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31 августа 2010 10:27
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What to do with the World Championships?

It’s no secret that many star players who usually display their talents in international competitions and give their all to their respective countries do not play in the World Championship this year because they are either injured or recovering from injuries. This obvious fact once again brings up old question – is this really an appropriate time of year to stage major basketball events?

To be honest, I’d rather prefer those tournaments to be held right after the season, in the end of June or in early July. I’m talking about Eurobasket and World Championship here, Olympic basketball tournaments are, of course, a different issue.

The solution seems logical for many reasons. For instance, players will know that after the tournament they’ll have a large chunk of summer to rest and recover. And national teams’ coaches will focus more on schemes and team play as opposed to spending vast amounts of time on physical preparation. Four weeks will probably be enough for teams to revise plays and get everybody onboard from the tactical standpoint, so it’s absolutely possible to hold the tournament in the beginning or in the middle of July. And the remaining part of summer will be resting time for players. NBA guys might even have up to 2 months to recover after long season.

Also, this way club coaches will have the opportunity to run normal preseasons for their sides. I’ll give you an example – this year the Worlds conclude on September, 12th. I’ll be forced to call up my international players (and we have 6 of them at Real Madrid) to club duties almost immediately after that, because we play in Spanish Supercup on September, 24th and then on October, 3rd we face Estudiantes in the ACB League season opener. So, there’s no other choice for us but to rush the preparation of guys who will be returning from Turkey as we’ll only have two weeks to get them in sync with the rest of the club.

Moreover, if history is any indication, players who participate in international competitions in September are much more likely to suffer injuries over the course of the following season.

That’s why I think it’ll be much safer to go back to the old schedule and allow clubs which invest a lot of money into players to arrange full-scale preparations with necessary amount of teaching and sufficient number of scrimmages before the start of the official season.

I understand that one of the main reasons behind current timing of major basketball tournaments is that TV-induced desire to avoid clashing with top competitions in other sports, especially football. And yes, from the standpoint of television September is the most suitable time to broadcast basketball. But will it still be worth it if biggest stars of our sport continue to withdraw from the tournaments? And if clubs remain deprived of the opportunity to prepare players the right way during the offseason? Let’s just say I really hope this matter will be looked at closely sometime in the near future.

Another factor that somewhat diminishes the glamour of World Championships is that only the winner qualifies for the Olympics. And make no mistake here – Olympic tournament remains the highest-rated and most prestigious international basketball event. Just look how players flock to participate in Eurobaskets where those Olympic spots are filled. That’s why I believe we have to review several options that could add some importance to the tournament, like decreasing the frequency of the Worlds to once-per-6-years or making its final standings more valuable in terms of qualifying for other competitions.

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