A day after their players got the two-week EB Institute Annual Workshops started, Turkish Airlines EuroLeague head coaches took the stage at the Euroleague Basketball headquarters on Tuesday and Wednesday to make their all-important contribution to preparations for the upcoming 2019-20 season and beyond.
As always, the coaches engaged in spirited discussions with Euroleague Basketball executives about all aspects of the competition that could help them in their jobs. The opportunity to have their voices heard – on everything from officiating and game rules to the economics of the league and media relations – was the perfect catalyst for a wide-ranging conversation directed at taking the EuroLeague's drama and competitiveness to more and more fans.
Among many topics that coaches were briefed on was Euroleague Basketball's future plans for access to the competition; aspects of the Financial Stability and Financial Fair Play Regulations that affect them and their clubs; existing avenues of communication for addressing officiating issues; and the medical services aimed at optimizing the care options available to players, coaches and other club employees through the Euroleague Basketball medical officer.
"It's my first time, and for me, a new concept, very interesting," Zvezdan Mitrovic of LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, one of the newcomers in a league expansion that will see 18 teams tip off the new season in early October. "Talking about budgets and things that aren't strictly for the coaches is very interesting. It made a big impression on me."
Among the features of this year's meeting was an extended media training session hosted by Fiona Cotterill, director of AlFiMedia, who discussed with the coaches various aspects, pros and cons, of dealing with journalists on a consistent basis.
"It's an obligation, but it's also an opportunity," Ms. Cotterill said. "Don't be afraid to take some control over what you want to talk about. You'd be surprised how often you can do that."
As part of the training session, the coaches engaged in a role reversal by sitting as journalists in a press conference situation and asking questions of their peers on the stage in order to then discuss best practices in how to connect with fans through the media.
"The media training was very positive," Ioannis Sfairopoulos of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv said. "It was the first time that we did something like that, and it's big progress, I believe. It helps us to think about the details of our cooperation and communication with the media. Although we are experienced in facing the media before, during and after games, we now have a better view of how we need to control ourselves and how to understand that media is part of our job. We need to communicate and find ways to cooperate to do our best for the good of the sport."
On Wednesday, the coaches held an all-day exchange with the Euroleague Basketball officiating department to hear about upcoming changes in the game rules and discuss on-court game situations.
"The important thing is that the officiating department has its ears and eyes open," CSKA Moscow head coach Dimitris Itoudis said. "They want to have feedback from us and from the players, who are the main actors. They play the game and we teach them how to play. It is very important to see where we can have a clear game and fair officiating, and to understand at the same time that we are all on the same page – referees, coaches and players. That's very important."
The eight-hour sit-down with Richard Stokes, Euroleague Basketball's Senior Director of Officiating, served the vital purpose of reaching an understanding of how to make EuroLeague games better for both the protagonists and fans.
The EB Institute Annual Workshops, now in their eighth edition, bring together professionals from across the spectrum of Euroleague Basketball clubs during the first two weeks of July to set the stage, in a spirit of brainstorming collaboration, for the 2019-20 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup seasons.