The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Vitoria-Gasteiz was a special event for basketball fans everywhere, but perhaps for none more so than 12-year-old Eti Igiebor, a participant in local club KIROLBET Baskonia's One Team program.
Eti was part of a group of local young children who were invited to take part in a number of exciting activities during the Final Four, including a special public session at the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague FanZone alongside players Kyle Hines, Nikita Kurbanov, Felipe Reyes, Sinan Guler and Sertac Sanli.
Most memorably, he was also given the special privilege of stepping onto the court at Fernando Buesa Arena, accompanying CSKA Moscow star Will Clyburn – who was later named Final Four MVP – before the semifinal against Real Madrid.
Hito Rosado, the president of Gizarterako Association, the club's social partner, beamed: "It's something they are going to remember for life, to be directly a part of the Final Four."
It was certainly an unforgettable week for Eti and his friends, but One Team is not just about a few days of activities during the Final Four and Eti has been part of the program for a long time now.
"Eti started with Baskonia's One Team five years ago," Rosado explained. "He started to come with his brother, and now he comes with his sister. He's extremely happy with his routine of coming more than two times a week for basketball training. I think the program has had a very positive impact both on Eti and his family. He has learned some fundamental values and recovered the joy of childhood."
The activities at the Final Four were the climax of a busy One Team season for Baskonia, which delivered its program together with the Gizarterako Association, an open association with a strong street presence and a dynamic, participatory nature.
The program was developed with a focus on social reintegration in the region, as the club's 5+11 Foundation works on the promotion of healthy lifestyle habits with local boys and girls. Basketball is used to encourage positive values such as healthy lifestyle, sportsmanship, hard work, teamwork and tolerance. The program is dedicated towards children from immigrant backgrounds and those with potential to become excluded from society.
Iker Gonzalez de Garibay, Baskonia's One Team Manager, added: "With the One Team project, we have found a great tool to make a big impact upon children from our city. They have found in basketball a way of life, a way of understanding values, a way of enjoying life and a way of developing themselves."
One Team, supported by Turkish Airlines as the One Team Founding Patron and with the collaboration of Special Olympics as Proud Partner, uses basketball to achieve meaningful social impact in our communities across Europe and is supported by every club in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup.
Since its founding in 2012, the One Team program has already helped more than 16,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.