Ettore Messina explains why the format for the playoffs should change

2023-01-06T23:20:35+00:00 2023-01-07T13:28:07+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

06/Jan/23 23:20

Ettore Messina believes that changes should be made in the way the EuroLeague playoff teams are determined.

By Antonis Stroggylakis/

Olimpia Milano coach Ettore Messina suggested that EuroLeague should examine scenarios in which more teams are involved in the postseason since he considers the current situation with eight out of 18 clubs advancing to the playoffs to be a bit unfair.

“I was saying this probably two-three years ago. I was probably the first to say this. We should start considering a different format for the playoffs,” Messina said during the post-game presser after Milano‘s away loss to Olympiacos Piraeus. “Because only eight teams out of 18 making the playoffs is not a fair number.”

Messina, a four-time EuroLeague champion, cited the NBA as an example where more than half of the league’s 30 teams make the playoffs and two from each Conference get their tickets via the Play-In tournament.

“If you see the NBA there are 16 teams who make the playoffs plus there are at least four teams who are involved with the Play-In,” Messina mentioned. He had his own experience in the NBA as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs.

Messina shared his thoughts on the current playoff format of the EuroLeague and his ideas for potential changes after he commented on how tight is the postseason battle this year.

Halfway through the regular season, there is a five-way tie in the first place of the standings at 11 – 6, while four more teams have a 9 – 8 record. Five clubs occupy spots from 14 to 17, all at 6-11. Including Messina’s Milano.

This EuroLeague season is widely considered probably the most competitive the championship has been in its modern era. Not only there are minor distances between teams (the 17th team is only two wins away from the playoff zone) but there has been a significant and perhaps unprecedented number of upsets.

“I see every time and round there are at least a couple if not more surprises you know,” Messina said. “You take a game lightly for whatever reason and… boom, you lose it. It’s extremely competitive and anything can happen. I don’t even know how many wins you need to make the playoffs because of how the standings are.”

Unlike other EuroLeague seasons, there’s not a powerhouse dominating the competition and grabbing an abundance of wins with ease like Anadolu Efes in 2020 (a 24-4 record before the league was canceled due to COVID-19) or the 2019 Fenerbahce Beko (25-5) and CSKA Moscow (26-6). There’s also a lack of strugglers who, in other years, had already lost the playoff race by the first leg of the regular season.

This new reality has created far more balanced standings and a far thicker plot in the regular season that’s no one can predict its conclusion.

“For example the past seasons there was always a team like Khimki that was always losing games and that was raising the threshold for the playoffs,” Messina said.

“Now I have no idea. Anything can happen and we’ll see. very very competitive for sure.”