Top 10 national championships: the rise of Italy


By Aris Barkas/ barkas@eurohoops.net

Once again, Eurohoops maintains the tradition of ranking domestic leagues in Europe, in a season where, on the other side of the spectrum, there are some interesting developments compared to last season. The pandemic seems to be a thing of the past, but there is an ongoing war in Europe that is sidelining the VTB United League.

With no teams in European competitions, only Russian clubs and many questions about the future, VTB cannot be ranked or compared to other European leagues, becoming an oddity for this season.

After all, it is obvious, with the possible exception of Zenit St. Petersburg, that most Russian teams spend much less money than before and money was after all the main draw of this league.

On the other hand, finally, something is moving in the UK with the BBL scrapping the salary cap and the London Lions signing established players like Kostas Koufos and Sam Dekker. Yet there is still a long way to go and the same goes for the BNXT League experiment which combines the leagues of Belgium and the Netherlands, but so far without really spectacular results.

This makes the Polish Energa Basket Liga appear for the first time in the rankings – since VTB is absent – ​​and more leagues have automatically moved up a place with one exception, Greece, which almost lost a place, while that the Italian Serie A is rapidly approaching the Turkish BSL, even if this short distance is not visible on the classification, which is the following.

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

  1. ACB Liga Endesa – Spain (-)
  2. BSL – Turkey (+1)
  3. Lega Basket Serie A – Italy (+1)
  4. Betclic ELITE ProA – France (+1)
  5. Easy credit BBL -Germany (+1)
  6. Adriatic League (+2)
  7. HEBA Basket League – Greece (-)
  8. Winners League – Israel (+1)
  9. LKL – Lithuania (+1)
  10. Energa Basket Liga – Poland (-)

1. ACB

Spanish basketball is booming at all levels, Eurobasket 2022 is further proof of this and it is also a reflection of the level of the Spanish league. Just think of the number of players who were part of the national team and had significant contributions without having a contract with Barcelona or Real Madrid. That’s pretty much what you need to know about the level of play. And of course the ACB remains a top notch organization compared to all other domestic leagues in Europe and the league features four teams from the EuroLeague this year, double the number of any other country.

2.BSL

Turkey’s economic problems are also reflected in the league BUT Anadolu Efes and Fenerbahce are not really affected. Efes are back-to-back EuroLeague champions, Galatarasay are on the rise, and given the club’s popularity that’s great news for the league, while homegrown powerhouses like Karsiyaka remain steady and ready to challenge everyone. . Yes, Turkey isn’t what it was five years ago, but it’s still one of the best places outside the ACB to play in domestic competitions.

3. Series A

And that brings us to Italy, which finally has two EuroLeague teams in Milan and Virtus Bologna again and is steadily emerging as one of the best places to be. With the absence of VTB and the Turkish middle class no longer having the money they had before, Italy is once again the “fashionable” league with many teams that can be dangerous for anyone. Practically, the league has almost caught up with the BSL. Moreover, it continues to be a stepping stone in the careers of many players who can prove they should have a chance at EuroLeague level after a good season at Italian mid-tier clubs.

4. ProA

France also have two EuroLeague teams in ASVEL and Monaco, which has the money to be a real contender at all levels. Beyond that, it remains a very balanced league that, at least until recently, lacked the ability to generate genuine national interest, as evidenced by last season’s television rights paradox, and has also suffered from the mess of the Orthez project. That said, especially this season, France who consistently provide NBA-level talent have the opportunity to test things and grow, thanks to Victor Wembanyama. The world’s biggest NBA prospect will only compete in the French league this season as a member of the Metropolitans 92, so the league will receive some of its spotlight.

5. BBL

It is also the home of two EuroLeague clubs, Bayern and ALBA, a league with high parity, financially strong and suffering on an even larger scale from the same problem as France. There is enough local interest, but the league’s popularity nationally is still a footnote. As German FA President Ingo Weiss admitted during the Eurobasket 2022 recap press conference: “We have a rule in Germany: first football, second football, third football, fourth football… When we talking about places after 10 a.m., we are still in a small competition with handball, volleyball and ice hockey”.

6. Adriatic League

On the contrary, here the interest is enormous with the return of Partizan and Crvena Zvezda in the EuroLeague, Cedevita-Olimpija increasingly solid and despite the big problems that the organization has to face, as has been evident in the final, it was the only league to leap forward two points. Yes, ABA is profiting from the Partizan vs Crvena Zvezda rivalry, but on the other hand, it has more to do with the Greek League…

7. HEBA

There are also two EuroLeague clubs here, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos, Greece love basketball but things are not rosy. Panathinaikos are still trying to regain their former glories with limited resources, while the league as a whole has a tone of trouble, starting with AEK and the record number of 24 bans the club currently has and ending with a 12-team format for the second consecutive year, meaning fewer clubs than the six leagues above them in the standings. One of the craziest stories of the last year, which hasn’t gotten much coverage outside of Greece, is that Ionikos BC’s main backer suddenly disappeared, and the same thing happened. produced with the money the club provided as collateral to play in the league…

8. Winners League

In theory, not even having Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final last year proved that this league has more to give. And yes, the Hapoel Holon champion is creating his own legacy over the past few years. Yet Israel is the land of Maccabi, interest in basketball is totally tied to homegrown power and the rest of the league remains mostly a farm for American talent to test European waters and step elsewhere. It is also a 12-team league.

9.LKL

As is the case with Maccabi Tel Aviv, this is the land of Zalgiris. And the fact that last year Zalgiris didn’t reach the final as happened with Maccabi, says a lot more about these two main EuroLeague clubs, than anything else. Yet LKL is 30 years old, and they finally got 12 teams for the first time as well, dropping from 11 last year to their number, reigning champions Rytas Vilnius showed real promise for the future, but it’s a country of three million and the local market has an obvious limit, despite their huge love for basketball.

10. Energa Basket Liga

Well, hello Poland! This is the first time this league has been included in the Eurohoops Top 10, the main reason remains the absence of VTB, however, there is more to it. Poland have no team in the EuroLeague – not in the VTB as they did last year – but they have defending champions Slask Wroclaw competing in the EuroCup and runners-up Legia Warszaw in the Basketball Champions League. Moreover, they can take advantage of the interest generated by the Polish national team’s participation in Eurobasket and they host part of Eurobasket 2025. So don’t be surprised if they stay in this Top10 for a long time.