The head of the Euroleague has blasted FIBA’s plans to change the qualification windows for the basketball World Cup, labelling them “unacceptable” and claiming the scheme “doesn’t make any sense”.

The sport’s world governing body is expanding the 2019 World Cup field from 24 to 32 countries. But, controversially, many of the periods during which qualification games will be held will clash with the Euroleague and NBA seasons – falling in November 2017, February 2018, June 2018, September 2018, November 2018 and February 2019.

When MVP asked Jordi Bertomeu for his reaction, his disdain was clear.

“We cannot be part of a project where [our] best players are not on the court. FIBA’s known our opinion since at least a year and a half ago. We’ve had many conversations.

“But it’s clear that if they want to implement the same system that football has, they have to be in the same situation — which is not the case! It’s clearly not the case. So we cannot try to copy them – that will never work.

“They’re going back to the system that was used 20 years ago. This not only means they have broken the agreement we made with them in 2004…but the main thing is that we know for sure that the best players will not be on the court. France, Germany, Spain, Italy – they all have many international players in the NBA. Should these countries play in these qualification games without their top players? This doesn’t make any sense!

“[FIBA’s] solution is that they organise the calendar so that these countries face small and weak teams. The question is – why are they doing it? To have a good basketball product, the main goal is to have the best games with the best players. So [they] organise weak games – where Spain will beat Armenia or Georgia by 50 points. As this is not, shall we say, a ‘professional’ approach, FIBA know we will not be engaging in this project. They know we are not going to release players.

“I don’t know if this is a tournament without a future…but without the Euroleague players and the NBA players, they have to decide what they want to do. They are insisting to have four breaks during the season – which is something that is unacceptable for the professional leagues.”

You can read a full report on the Euroleague’s plans for more involvement with the UK – ahead of, during and after their Final Four in London next May – in the January edition of MVP Magazine.

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