FIBA EuroBasket 2022 hosts Germany and Czech Republic have selected Lithuania and Poland as their respective partner federations for the September 1-18, 2022 event.
The agreements between the National Federations were presented to the FIBA Europe Board on Friday.
First implemented at the 2015 edition of the event with a strong emphasis on assisting in ticket sales, the partnership concept allows each of the tournament hosts to select a partner federation to be drawn into the same group, while respecting the draw seedings.
Following the agreements, Lithuania are guaranteed to go to the group based in Cologne, while Poland will begin their Final Round campaign in Prague.
The President of the German Basketball Federation and FIBA Treasurer Ingo Weiss was delighted with the partnership with the Lithuanian counterparts.
"Lithuania is, without doubt, one of the most traditional basketball federations in the world. The enthusiasm for basketball in the country is huge, the colorful and loud fans are popular and well known in arenas around the world," he stated.
"We have had a friendly relationship with the Lithuanian Basketball Federation at various levels for many years. All of this motivated us to enter a partnership with the Lithuanian Basketball Federation for the Group Phase of EuroBasket 2022 in Cologne. We will fill the partnership with a lot of life. The green and yellow colors of the Lithuanian fans and the thousands of German fans in black, red and gold will look great in the LANXESS Arena."
Arvydas Sabonis, the President of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, shared similar sentiments.
"We are glad that an agreement has been reached with the German Basketball Federation and that our national team will play the FIBA EuroBasket group games Cologne," he said.
"We hope that by then fans will be allowed to return to the arenas and there will be no restrictions. The conditions in Cologne and Germany are really good and favorable to our fans, as the trip to Germany is convenient. As mentioned, we hope that fans will be able to travel freely and the national team will have strong support and, together with the German Basketball Federation, we will be able to create a great event for all spectators."
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Czech Basketball Federation Michal Konecny expressed his excitement about their partnership with the Polish Basketball Federation.
"It's really important for all the hosts to choose a partner federation for the Group Phase. There are three criteria that we discussed – marketing, sports and ticketing. Poland was the first choice in every criterion for us after discussion with our team and marketing partners," he explained.
"We know Polish fans are one of the best in Europe, they follow the national team in away games and support it with a noisy atmosphere. We are pleased that Poland accepted our offer and we're looking forward to welcoming the Polish team and fans in Prague."
The agreement, which will see Poland play the Group Phase in the neighboring Czech Republic, was met with joy from the President of the Polish Basketball Federation, Radoslaw Piesiewicz.
"We would like to thank the Czech Basketball Federation for the proposal to be their partner at the FIBA EuroBasket 2022. Over the years, our relations have been exemplary and I am therefore glad that today we can announce our cooperation," he stated.
"In recent years, the Polish national team played its most important games far from our country. Mike Taylor's players played the last EuroBasket tournaments in France or Finland, and the World Cup was held in distant China. That is why we did not think long about the offer from the Czechs. I am very happy that Polish fans will be able to cheer for our basketball players in Prague."
FIBA Executive Director Europe Kamil Novak welcomed the announcement of the partnership agreements and underlined their importance both to the hosts and FIBA.
"The partnership agreements have been integral in making past FIBA EuroBasket tournaments a success and we're happy to continue this tradition," said Mr. Novak.
"By giving each of the hosts a chance to choose a partner, of course, while respecting the draw seedings, we are making sure as many fans as possible can take part in the event. We hope to see many Lithuanian and Polish supporters follow their national teams and contribute to making the Group Phase of the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 a celebration of basketball in Cologne and Prague.
"We are also looking forward with great enthusiasm to see the remaining partnerships announced soon."
The partner federations for the two other FIBA EuroBasket 2022 hosts, Italy and Georgia, will be confirmed at a later stage.