A world-class city that witnessed two of pro basketball's most spectacular season-ending shots ever will have the same opportunity again next spring when the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four returns to Istanbul, Turkey, Euroleague Basketball announced on Tuesday.
Istanbul will host the best four EuroLeague teams from May 19 to 21 in what is sure to be a thrilling finish to a ground-breaking season, the first in European basketball history in which all the teams in the continent's premier competition are guaranteed to play each other.
The 2017 Final Four will take place for the second time at the Sinan Erdem Dome, which officially opened its doors on April 16, 2010 and two years later played host to a memorable Final Four that was one of the most successful in EuroLeague history.
"Basketball has seen outstanding growth in Turkey in recent years, while Istanbul already has a Final Four tradition that's second to none, so we are excited to be crowning the EuroLeague champion there next May," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO, said. "We will return to the Sinan Erdem Dome, one of the finest arenas anywhere in which to watch basketball and the perfect venue to culminate a season in which fans will see all the stars in their own cities for the first time in history. With the way Turkish fans continue embracing the EuroLeague more and more each year, it will be great to have them with us for the very biggest games at the Final Four."
The event will feature an expansion of a strong relationship begun at the start of this decade between Euroleague Basketbal and Turkish Airlines, which had a pivotal role in bringing the Final Four back to Turkey and will host the event, as well. As title sponsor of the competition, Turkish Airlines heads a family of Euroleague Basketball partners in Turkey to which a new member was recently added, Odeabank. The season's crowning weekend also will mark the first Final Four to be held under the 10-year joint venture between Euroleague Basketball and IMG.
“We highly treasure our partnership with Euroleague Basketball because it has allowed us for many years to be part of a great sport - commented Mr İlker Ayci - This year we are even more proud to be the title sponsor of this championship, since the Final Four will actually take place in our city of birth and global hub, Istanbul. We are sure that the international atmosphere and innovative traits of our city will add an extra touch of innovation and thrill to such an amazing event. Furthermore, every year we commit to ideating, together with Euroleague Basketball, new and exciting ways to deliver a sporting experience that truly goes beyond expectations to all basketball fans and travellers”.
Istanbul has been the unforgettable scene of an unmatched history of memorable Final Four moments. The 1992 Final Four ended with legend Sasha Djordjevic making a three-point shot with time running out as Partizan Belgrade won its only continental title in an upset at Abdi Ipekci Arena. Two decades later, Olympiacos Piraeus rallied from 19 points behind with 11 minutes to play at Sinan Erdem to defeat CSKA Moscow on the season's final shot, by Georgios Printezis.
The Sinan Erdem Dome has a capacity for 16,000 spectators for basketball and, in addition to the 2012 Final Four, has hosted such prestigious basketball events as the 2010 world championships.
The upcoming 2016-17 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season that ends in Istanbul will be the first in which there is no possibility that two opponents can meet for the first time at the Final Four. The new competition system features 30 regular season games among the competition's 16 teams, each playing the other 15 both home and away before four playoff series decide the semifinalists who will compete for the title in Istanbul.
As such, the champion who wears the crown in Istanbul next May will always be remembered as the first who had to go through every single one of the very best clubs in Europe in order to survive. The new champion must play a minimum of 35 games, as well, making it also the longest season ever to survive in order to become Europe's elite club competition champion.
The 2016-17 EuroLeague season opens on October 12 in the Spanish capital of Madrid with the replay of the first game of the modern EuroLeague on the same date in 2001, Real Madrid vs. Olympiacos Piraeus.