September 25, 2013

Chinese and European Basketball Leagues can learn a lot from each other – Euroleague CEO Roser Queralto


This article was first published in the 116th edition (2013 - No. 19) of SLAM China magazine. Here is the original English version of the story.

Real Madrid will become the latest Turkish Airlines Euroleague team to visit China when it faces the Beijing Ducks for an exhibition game on Friday, October 11 at MasterCard Center in Beijing. Among the planned activities for Madrid’s visit will be promotional events with Chinese fans, practices open to local players and coaches and, a charity programme at a local Beijing school of course, visiting some of country's famous sites.

The CEO of the European Champions Cup – Roser Queralto – was in Beijing to officially announce the pre-season game. SLAM caught up with Queralto for a brief interview on the relationship between European and Chinese basketball and the future of the Euroleague in China.

SLAM: How is the Euroleague continuing to build their relationship with China?

Queralto: I think that Chinese and European teams play quite a similar game, and that can strengthen the relations of the two leagues. The Euroleague can learn a lot from Chinese basketball and bring a lot of things to teach here. Now we have a Chinese player – Shang Ping – who is joining the Euroleague club Pananthinaikos too. We also had a Chinese junior team take part in an international junior tournament during the Euroleague Final Four last year.

SLAM: After Shang Ping, do you think more Chinese players can get a shot at playing basketball for a European team in the future?

Queralto: I think it’s both ways. We are looking for Chinese players to come and play in European, and we also have many players who have been playing in the Euroleague that will play here in China. This year, Bobby Brown – who was the leading scorer in Euroleague last season [with Montepaschi Siena] will be playing for the Dongguan Leopards in China. So it’s not only one way. We think that European and Chinese basketball are quiet similar in the playing styles, so we feel that we can exchange more players.

SLAM: A lot of the big Euroleague games are broadcast live in China. Are there plans from the Euroleague to broadcast more games in China?

Queralto: Exactly. This is the plan: we are looking forward to more games, to more television shows and in more territories. We are happy to say that the Euroleague Final Four has been broadcast live on CCTV 5 for many years, but we also have games on other channels like Let TV. So, looking ahead, not only the Final Four will be broadcast, but throughout the season, we will show games weekly.

SLAM: Chinese basketball fans of course have a great connection with their local teams – like the Ducks in Beijing – and a lot of fans over the years have also found a an identity with NBA teams. How do you hope to build the same type of connection for Chinese fans with Real Madrid or other big European clubs?

Queralto: We know that there is much to be done and we are approaching it step by step to do it the right way. We think that one of the ways that we can do that is by bringing Chinese fans to Euroleague games, whether it’s overseas, or whether we can bring more and more teams co China. This year, we will have Real Madrid, but in the future we may have two or three teams coming every year so that the fans get to know more about them. Another thing that we are doing is that we are creating several television pieces which can be broadcast during the games in which we explain a little bit about what the teams are, when they started to play, who are their main stars, etc. So we’re trying to explain to people what each of the Euroleague teams is all about.

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