- AEK Leaves Eurocup, Joins FIBA Champions League -
AEK BC has decided to play in next year’s FIBA Champions League. The Greek club originally chose the Euroleague’s 2nd tier competition (Eurocup), however, due to heavy pressure from the Hellenic Basketball Federation (and FIBA), AEK will compete in FIBA’s new competition.
The battle between the Euroleague and FIBA has been a constant topic in European basketball over the summer. The two went to court with the Euroleague initially winning the case, but FIBA’s appeal was accepted by the courts. This allowed FIBA to impose sanctions on club teams that chose to compete in the Euroleague’s 2nd tier competition (Eurocup) rather than FIBA’s new competition, the Champions League. AEK had announced that they will compete in the Eurocup which caused tension between the club and the Hellenic Basketball Federation (EOK), who supported FIBA. FIBA pressured EOK to impose sanctions on the club including their removal from all domestic competitions (Greek A1 Basket League and Greek Basketball Cup), the inability to make signings, and others.
These consequences have left AEK no choice but to compete in FIBA’s competition. The administration felt that the club’s future and success was the first priority, leading to this decision.
Like AEK, many teams in Europe originally announced to compete in the Eurocup. FIBA’s stern stance on the matter (and federations imposing sanctions on the teams) has forced these clubs to switch to the Champions League, including the Italian teams and most recently Partizan from Serbia. The Eurocup’s regular season groups and schedule that was announced earlier in the summer will drastically change with the removal of these teams (including AEK).
AEK will join PAOK and Aris in the FIBA Champions League after the two teams from Thessaloniki originally sided with FIBA at the beginning of the summer. The question that remains is if AEK will be granted an automatic spot in the group stages of the competition or if they will have to play in qualifying. AEK will most likely be granted an automatic spot in the group stage since FIBA wanted AEK in their competition from Day 1.
A reminder that the teams competing in the Euroleague will not have sancitons from FIBA, which includes the two Greek giants Olympiacos and Panathinaikos.