The countdown to the 2007 Final Four officially began in Athens, Greece on Wednesday with a press conference in which Euroleague Basketball expressed its great satisfaction about bringing the competition's signature event to the Greek capital in six weeks. The Final Four, to be held at OAKA Arena from May 4 to 6, is the biggest indoor sporting event to take place in Athens since that city successfully hosted the Summer Olympics in 2004. "The Final Four is an opportunity for fans across Europe, and especially here in Athens, to fully enjoy their passion for basketball," Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu told the press. "It also offers us the opportunity to be close to our fans." Bertomeu also announced the participating teams for the fifth edition of the International Junior tournament, which runs concurrently with the Final Four: FMP, Cibona, Maccabi, Montepaschi, Olympiacos, CSKA, Prokom and Zalgiris. Bertomeu was joined at the press conference by the Lord Mayor of Athens, Mr. Nikitas Kaklamanis, and the President of the Hellenic National Committee for UNICEF, Mr. Lambros Kanellopoulos. Euroleague Basketball and UNICEF Greece will promote a special campaign for social responsibility during the Final Four that will include various activities. "The Final Four is also an opportunity to bring us closer to the general population and to try and make a difference," Bertomeu said. "Euroleague Basketball, its coaches and players have a commitment to those who are in need. I want to especially congratulate SportingBet for its support and collaboration throughout this Euroleague Basketball season."
Final Four press conference comments:
Nikitas Kaklamanis, Lord Mayor of Athens
"Hello and welcome to the city of Athens. Welcome Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball CEO. I'd like to start this press conference by thanking all my colleagues who have been working to make this come true. It is going to be a great event. On behalf of the City of Athens, welcome to our city. We are going to offer the best basketball. There is a lot of passion and distinction in Athens from past events that gave us the know-how to host any sporting event. We have the organization and the structure for an event such as the Euroleague Final Four. Athens was able to host the 2004 Olympic Games very successfully and we have the best possible facilities available for this event. As Greek philosopher Democritus said, 'Improving yourself is the best of all wins'. This is one of the key elements in this Final Four. Participation from each player is going to be key and any personal success will mean a team effort. Again, I'd like to welcome Jordi Bertomeu and Euroleague Basketball fans and all the foreigners who will be coming to the city. This competition brings great basketball to the city from May 4th to 6th. Good luck and congratulations."
Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball CEO
"Thank you for your warm welcome and hospitality in Athens. We are very glad to come to this magnificent building and city. We are here to talk about Euroleague Basketball and the Final Four in Athens. I would like to start this press conference by thanking the Lord Mayor of Athens, Nikitas Kaklamanis, and all his staff for all their help over the past few months in the coordination of the event. Their assistance has been and is very helpful for Euroleague Basketball. We are very happy to be able to bring the Final Four event to all of you here in Athens, next May 4th to 6th, in the fabulous OAKA arena. OAKA offers some great infrastructures, with over 18,000 seats for fans who want to enjoy the best basketball. Seats that will no doubt will be filled with some great fans, as are the local fans here are."
"It is clear that fans who follow Euroleague Basketball are club fans, who feel passion and devotion for the sport of basketball. These fans follow the competition closely and feel every game. Fortunately, this devotion for basketball is growing, with increasing TV coverage such that we now are viewed in 130 countries."
"The Final Four is an opportunity for fans across Europe, and especially here in Athens, to fully enjoy their passion for basketball. It also offers us the opportunity to be close to our fans. Coming to Athens will give us the chance not only to enjoy a great city like Athens, but also to enjoy the great fans who follow basketball. All of this is going to culminate in a great weekend here in the city of Athens."
"The Final Four is not only a series of games to crown the European basketball champion. It is also a series of events that bring basketball to a wider audience, as well as giving young talents the chance compete in Euroleague Basketball’s Junior Tournament, with teams like FMP, Cibona, Maccabi, Montepaschi, Olympiacos, CSKA, Prokom and Zalgiris. The Final Four will not only be basketball games, either, for we will also have the Official Gala Dinner, a symposium on marketing and communications, a coaches' clinic and also a three-on-three tournament."
"The Final Four is also an opportunity to bring us closer to the general population and to try and make a difference. Euroleague Basketball, its coaches and players have a commitment to those who are in need."
"To be able to develop our commitment in society, Euroleague Basketball has opted to launch a new Social Responsibility Program with a new and great partner, UNICEF. Euroleague Basketball will be supporting their campaign UNITE FOR CHILDREN, UNITE AGAINST AIDS, whose goal is to help children suffering from AIDS around the world by improving their lives. Euroleague Basketball and UNICEF will be working together throughout the Final Four weekend by bringing attention to the hardships children with AIDS encounter through a series of actions and activities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Kanellopoulos, President of the Hellenic National Committee for UNICEF, not only for being here with us, but also for making this project possible, as well as all our sponsor and partners such as ISF, the Greece national tourism organization GNTO, Molten, Express Holidays, Nike, Alpha Bank, Cosmote, Nokia and Gatorade. I want to especially congratulate SportingBet for its support and collaboration throughout this Euroleague Basketball season."
Mr. Lambros Kanellopoulos, President of the Hellenic National Committee for UNICEF
"Thank you, Jordi Bertomeu and Mr. Kaklamanis, Lord Mayor of Athens. This is a great collaboration not only for UNICEF Greece, but also for UNICEF around the world. These are really good news that bring faith and solidarity to those who are having hardship in their lives. This partnership will help us highlight the difficulties of human rights for children and the problems children around the world have regarding their human rights. This partnership develops solidarity in facing those important issues. A lot of innovative events will take place at this year's Final Four in Athens to raise the awareness about these problems. This will be a platform to send this message."