HELSINKI, October 17, 2017 - Finland coach Henrik Dettmann has
launched a robust defense of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019
Qualifiers windows and denounced the EuroLeague as a "grave danger for not
only European basketball, but the whole of institutionalized sport."
In an interview with his country's basketball federation website,
the coach that has steered the Susijengi into the last four FIBA EuroBaskets
and helped take the sport in his homeland to new heights has branded
the EuroLeague as hypocrites when they rejected a recent attempt at a
compromise by FIBA related to the World Cup Qualifiers windows.
"It's absurd that EuroLeague released a statement claiming
they are worried about how much the players have to travel in the national team
windows," Dettmann said. "Back in 2016, EuroLeague decided to nearly
double their own regular season game totals."
Dettmann chastised the EuroLeague for how it operates.
"While EuroLeague has the grand ambition to form an 'NBA of
Europe', factually the league has only been shrinking throughout the
years," he said. "EuroLeague is run by a handful of elite clubs and
for the rest, their business is highly unprofitable. Meanwhile, the millionaire
moguls running the show in the EuroLeague are only interested in individual
success of the clubs.
"At worst, EuroLeague is like a superpower in
geopolitical chess. It divides the wealth between a handful of friends,
tries to influence the middle class - also known as the spectators - with
mind games and circus, rattles their weapons against anyone that disagrees
with them and moves internationally agreed borders slowly, inch by inch, so
that no one can take notice before it's too late."
10,000 Finnish fans traveled to watch the Susijengi at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo: FIBA)
Dettmann cited the important role that national federations
have always had for players.
path of young players from their own back yard to the top of the world is
traditionally built upon national federations," he said. "If this
path were to be cut off, the whole market would be filled with a
huge number of free agents that are eager to pick the fruits from the
trees but are not ready to grow, nourish and trim the tree itself. A prime
example of this is the NCAA bribe scandal last month.
follows business logic and business logic only. It presents a grave danger for
not only European basketball, but the whole of institutionalized sport as well.
We're talking about something much bigger than just a couple of qualifiers
games here and there. We're talking about referee education, junior player
development, the basic everyday operations of basketball clubs."
Dettmann says basketball is not the only sport under
threat by the way the EuroLeague conducts its business.
they take basketball, then they move on to the next one," he said.
"The next one in line might be soccer, since soccer is much a bigger
industry than basketball in Europe."
coach says the EuroLeague, in its criticism of the World Cup
Qualifiers, is wrong to compare itself to the NBA and the NCAA, which are
not compelled to release players for the November and February World Cup
comparison to the NBA and NCAA is also beyond my understanding," Dettmann
said. "The NBA and NCAA operate on a whole different continent and in
completely different conditions than EuroLeague. These two American leagues and
the EuroLeague can't be compared."
EuroLeague refusing to budge on its insistence that its games must be played
during the windows, Dettmann says players are being put under unnecessary
pressure. FIBA recently offered a compromise that was rejected by the
"The biggest threat is that if there is no compromise
solution, the clubs and national teams roll the ball to the players and let
them make the decision," Dettmann said. "But the players' job is to
play, not to fight somebody else's wars."
referred to Spanish basketball, where national team coach Sergio Scariolo is
expected to name a roster for the World Cup Qualifiers that has players on
clubs that compete in the EuroLeague.
makes this interesting is that Jorge Garbajosa of Spanish Basketball Federation
has been told to invite all the EuroLeague players to the FIBA World Cup qualifiers,
since it would be against the Spanish law if the players were not to
participate in national team duties," he said. "We'll see what
happens in this case."
Players often cite the national team as being the most important
one they play for. Miami Heat star Goran Dragic recently called Slovenia's
FIBA EuroBasket 2017 title triumph the highlight of his career. When it comes
to the national side, the players want to wear the shirt of their country. They
crave for the opportunity to do so before their own fans.
whole idea of national team sports is based on payback principle," said
Dettmann, who also had a spell as Germany coach and led them to a Third-Place finish
at the 2002 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Indianapolis. "When a player
represents his home country, they reach out to their country and basketball
community - the whole extended family behind them. Players represent their
national teams when they identify their roots, want to give back and share the
my 25 years as a national team head coach, I have seen time and time again how
important the national team is to all the players and how sincerely they want
to play in front of the people who have been behind them as well as the next
running the EuroLeague do not recognize the relationship between players and
national teams. When they suggested how the whole national team activities
should be organized in July - Olympic Games, too - it said everything about
them and the principles they follow."
Slovenia's EuroBasket 2017 triumph was the highlight of Goran Dragic's career. (Photo: FIBA)
Dettmann also pointed out the need for FIBA to make decisions in
the best interest of the sport.
he said, "FIBA has gone through tough times but they have learned from
their past mistakes and nowadays, they are a prime example of a modern sports
organization understanding transparency, democracy and principles of
one were to take responsibility in the totality of the game as a whole, there
would be no common good. There would only be a dog-eat-dog world filled with
self-proclaimed caliphates who only try to gather as much power and money as
deemed the need for national team games throughout the year as critical
and not just during summers.
anyone in the entertainment industry, it is mandatory to operate in the market
full-time," Dettmann said. "While EuroLeague has improved its
brand these past years, Real Madrid can gather only a tenth of the
attendance ratings the Spanish national team can. With the German national team
in 2002, we challenged soccer in TV ratings during the FIBA World Cup.”
"National teams can rally the large crowds around them and
ignite dreams and create space for the sport to grow. For instance, at EuroBasket
2017, Finland and Slovenia turned into phenomena. The Susijengi tripled the TV
ratings of Finland's soccer national team, even though soccer has seven times
the number of players in Finland compared to basketball.
return to the national team window system is only a small part of a bigger
totality. It is a remarkable fight in the battle between the basic fundamentals
and principles of sports against faceless market forces."