BallinEurope admits to having felt a great deal of skepticism when the rumors of a new major pan-European (and now -Asian! But more on that momentarily) basketball association were first announced; day by day it seems, however, that the Mediterranean League comes closer to reality.
The prospective league could potentially involve teams from nine nations, including superpower clubs like Fenerbahce Ulker, Efes Pilsen, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, Montepaschi Siena, and Partizan Belgrade.
After a heady weekend in which Georgios Vassilakopoulos visited Qatar to meet with FIBA Asia Sheikh Saud bin Al Al-Thani and Middle Eastern media giant Al Jazeera chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani, the latter of which and subsequently announced a broadcasting deal for the embryonic league, the Hellenic Basketball Federation president yesterday spoke to Greek media to announce that everything with the league is full-steam ahead – possibly even for the 2011-12 season.
As Vassilakopoulos sees it, the league would include three or four Greek teams – including the big two, naturally – in an effort to solve the “impasse,” i.e. a certain lack of competitive parity, in EƩAKE ball. His “supranational championship” is an answer to this problem, says Vassilakopoulos.
Beyond Greece, nations looking to contribute teams to the MBL (that would be the acronym, no?) include Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Qatar and Italy.
Though Vassilakopoulous hesitated to say when the first opening day tipoff might be, stressing the need for a solid five-year economic plan, he emphasized that multinational sponsorships are being discussed and great interest is showing in the corporate sector. In short, says Vassilakopoulous, “We are talking about as soon as possible. If possible, next year.”
Thanks to readers Zoran and Apollo for suggesting BallinEurope get on this story.