By Lefteris Moutis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Euroleague announced a few days ago the schedule of the last round of the Top 16 and it was confirmed that once again all games will not start at the same time in order to avoid the possibility of “fixing”. Half of the teams can pick their opponents in the playoffs. Do you agree with the decision of the governing body?
For yet another year the Euroleague does not make sure to protect their product. They allow for the tournament to fall prey to the appetites of teams that want to pick their opponent in the knock out rounds in order to make their way to the Final Four in Madrid easier. For the last years the Euroleague does not set the same time and day for all the games of the last round of the regular season and the Top16, which results in whispers about ‘strange results’ and deliberate defeats. Let’s take a look at the arguments on both sides together with next week’s comprehensive schedule.
All games to start at the same time
If then, the Euroleague decides not to change the schedule they have already anounced, many teams can pick their opponents in the knock out games. The two games that will decide the last two favourable spots in the fifth group take place with a 45-minute interval! The Alba-Maccabi game starts at 20:00 CET and the game in Belgrade between Crvena Zvezda and Panathinaikos at 20:45! For example, the Greens might qualify before they even finish their game… Also, in the same group, Barcelona is hosted by Galatasaray on Friday at 19:00 and later in the evening Real hosts Zalgiris. If the Catalns win, the queen (in the last game of the Top 16) can decide whether she wants to confront the third or fourth place team from the 6th Group. The same applies for many other teams as well. CSSKA for instance will know the result of the Fenebahce-Efes game and will be able to ‘decide’ who they would prefer crossing paths with in the quarterfinals.
The schedule remains as is because the sport is clean
Jordi Bertomeu’s opinion and his constant response to the requests of many of the parties involved to set all the games of the last round at the same time and day, is: ‘We trust the teams, who in every game aim for the win. The teams are trustworthy and no one wants to lose’. Any other argument that would claim that the schedule should stay as it is, we really cannot find.
Our conclusion: Cesar’s wife has to look and be honest…
The situation is not new this year and it did not come up for the first time at the Top 16. For years now several ‘strange’ results have been recorded during the last group stage. For example, who can forget Real’s defeat from Zalgiris last year? So there is no real reason why the Euroleague does not follow the common practice of all the Leagues that respect the game, dispel conspiracy theories and stave off any possible second thoughts regarding ‘deliberate defeats’. Also, there is no apparent excuse in regards to marketing, because no television channel wants to broadcast games where there are any suspicions that a team wants to lose. Sometimes, what is obvious goes without saying.