A diverse group of experts forming the new Euroleague Basketball Advisory Council held its inaugural meeting on Thursday in Barcelona to advance the mission of making the game better and better, on and off the court, for Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup fans now and in the future.
The initial membership of the council includes former players and current coaches Zeljko Obradovic of Fenerbahce Istanbul and Aito Garcia Reneses of ALBA Berlin; veteran referee Luigi Lamonica; club president Paulius Motiejunas of Zalgiris Kaunas; and sports industry executive Paul Gils, Vice President EMEA & India for New Era.
"We cannot stop thinking about how to make our competitions and our product better," Jordi Bertomeu, President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball, said. "What we are learning these years is how complex the sports industry is. This makes the younger generation, the millennials, very important, as we need to capture their attention. There are many sports organisations, governing bodies and competition organisers trying to do the same. It is very competitive and complex, and we believe that good products will own the future. It's all about the experience that we can offer to fans, inside and outside the arena, and we want to be more sophisticated in how we engage with them."
The council functions as a think tank charged with studying and promoting changes in the basketball operations, rules and regulations to be applied to Euroleague Basketball competitions.
"It's very important to have everyone thinking in the same direction so that we can change basketball to make it better, and always having the fans in mind," Obradovic, who won his ninth EuroLeague title this spring, said. "We have to discuss, think about things, and ultimately to help in any way we can to improve the competition, I insist, for the fans, so that they can understand everything that we want to improve."
Key to its mission is the fact that council members bring expertise in all aspects of the game, from playing and coaching to refereeing, management and marketing, assuring that all perspectives are heard on any potential changes.
"It's great to hear the opinion from referees, and also from people who think the game should be easier to understand," Garcia Reneses said. "It's also good to hear from players, coaches or even marketing people or fans, who normally want changes to make basketball even more spectacular."
Among the proposals that the council talked about at length was widening the court to reduce sideline out-of-bounds violations, to give three-point shooters more space in the corners, and to allow for better spacing of offensive players. Other on-court subjects discussed were: re-introducing the jump ball; improving the no-charge semi-circle rule; introducing a defensive three-second violation; having technical fouls not count towards the five personal foul limit; and adjusting the duration of both quarter breaks and halftime.
The council reviewed the use of instant replay based on a summary report from the Euroleague Basketball officiating department, and also suggested other regulations improvements to the EuroLeague and EuroCup competitions.
The discussions followed on from suggestions received from club head coaches and other stakeholders. The council's proposals will be brought to the relevant Euroleague Basketball governing bodies, with rules proposals to be shared previously with FIBA, as has been the case since the inception of Euroleague Basketball in 2000.
"It is really interesting that Euroleague Basketball is doing this, talking to different people in the sport, all of them interested about the fans and the game itself," Motiejunas said. "So I think it's a huge step. It's a great thing to be here and listen to all the new ideas and see how we can make it better for the fans, for the players, for the coaches, for the referees and for the game altogether."