Nicosia and Botevgrad – perfect places for Champions League qualifiers

It seems that basketball will be back in our lives sooner or later. The qualifiers for the Basketball Champions League are set to take place on 24-25 September in the new format already announced where each game will be a do-or-die.  With all these federations and governments scared about Coronavirus it was very difficult to find some cities where the tournament could take place. To have 4 spots, again was very complicated. So FIBA took the best decision: to have only 2 cities with 8 teams concentrated in each of them, like the NBA in the Orlando bubble.

The choice of Botevgrad and Nicosia seems to be perfect from many points of view. Firstly. we speak about countries like Bulgaria and Cyprus that don’t have many cases of Covid-19 because they are a bit isolated and could control better the evolution of the virus.

Then, many teams are from the area and it will be easier for them to reach the spot. For the tournament that will take place in Nicosia, the participants are from Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Ukraine, Poland, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Almost all these countries are nearby or having good flight connections with Cyprus.

For the second spot, Botevgrad, there are 5 teams from Eastern Europe, starting with the host, Balkan and then U-Banca Transilvania Cluj-Napoca, Igokea Alexandrovac, Neptunas Klaipeda and Tsmoki-Minsk, while other 3 teams are from Switzerland (Fribourg Olympic), UK (London Lions) and Portugal (Sporting CP).

Last but not least, these 2 countries, Bulgaria and Cyprus are having better policies regarding the idea of hosting an international tournament during the pandemic time. To give you just an example, in the neighbour country, Romania, this kind of event is not possible to take place because the authorities are not helping sports activities to be back. In Romania, too many restrictions are killing basketball and are making doubtful the start of the season.

Gratian Cormos

Image: Fiba Europe