Players react to season cancellation – News

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The news that the 2019-20 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague has been cancelled affected a lot of people, but perhaps none more than the players whose skill and effort had attracted record audiences to the competition this season. As such, their reactions to the unfortunate news was predictably disappointed even as they looked ahead to what they promise will be an exciting return to action next season.


Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul

Andrea Cinciarini, AX Armani Exchange Milan

The cancellation decision

“I think to stop and cancel the season is the right choice that the EuroLeague made. Because this virus now is really different in all the countries where the teams of EuroLeague are. So it’s difficult to restart, especially after two months where we stay at home and don’t have the possibility to move and take care of our bodies. This is the most important thing, especially for the players that are usually happy to practice every day.”

Protecting the players’ health and the competition’s integrity

“The EuroLeague is the best basketball in Europe, so to have maybe a lot of injuries, maybe players that didn’t come back, is no good for the system. This is one of the situations that we as players decided to tell the league. The other thing is integrity. Integrity for me is not only physical but also mental. Imagine staying two months closed in the house, and then another 25 days in a city to play EuroLeague games, and then for sure you would have to [quarantine] another 14 days when you come back to your country because you have stayed in another country. There would be different situations and scenarios about mental toughness.”

Missing the game

“I just made a post on Instagram talking about another bad thing: from the last game to the next game will be six months. It’s amazing, like a bad, bad injury that arrived to every player. A lot of players miss the atmosphere, for example in Milan at the Forum. When I come back and touched the ball for the first time after 65 days, I was so happy because, for a lot of players, basketball is life, is passion. So to touch again a ball, to restart, to play and make yourself happy is the best thing. Then you think about the game, about feeling happy and free of mental worry. Usually, when you are playing, you don’t have to worry. But in this case, if you thinking, ‘What if touch this player, maybe I get COVID?’ then it becomes really difficult to play with your instinct and let your emotions go.”

Message to fans

“The message is very clear. We will come back, stronger and stronger, everybody: the players, society, the EuroLeague and the fans. For me, it can be a big, big party when everybody comes back to the game, all the players and all the fans, so the atmosphere of the EuroLeague can be realistic.”

Staying connected

“I use only Instagram as social media. A lot of fans of Milano write to me and talk about the situation, ask if we talk as teammates, how is the situation, when are we coming back, I miss the Forum, I miss you guys. So it’s important to stay connected with the fans on social media because they have to know and hear that everything will be OK in some months. We don’t really know what will happen in September, October, November. Nobody knows. But, we hope that everything will be OK and everybody can come back to the Forum to see a game.”

Peyton Siva, ALBA Berlin

Branko Lazic, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade

The cancellation decision

“Everybody wanted to finish the season on the court, not like this, sitting behind tables and everything. But this situation is like that. Not only in some countries that are faced with problems, but the whole world. As much as we wanted to play, to keep going, to do our job, it is better like this, to cancel the season and to wait until the situation gets better and for us to prepare better for the next season.

Respecting fairness

“Many of us didn’t have a chance to practice. Only a few teams had a chance to practice, possibilities to practice, so I think this is the best solution. It wouldn’t be fair that somebody during the break had a chance to practice while everybody else was at home. So, this is much better.”

Waiting to play

“Everybody is faced now with a forced break and the cancelled season. So we have to wait longer than usual for the game to start and see the fans inside… I am hoping the situation will be much better, so the crowd can come to the gym and make the atmosphere that everybody already knows.

Staying united

“Everybody now is faced with the same problems. Not only professional sports players, but everybody in the world. So we have to stay united and to fight with this virus… Only like that we can make the time shorter until we meet again.”

Fan connection

“That’s very important stuff, especially here because we all know how many fans we have. We have millions of fans here in Serbia, in Europe, and around the world. So, it is important to stay connected, keep the connection, and support each other until the games start and until we can fight together.”

Next season

“We had a two-month break, and now with the virus situation here in Serbia under control, we have more time to prepare, to be mostly prepared for the next season. So for sure, it will be a very good season. Everybody can get prepared, solve the problems with injuries, rest, and use the time for preparation. Like my teammate Billy Baron tweeted, it is going to be fire.”

Kyle Hines, CSKA Moscow

Paulius Jankunas, Zalgiris Kaunas

Scottie Wilbekin, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv

Bojan Dubljevic, Valencia Basket

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