Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball, CEO
"Hello and welcome to you all to today's press conference. I would like to thank you all for coming today, media members, guests and partners.
"I would like to start by saying that we are very happy and excited at being able to celebrate the top European basketball competition here in the o2 World arena and in the city of Berlin from May 1 to 3. Euroleague has been in Berlin since last July, when we celebrated the competition's regular season draw here in the city. Throughout this year, Berlin has been the city of reference in the basketball community across Europe. Our goal is to bring the best of European basketball firstly to the fans here in Berlin, then to the fans of the clubs, and finally to all those fans across the globe who will be able to enjoy the games on television, in 171 countries reaching almost 1,700 million households.
"We have been working together with AEG, our partners in this event, over the past year and we are grateful for their help and partnership. We look forward to tipping off the Euroleague Final Four and to continuing our partnership in other great arenas such as the o2 World.
"Each year we seek to make this event one of the premier sporting events in Europe and we look forward to sharing it with the citizens of Berlin. On May 1 the city of Berlin will be welcoming the four top European clubs who, over the weekend, will duke it out on the court to be crowned the European champions.
"But off the court there will also be a great number of activities that will be taking place over the weekend. Including the street-ball events and the Nike International Junior Tournament, a grass roots programme that we have developed to bring a spotlight to our future talents. The teams that will participate in this event includes the city's own junior team from Alba Berlin, as well as Union Olimpija Ljubljana, Kalise Gran Canaria, Montepaschi Siena, Lietuvos Rytas, Unicaja, FMP and KK Hemofarm Stada.
We also will be able to enjoy the Euroleague Basketball Awards Ceremony, where we celebrate and honor the top talents and their achievements throughout the season. Finally, as part of the corporate responsibility programme, Euroleague Basketball players, clubs and staff will be doing some outreach to the local community, which will include a hospital visit as well as dedicating the semifinal games to the 46664 Nelson Mandela Fund to raise awareness against the AIDS virus.
"I would like to thank our partners AEG for helping us in making this a great event. I would also like to thank our sponsors: Nike, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), Efes Pilsen, Cosmote and Ford, as without them we would not be able to be here today.
"I would also like to give a special thanks to Berlin's local team Alba Berlin.
"I would also like to wish the best of luck to the four teams that will be participating, three of which have already qualified; Panathinaikos, Olympiacos and CSKA. We remain expectant of the two remaining teams, Tau from Vitoria and Regal FC Barcelona, both from Spain, who on Thursday have to battle on the court to find out if they have qualified.
"Though we are only just over three weeks away from the Final Four, there is still a lot of work to do. It is our responsibility to ensure that the competitiveness that takes place does so on the court, that it is the sport of basketball that is being enjoyed and that good sportsmanship prevails. Together with AEG and local authorities, we are working so that all spectators who come to this event, which will be sold out, are able to enjoy a good, competitive game with fair play, respect for fellow athletes and fans, and are able to enjoy a good night of entertainment through the sport of basketball."
Detlef Kornett, AEG Europe, CEO
"First of all I'd like to welcome everyone and to say thank you for coming today. I'd also like to welcome Euroleague Basketball and their CEO, Jordi Bertomeu, to the o2 World.
"It was important for us to bring one of the most prestigious international sporting events to Berlin. We wanted to show that with our arena as a platform, together with our experience in a partnership with Euroleague Basketball, we can make such an event successful, even a commercial success. And we did. The event is sold out. More than 50 percent of the tickets were sold long before it was confirmed which teams would participate. In addition to the Euroleague sponsors, we received great support from the business community, starting with major brands like Cisco Sytems down to the car dealership Ford-Kroymans-Berlin, which will provide us with vehicles for the shuttle service.
"The Final Four will be broadcast into 171 countries worldwide, which shows the significance of an event that would most likely not have been staged in Berlin if it wasn't for the o2 World.
"We all can look forward to a great basketball weekend in May, with the best of the best from European basketball here. Jordi Bertomeu knows more about basketball than I do and will provide you with a deeper inside look at the competition. Still I am excited to see defending champion CSKA Moscow, the most dominant team of the decade, a six-time champion and a participant in the previous six Final Fours; Panathinaikos Athens, four-time continental champion and the most successful team during the last quarter of the century, a perennial title threat; and Olympiacos Piraeus, the 1997 champions, who came close to the Final Four in last couple of years but lost in the quarterfinals, and whose last Final Four was ten years ago, also in Germany, in Munich 1999.
"We are all waiting for the result of the game between Barcelona and Tau, two more of the biggest names in Euroleague Basketball, one of whom will clinch the final spot.
"Certainly one the highlights will be the semifinal game between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos, one of the most bitter rivalries in all of sports: the German equivalent in Soccer Schalke against Dortmund grows pale by comparison. "