Vassilakopoulos Speaks Out On ULEB and NBA Agreements

24 January 2005

FIBA Europe President Mr. George Vassilakopoulos and Executive Director Mr. Nar Zanolin met the media in Spain last week as guests of the Pedro Ferrandiz Foundation in Madrid.

Mr. Vassilakopoulos touched on several subjects in his address, including relations with ULEB and the NBA.

"November 3rd was a great day for European basketball," said Vassilakopoulos of the day in which an agreement was signed with ULEB.

"In the next year, we should recover everything we lost in the 4-year conflict."

FIBA Europe President Mr. George Vassilakopoulos
But while optimistic of the continued talks, Vassilakopoulos warned that calendar, competition and referee issues still had to be resolved in the next months.

Having nearly completed one of the main objectives of his presidency, (an agreement with ULEB) Vassilakopoulos also referred to the necessity of new talks with the NBA.

"The present contract with the NBA is very one-sided and is having a negative effect on our competitions," said Vassilakopoulos.

"The NBA wants Europe to become a competition similar to the NCAA and that is unacceptable to us. One solution may be to introduce a minimum age of 23 for the NBA draft, although we have been informed by the NBA that this decision must also be approved by the Players’ Association."

In addition, Vassilakopoulos informed the media that FIBA Europe has initiated talks with the WNBA, with particular emphasis on the current calendar conflict.

Vassilakopoulos also took the opportunity to reserve praise for the Spanish National Basketball Federation (FEB).

"The FEB has one of the best systems in Europe for producing young players, and this can be seen by their magnificent results for all national teams from U16 to senior. It is an excellent model that should be examined by all European national federations."

On the European front, basketball also seems to be in a healthy state, as indicated by the 263 teams that took part in national team competition in 2004 at all age levels.

“This summer will see even more national teams play in our competitions,” added Vassilakopoulos.

While participation among FIBA Europe’s national federations has increased, FIBA Europe itself has also guaranteed its financial security.

"The goal is not simply to acquire money but to use the funds to help the development of basketball across Europe."



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