Spanish boost for Basketball Champions League as ACB invests
By Simon Ward
The Basketball Champions League, the European clubs competition backed by world governing body FIBA and a group of national leagues, has received a lift with the news that ACB, the organiser of the Spanish league, has become a shareholder.
In what the BCL today described as “a new landmark moment,” Spain this week joined the 10 other countries and the Union of European Basketball Leagues (ULEB) that have invested in the tournament, which launched in 2016 as a merit-based alternative to the competitions of Euroleague Basketball.
Spanish teams have already been competing in the BCL, but this is the first time that the ACB, which oversees Spain’s Liga Endesa, one of Europe’s top national leagues, will have a direct financial stake, although the level of investment has not been disclosed.
Confirmation of the ACB’s involvement came at Tuesday’s second BCL ordinary assembly, which took place ahead of game-day eight of the regular season in what is the competition’s third campaign.
Antonio Martin (pictured, right), the president of the ACB, said: “We are very pleased to join, as a shareholder, a growing competition such as the Basketball Champions League, together with 10 other European leagues and the ULEB. Liga Endesa teams have had a great performance and a very important role in all three seasons of the Basketball Champions League.”
Patrick Comninos (left), the chief executive of the BCL, added: “We are delighted to welcome the ACB among our shareholders. As a true basketball country, Spain is a significant addition for us, in line with the Basketball Champions League values, such as inclusiveness and European representation. Together with the 10 other signatory leagues and ULEB, the Spanish league will help us grow and develop our competition even further.”
The BCL is a 50-50 joint venture between FIBA, the international basketball federation, and the leagues, which, in addition to the ACB, comprise those from Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Turkey.
This season’s BCL has involved teams from 30 different countries competing at different stages of the competition, including Spain’s Iberostar Tenerife, the champions in 2016-17, UCAM Murcia and Montakit Fuenlabrada, all of which qualified for the regular season.
However, top Liga Endesa teams Barcelona Lassa, Real Madrid and Kirolbet Baskonia will not be participants given that they have long-term guaranteed places in the elite EuroLeague, while other Spanish teams have opted to play in the EuroCup also organised by Euroleague Basketball, as opposed to the BCL.