For two nights all around Europe this week, the Euroleague Basketball social responsibility program One Team will take center court to put the spotlight on community service during Round 13 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and Round 9 of the 7DAYS EuroCup.
The 20 fixtures taking place in the two competitions on Tuesday and Wednesday have been designated One Team Games, the annual celebration of a program that is unique for its reach across many borders to help thousands of disadvantaged people across the continent.
One Team, launched in 2012, is being supported for the very first time this season by each and every one of the 40 Euroleague Basketball clubs that make up the EuroLeague and the EuroCup. Together they cover 34 cities in 13 different countries, with each club running a program of regular activities within its local community.
The efforts undertaken by the clubs and their local community service partners, along with the 50 current and former star players who serve as One Team Ambassadors, will be honored with a series of activities at all games taking place on December 19 and 20.
Before each game, five One Team participants and five athletes from the program’s proud partner, Special Olympics, will be invited courtside to greet the players as they are called onto the court for the team presentations.
At halftime of each game, One Team participants and Special Olympics athletes will return to the court to take part in fun basketball activities to entertain fans during the first few minutes of the break.
The underlying message of solidarity with the program and its participants will be further emphasized by EuroLeague players wearing ONE TEAM, instead of their own names, on the backs of their uniforms during all EuroLeague games.
Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu said he is proud of the program's success:
"Providing meaningful and compassionate support to our local communities in every corner of Europe is fundamental to our mission, and I would like to thank the 40 clubs in the EuroLeague and EuroCup for working so hard to spread the message that we are all One Team.
"This annual week of One Team Games activities is a great way to highlight the positive work that so many clubs, players and others are carrying out all over the continent. At this festive time of year, it's particularly important that we show marginalized members of society that they are not alone."
Front and center at this week's activities, as they are throughout the season with local participants in the program, are the One Team Ambassadors, current players who have chosen to dedicate some of their limited free time to less fortunate community members in the cities where they play.
They are led by Global One Team Ambassador Kyle Hines, CSKA Moscow's three-time EuroLeague champion, who said: "I've been closely involved with One Team for the last five years and it has been amazing to see how much the program has grown during that time.
"By attending sessions and meeting participants I have been able to see on many occasions exactly how we, as professional clubs and players, can use basketball to improve the lives of people who need it the most. I'm looking forward to celebrating the program's success during the One Team Games and I could not be prouder to wear its name on the back of my jersey."
"I have seen One Team make a difference during my years in the EuroLeague, and now that EuroCup clubs are making the same efforts, the program is expanding everywhere," Stratos Perperoglou of Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem said. "That's good for all the communities where One Team operates, and also for players like me who get the chance to spend time with people who are less fortunate."
The superstar commitment to One Team does not stop with current players, either, as plenty of Euroleague Basketball legends will be on hand to show their support this week, as they do throughout the season.
"One Team has taken the goodwill of the clubs and made it work extremely well on an international scale in a way that was not as coordinated or visible when I was a player," Euroleague Basketball Ambassador Nikola Vujcic said. "Now, all of us across Euroleague Basketball are in this together, and it pays off every time we see smiles on the faces of the One Team participants."