Victor Wembanyama saves the winter FIBA Windows

2022-11-11T11:42:26+00:00 2022-11-16T18:05:34+00:00.

Aris Barkas

11/Nov/22 11:42

The presence of the biggest NBA prospect in 20 years is the saving grace of the upcoming FIBA qualifiers in Europe

By Aris Barkas/

Victor Wembanyama is taking the basketball world by storm and before getting drafted, he is also saving the November and February FIBA Windows in Europe, giving more than local interest to the qualifiers.

It’s well-documented how the FIBA windows help the sport in underdeveloped basketball countries. Fans are flocking to see their national teams playing in their country and Eurobasket winner Sergio Scariolo explained how he used the windows for building the new version of the Spanish national team. Meanwhile in FIBA zones, where the NBA players missing are not that many, the national team qualifiers are a roaring success.

However, there are huge concerns during the winter FIBA Windows about the potential burden that EuroLeague players, coaches, and clubs must suffer, as highlighted by coaches Dimitris Itoudis, Giorgos Bartzokas, and Zeljko Obradovic.

And while all three are EuroLeague coaches with Itoudis having a double role as also the head coach of the Greek national team, even German national team coach Gordon Herbert who doesn’t have any EuroLeague connection talked about the fact that maybe one window during the winter accompanied by a “real break” of action in the EuroLeague would be enough.

Meanwhile, we have the example of the rescheduled EuroLeague game (9/11) between Milan and Virtus in order to accommodate better for everyone involved the national team game between Italy and Spain (11/11). It remains to be seen if it’s just a unique case or a sign of things to happen since at this point there are talks but not any kind of deal between EuroLeague and FIBA on the issue.

This change was made because of the will of both Milan and Virtus and of course, the presence of Sergio Scariolo on the bench of both Virtus and the national team of Spain played a huge role in that.

However, this is just the small picture.

This summer European basketball enjoyed its best-ever Eurobasket and FIBA qualifiers in terms of global interest. The presence of Giannis, Doncic, and Jokic made all the difference.

The national teams were the vehicle and not the focal point. Everyone loves their national teams and also loves winning. But the metrics say the truth and people want to see the biggest stars.

Greece played against Belgium in the capital city of Athens on a sold-out 18.000 seat arena with US media being present. Just two months later, the national team will play again in a sold-out arena, but on the island of Crete with a 5.000 capacity against Latvia, in a game that outside the two countries has minimal appeal.

That wouldn’t be the case if that was a duel between Giannis and Porzingis.

So it’s as simple as that. The recent Eurobasket proved the importance of NBA players competing for their national teams and provided a blueprint for making basketball mainstream all over the world by taking advantage of the NBA’s popularity.

And that should be ultimately the goal, to make the sport mainstream and put it once and for all in 18.000 seat arenas.

That’s why especially outside Europe, the news of the November window is centered only on Victor Wembanyama. His debut with the French national team in the game against Lithuania will make headlines all over the world and in the biggest basketball markets on the planet.

At this point, the rest is just noise…