Women and the Bid Commission visited each of the 4 candidates to host the events in October. At its meeting in Tallinn, the Board of FIBA Europe assigned the Championships to the following countries: Eurobasket 2007, Spain; European Championship for Women 2007, Italy; Eurobasket 2009, Poland and Eurobasket 2011, Lithuania.
Top level organisation of all events remains a goal that we are striving to achieve. This year, we produced detailed bid manuals for the Club Competition Final Fours, European Championships for Men, Women and all Youth events. Each manual offers the organising committee an in-depth explanation of how to organise an event to the highest standards.
Additionally, at least one member of staff has visited the venues for all of our competitions and meetings in 2004 to liaise with the local organiser and ensure all standards are being met.
As well as the bid manuals, the FIBA Europe Bye-Laws and Regulations have all been revised and condensed into one volume which should ensure increased ease of use.
For the first time in the history of FIBA Europe, European Championships were held for each of our youth categories (U16, U18 and U20) in one summer.
The result was a grand total of 126 teams, playing 12 competitions in 11 countries across Europe.
|Youth basketball was the focus of summer 2004|
Before the competitions started, draws were held for the U18 Men and Women in Zaragoza, Spain. The draw for the U20s and U16s was held at the headquarters of the French Basketball Federation in Paris. Next year, we will continue this idea and hold the draw for each competition at the same venue.
The U16 category was the first to come fully under the new system of competition introduced by the Board of FIBA Europe in March 2003. As a result 16 teams took part in Division A of the competition (boys and girls), while 19 further teams played in Division B for Boys, and 17 teams in Division B for Girls.
As of 2005, the U18 and U20 categories will also be played according to the new system and a record number of national teams (176) have already registered for all the youth competitions.
A full round-up of all of the youth competitions can be found on fibaeurope.com. The most successful country of the summer was Russia, who managed to win 4 medals (gold in the U20 and U18 Women, silver at the U16 Boys and bronze at the U16 girls). Spain and France both weighed in with 3 medals while Turkey claimed 2.
For the first time ever, every single one of the 2,400 players participating in European Youth Championships this year were insured by FIBA Europe. The insurance policy also covered all team staff at events, coaches, trainers, doctors and referees.
We were additionally able to include all players and staff at the U22 European Wheelchair Championships and in 2005 all players participating in the youth championships, Promotion Cups and Wheelchair Basketball youth competitions will be be covered by the FIBA Europe insurance.
In 2005, FIBA Europe will publish and distribute a Youth Yearbook, containing information on all the upcoming events as well as round-ups and results from the Championships played in 2004.
The highlight for the seniors this summer was, of course, the Olympic Basketball Tournament. By the time the dust had settled from the 18 days of basketball in Athens, most pundits were calling it the best ever.
From a European perspective the Games were a success before even starting and our continent was the best-represented of all the FIBA zones with a total of 5 teams in the men’s tournament and 4 in the women.
|2004 Olympic silver medallists Italy|
In the men’s tournament, Italy produced a wonderful performance to win the silver medal, the second in the country’s history following the 1980 Games. Lithuania were trying to maintain their record of 3 medals since 1992, but fell just short of that goal, finishing in fourth place.
Spain’s Pau Gasol and Italy’s Giacomo Galanda were both selected to the Olympic All-Star Team.
In the women’s tournament, Russia followed up their success at the 2003 European Championship for Women with a bronze medal. Czech Republic finished in 5th place, Spain 6th and Greece exceeded all expectations to secure 7th spot.
The scope and depth of information available on Fibaeurope.com was greatly increased in 2004. There was full and comprehensive coverage of all club and national team competitions.
The depth of the content for the youth competitions was particularly high. For the first time ever we offered full video broadcasts from events, namely the European Championships for U18 Men. 6 games were available for viewing and the final was broadcast live.
SmartStats For Basketball
Live online statistics have also been a goal for the web site and we were able to launch this feature at the final fours of our 4 club competitions earlier this year.
|SmartStats for Basketball - Europe's first ever official baskebtall scouting software|
In fact, basketball statistics have been a major project for FIBA Europe.
In November we launched Smartstats for Basketball and the software has been sent to all of our national federations and clubs for use, free of charge. SmartStats is the first ever official basketball software statistics programme to be launched in Europe.
We held workshops in October to introduce national federation and club IT people to the software. Over 100 people attended the five workshops held in Istanbul, Madrid, Moscow, Munich and Stockholm.
The workshops were also an opportunity to introduce our basketball statistics guidelines, a project we have been working on to try to standardise the interpretation of statistics across Europe. The workshops were all very valuable exercises and we hope to be able tocontinue working on this project in the future.
Television and Marketing
This time last year we informed you that we had decided to take a new route with regards to the distribution of our television rights. After working with Sportfive for 2 years, we felt it was necessary to take go in a different direction and opted to sell the rights in-house, in conjunction with FIBA’s TV department.
We are very happy to report that the decision was undoubtedly the right one. We have since a marked increase in the value of our rights and have been able to package tournaments to ensure maximum coverage.
The education and training of referees has been an area of activity that has seen significant growth this year. In May and June we hosted a series of 6 clinics in Gran Canaria which was attended by all 225 qualified FIBA Europe referees.
The clinics were organised by Referee Co-ordinator Miguel Betancor at the University of Las Palmas and the technical facilities on offer were nothing less than first rate.
The clinics also saw the launch of FIBA Europe’s refereeing web site. The web site is a unique tool which we have been able to use to communicate with and educate our referees. It allows us not only to directly inform all referees of their nominations for FIBA Europe competitions, but is used as a source for educational videos, an area of discussion where referees can interpret game situations, a quick and easy way to evaluate referee performances and a chance for instructors to submit teaching articles and essays.
|Referee education remains a major priority for FIBA Europe|
The web site has proved to be a fantastic teaching and communication tool, but nothing can beat face to face learning. That’s why this summer we assigned FIBA Europe Referee Instructors and Tutors to all of our youth tournaments.
It was their job to evaluate the referees in every game and discuss their performances in a post-game session. Meetings were held with all the referees in which each person is asked to present the key situations in their games. In addition, all referees had access to videos of their games so they could self-evaluate their performances.
The new system was a huge success and we hope to continue working closely together with all of our referees.
In June we signed a Proclamation between FIBA Europe and Special Olympics to work together to promote and assist basketball for the mentally handicapped.
FIBA Europe Offices
We have welcomed 3 new members of staff to the office this year. Louise Schwarz has joined our Competitions and Eligibility Department, Alexandra Hlavacek our IT Department and Helen Gibbs is the new Assistant to the Executive Director.
We now number 20 staff members, representing 11 different countries.
While 2004 has just drawn to a close, our attention has long been on 2005. It will be another action packed year, highlighted by the European Championships for Men and Women.
We are all looking forward to it.