Joy, cheers, laughs and the beat of bouncing basketballs have been filling the plazas in the heart of medieval Vitoria-Gasteiz since the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague FanZone opened its doors on Friday morning.
Located in three central squares -- Plaza España (Plaza Nueva), Plaza de la Virgen Blanca and Plaza de los Fueros -- the FanZone has seen thousands of basketball lovers, including men, women and children of all ages, flock to the area and partake in all the fun it has to offer.
Inclement weather might not have cooperated in the morning hours on Friday, but not even the rain could prevent the FanZone from coming to life and fans forming long lines at many of the dozen areas set up for the their pleasure.
It has already become a tradition that the One Team Session & Ambassadors Exhibition Game raises the curtain on the countless activities at the FanZone, and that tradition continued this year. The event featured Final Four Ambassadors joining participants from Fundación 5+11, the One Team partner of local club KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, for on-court activities before interacting with the fans.
It made for quite an impressive site as basketball lovers packed the stands and formed lines in front of the Main Court, supporting a great cause while at the same time showing their passion and understating for basketball by giving loud ovations to the participants.
"Basketball is unifying, bringing people together, and it is a great event," Final Four Ambassador Johnny Rogers said. “When I saw the weather, you don't expect so many people, but all the fans came inside, and there are even people outside. It is cool. Vitoria-Gasteiz is a basketball center, you could feel they understand basketball."
Rogers was one of the legendary EuroLeague players whom fans could see, talk, take photos with or get an autograph from on Friday. The others Final Four Ambassadors on hand were former Baskonia heroes Igor Rakocevic and Andres Nocioni, as well as Joe Arlauckas, Nikola Vujcic, Mirsad Turkcan, Ibrahim Kutluay, Michalis Kakiouzis.
Early on, a number of local fans showed up sporting Baskonia gear and apparel, from jerseys and t-shirts to scarfs, bags and backpacks. As time passed and the rain died down, fans of other Final Four teams started to join in larger numbers. They patiently waited to take turns posing for photos with the Euroleague trophy, or trying their basketball skills -- from shooting threes to dunking and dribbling -- at one of areas sponsored by Euroleague Basketball partners Turkish Airlines, 7DAYS, adidas, Bwin, Eneos, Endesa, AXA, Oscar Mayer, Volvo and StubHub.
"This is a basketball town," Arlauckas, another former Baskonia star, said. "They love basketball in Vitoria-Gasteiz, it is in their blood. I knew that the rain would affect some people, but not all people. It was a great idea to have the Final Four here. People here deserve it; they dedicate so much of their life to basketball."
While live DJs and EFES Euroleague Dancers provide entertainment, non-stop fun in the heart of the city will be highlighted by One Team activities, EuroLeague Academy Tournament and the adidas 3X3 Tournament. The FanZone will be open for 12 hours every day through Sunday, making it a place that every fan must visit during the Final Four weekend in Vitoria-Gasteiz.