Guy Harel, CEO/GM of Hapoel Jerusalem spoke at BCL Award Ceremony.
The Season in BCL was good for us, we had a very tough group and did fairly well in that group. In the quarterfinals Tenerife was in better shape, better team and they deserved to win. It was disappointing for us, but we are looking forward to the next year.
Can you summarize the first year in BCL?
– I spoke with many people from other clubs before making the decision. So I pretty much knew what to expect. But, I have to admit, once we joined, it exceeded our expectations. This is a tough competition, well organized, the people from the BCL are very responsive. It was a very good experience, a lot of compliments. We see now the Final Four, in Antwerp, with over 17 thousand people in the arena. It’s more than impressive. It is attractive competition, it’s growing and it will continue to grow.
There were some critics saying Bamberg and Hapoel chose the easier competition?
– First of all I don’t think it’s an easier competition. Bamberg is very respectful club, everybody knows that, AEK also… And those two clubs are not in the finals, and Hapoel and AEK are not even on a Final Four. This is not the reason we joined. It’s a strong competition. Obviously we always look to compete at the highest possible levels, and I think that BCL is already there.
– I really think that the BCL is heading in the right direction to be stronger and bigger. Again, what we saw in Antwerp is a proof of that. Bologna being back on the map is exciting… BCL is attractive enough to be in.
Champion of Israel is not going to the Euroleague. How much does that system influence domestic championship?
– It has a very big influence, of course. Because, winning a championship is a great thing for every club and every organization. But you expect that, after winning a championship, there would be a reward in competing in the highest competition. Euroleague made the decision to be a closed league, for the champions of Israel, Greece, Turkey and other countries, we know the list. We are focusing on winning our league, on trying to reach as high as possible in BCL and win the competitions we are in. That is what we can control. That’s what we do. Obviously for some fans and some other clubs that creates frustration because they feel injustice but that’s the situation, and we will do our best to win the competitions we are a part of.
Is there something the European basketball can do?
– As far as I know, it’s an ongoing battle for so many years at the highest levels. Us, as clubs, we need to focus on doing our best in the leagues we are in. We are happy with the BCL. First we need to get to the Final Four.