At the World Cup, the Basketball Euroleague made a statement towards the US professional league. The premier class starts its 24th season on Thursday. Taking part: two German teams and nine German professionals, including seven world champions.
Starts the Euroleague with Milan: world champion Johannes Voigtmann (right). IMAGO/Independent Photo Agency Int.
13:7! This is an alternative result of this year’s final of the Basketball World Cup. Of course, Germany won 83:77 against Serbia and sensationally took the global crown for the first time in this second major world sport alongside football. That shines in the foreground. The final in Manila was also a triumph for European basketball. A triumph over the stars from the USA, the motherland of basketball, who have seemed overwhelming for decades. And in particular a points victory for the Euroleague, the European premier league, over the North American NBA.
Euroleague start 2023/24
The NBA is still the best league in the world. The best individual players on this planet cavort in their glittering multimillion-dollar circus. But only seven NBA stars were on the floor in the 2023 World Cup final – and 13 Euroleague professionals! The almost all-NBA event between the USA and Canada was all about bronze. Team USA didn’t have the very best players at the start – they often only come to the Olympics. Nevertheless, it was a highly ambitious ensemble with three all-stars, four-time NBA champion coach Steve Kerr and the clear goal of gold that defeated the German team around captain Dennis Schröder in an epic exchange of blows 113:111 in the semifinals.
“Proud among Europeans”: Melli congratulates Voigtmann
Of course, the German NBA players Schröder (Toronto), Franz and Moritz Wagner (Orlando) and Daniel Theis (Indiana) as well as their three Serbian counterparts Bogdan Bogdanovic (Atlanta), Nikola Jovic (Miami) and Filip Petrusev (Philadelphia) played in the final Roll. But also Aleksa Avramovic (Partizan Belgrade), Vanja Marinkovic (Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz) and Marko Guduric (Fenerbahce Istanbul), the Bayern professionals Isaac Bonga and Andreas Obst and, above all, vice-captain Johannes Voigtmann (Milan), who won the gold medal. Game showed his best tournament performance. See you all again for the Euroleague season, which starts this Thursday.
Tactical team basketball – with several Americans per club
“There is a sense of pride among the Europeans that European basketball has performed so well at the highest level,” says Voigtmann, who received euphoric congratulations from teammate Nicolo Melli in the team hotel in the Philippines after the semi-final. He had previously suffered a massive quarter-final defeat against the USA with Italy.
Prototype Voigtmann: In the Euroleague since 2016
Voigtmann is a prototypical Euroleague performer, intelligent, variable, a good thrower with an excellent eye for the free teammate. And that as a 2.11 meter man. The league, in which, despite all the European strength, several Americans play on each team, is characterized by tactical team basketball, while the NBA represents a different level, especially in terms of athleticism and individual strength.
In 2016, Voigtmann moved from the Frankfurt Skyliners, where he matured into a professional under world champion coach Gordon Herbert, to the Euroleague, first playing for the Spanish team Baskonia and, from 2019, for CSKA Moscow. The Eisenach native left the club immediately after the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine in February 2022, and shortly afterwards CSKA was excluded from the Euroleague.
34 main round game days, play-ins and play-offs – everything culminates in the Final Four
Unlike what is usual in football, the premier class is not a cup format, but a complete 18-team league in which the teams meet twice on 34 main round match days. In addition to Alba Berlin and FC Bayern, who will duel in Munich at the start on Thursday, there are teams from Spain (4), Turkey, Greece, Italy, Serbia (2 each), France, Lithuania, Israel and Monaco (1 each). ).
Matures at FC Barcelona: Oscar da Silva, native of Munich. IMAGO/NurPhoto
It is a set field of participants with fixed members and a few wild cards; the German surprise champion Ulm, for example, only starts in the second-class Eurocup. In parallel to the organization of the Euroleague, the European association FIBA Europe offers two competition formats with the Champions League – the Telekom Baskets Bonn were the first German winner in this competition in 2023 – and the Europe Cup, each of which can be assessed as weaker in terms of sport.
After play-ins for the seventh to tenth placed teams and quarter-final play-offs (best of five), everything in the Euroleague culminates in the Final Four. In one weekend, in a city with a large arena, the semi-finals, the game for third place and the final are all do-or-die. Four teams and their fans make the Final Four venue a basketball hotspot year after year. However, no German team has ever made it to this longed-for event. Alba and Bayern are not among the heavyweights in Europe, at least the Munich team are striving for this status, but are still a bit away from the top in terms of budget. In 2023, Real Madrid triumphed ahead of Olympiacos Piraeus, AS Monaco and FC Barcelona. Four out of ten well-known football names in the league.
Ten NBA players moved to the Euroleague in the summer
It is an intensive competition that takes place parallel to the domestic league operations, which causes a lot of travel stress due to two game days during the week, but above all offers basketball at the highest level and in which the clubs can also manage annual salaries in the millions. While more and more Euroleague-trained professionals are making an impact in the NBA, ten players went the other way this summer. These include stars such as Serge Ibaka (FC Bayern), 2019 NBA champion, Kemba Walker (Monaco), four-time all-star, as well as the Hernangomez brothers Willy (Barcelona) and Juancho (Panathinaikos Athens), 2019 World Champion and 2022 European Champion with Spain.
Seven world champions, one veteran and one trump card up his sleeve
In Milan, alongside Voigtmann, Maodo Lo (who came from Berlin in the summer) also wants to nurture the hopes of the Final Four. Other 2023 world champions alongside Bonga and Obst in the Euroleague: Johannes Thiemann (Alba), Niels Giffey (Bayern) and, for the first time, Justus Hollatz, who will try out for Anadolu Istanbul, the champion of 2021 and 2022. Center veteran Tibor Pleiß has been a pillar there since 2018, but has not found common ground with the DBB since the 2015 European Championships. Even without Pleiß, his selection still has trump cards up its sleeve with players like Oscar da Silva (25). The Munich native has been at FC Barcelona since 2022. A top team in the Euroleague that has just made an impressive statement on the big World Cup stage.