On behalf of Euroleague Basketball, it is a pleasure to welcome you again to the traditional dinner of our Final Four.
Today we are in this historic building, which has been the setting of important events of the history of our old continent, as well as of literature and music. And today we, the basketball people, are here.
I would like it to be a sign that basketball is on the right path. The path of the things in which people are interested,what people like, such as history, literature and music. Our intention and our goal is to make more and more people fall in love with our sport and enjoy our games and our players.
We represent basketball: more specifically, we represent European basketball at the top level of professionalism. European basketball has a specific personality, based upon the pluralism and respect towards the particular characteristics of the 13 countries that today form our league.
Sometimes this can be interpreted as a disadvantage or a problem. Because it is difficult to harmonise so many interests. But as a matter of fact, it is the other way round: pluralism and diversity allow us to have many points of view. Diversity is one of the reasons for the great passion, rivalry and competitiveness of European basketball. Pluralism requires that we make this effort to synthesise, to balance priorities. It requires that we identify the common goals that make our project advance every year.
Today, here again with you, I only have words of gratitude. Gratitude to our players, our coaches and referees, the clubs, their owners, the national leagues and the federations. And also to our partners, sponsors as ISF, Sportingbet and Molten, and our TV broadcasters.
Thank you all for your help and collaboration. Thanks to all of you, there are more of us at this dinner. But the most important thing is that there are more of us in the arenas, and more who watch Euroleague Basketball on television. But we want to number even more. We have plenty of projects. Our league must be open to other countries and other continents. We feel that the time is coming. For all these projects, we need your collaboration.
I am very proud that after a good relationship over the years, today Euroleague Basketball and the NBA have a specific and ambitious project in common, with a very clear goal: make the fans enjoy the games of the teams of both leagues. The best teams in the world. David's presence tonight is the confirmation of this commitment of collaboration, and I want to thank him for this.
We are happy to be collaborating with FIBA World and FIBA Europe and more so after having found a way to join our efforts to reach our common goals. As every year, I want to thank our friends from FIBA for being here with us.
I want to address some words to the host city of this Final Four. Prague is meeting all our great expectations. The city has demonstrated that, with enthusiasm and professionalism, it can host any type of sports event. No one will be able to say that it is not a country for basketball in the future. I would like to thank the Mayor of Prague for his cooperation, the Minister of Sports and Culture and the President of Ceska Sportovni for the great effort that they have made. Thank you.
This dinner has a very special reason. This party is addressed to our players, to our stars. Now that we know the two Euroleague Basketball finalists, we will also know the best players of our competition.
Before finishing, I want to remind that next year we will all meet in Athens, another wonderful city, with a great basketball tradition, which will offer us its beauty and hospitality for our Final Four.
Thank you very much. Enjoy tomorrow’s games, and I hope to see you all next year in Athens.