The basketball players took centre stage during the presentation of the 2017-18 season held this Monday in Madrid. As has become an annual tradition in recent years, the Auditorium at Endesa’s headquarters in Madrid was once again the venue for this event, hosted by the presenter Luis Larrodera and the singer Soraya Arnelas, who launched the event with a performance before handing over to Alberto Fernández Torres, General Director of Communication at Endesa.
“This is the first public event of this new stage we are entering into with ACB. Four more years, with even more excitement than last season and convinced that, at the end of this season, we will have even more reasons to continue. It is a great honour to form part of the second-best league in the world. We are delighted and extremely grateful to be a part of Spanish basketball”, he emphasized during his speech.
After connecting with Milena Martín to find out more about the ins and outs backstage, it was time for the representatives of each of the 18 clubs taking part in this Liga Endesa 2017-18 to take to the stage. The first to appear were Henk Norel and Sebas Saiz, representing the recently promoted Gipuzkoa Basket and San Pablo Burgos.
“Life is great in San Sebastián and I am adapting really well… I am even learning Basque! We can't wait to start competing and competing well", the Dutch player said, while the Spanish international player talked about the atmosphere in Burgos before their debut: "The excitement of the entire city is incredible, we have 8,000 ticket holders and you can really tell! I want to establish myself as a good player in the Liga Endesa. I am enthusiastic and ambitious”.
The next block of players to take to the stage was made up of Nacho Llovet (Monbus Obradoiro), Sergi García (Tecnyconta Zaragoza), José Nogués (Divina Seguros Joventut) and Saúl Blanco (Real Betis Energía Plus). Llovet has a clear target: “The aim is to suffer a little less than last year, but if we have to suffer, let it be for something less ambitious. Each time I hear the Miudiño (a Galician song) I get goose bumps, it is incredible. It is something everyone should experience”. In turn, Sergi García, doesn’t want to hear about limits: “We shouldn’t set targets in the Liga, we should just learn and enjoy. If things go well, we have to dream”.
Another young talent of the future, José Nogués, said he spoke on behalf of his colleagues when confessing how excited they are at the start of the league. “We want to continue to grow as a club, taking in people from the youth academy and we want fans to be proud of what we represent". Lastly, Saúl Blanco also mentioned the fans: “Basketball is so popular in Seville, and Betis has a huge following that simply has to be experienced. Our fans are so excited and we will do everything possible for this team to go as far as it possibly can. We want to have a good time and for others to enjoy our basketball".
It was time to connect with the central studios of the basketball programme ‘Colgados del Aro’ with Iturriaga and Daimiel who gave us a glimpse of what the new season will bring. “We will introduce a little basketball spin and also discuss the past", apart from announcing new debates, special Liga Endesa content and possible new rowdy celebrations after the celebration enjoyed by the stars of ‘La Vida Moderna’.
The third round of teams brought to the stage Christian Eyenga (Montakit Fuenlabrada), Nik Caner-Medley (Movistar Estudiantes), Álex Mumbrú (RETAbet Bilbao Basket) and Vitor Faverani (UCAM Murcia). The first to take to the floor was the Congolese player, who spoke of how excited he was to play in Spain this season. “I wanted to be in the Liga Endesa to play against such great players. Montakit Fuenlabrada is a team that is always there; a team that has believed in me and I love the club and the fans. It is also great to have a trainer that is so involved with the players, for me that is incredible”.
On his return to the collegiate club, Caner-Medley said: “For me the Liga Endesa is my second home. I am so at home in Spain and I get on so well with so many people. This club is special because of my fellow players and the fans; the club is 70 years old. I am so proud to form part of that. I will be a leader in the changing room because of my experience”. In turn, Mumbrú remembered how he took on his new colleague, Kempton’s father, before revealing who could be, in his opinion, one of the surprises of the new season. “I am very happy in Bilbao. One of the surprises in my team is going to be Redivo, he is electric and does incredible things on the court”.
Faverani, who closed the block, said he was starting the season with great enthusiasm. “I think we can win the first game. On a personal level, I am three or four weeks ahead of my injury recovery timetable. We have a very talented and physically strong team and if we all work together, this could be a good year for us".
At this point, David Carnicero, Nikola Loncar and Amaya Valdemoro, the voices of Movistar+ took to the floor in a video to explain the extensive coverage that fans will be able to enjoy this season. “This season, Clubbers is going to be at more courts than ever, so the players, trainers and fans can tell us basketball stories”, said Carnicero before reminding everyone of the extensive guaranteed coverage, beginning this Friday (21:00, #0 / MD1), with the FC Barcelona Lassa-Baskonia game.
It was then time to welcome the representatives of the four finalists from the previous Liga Endesa, represented by Jaime Fernández (MoraBanc Andorra), Anzejs Pasecniks (Herbalife Gran Canaria), Juan Carlos Navarro (FC Barcelona Lassa) and Javier Beirán (Iberostar Tenerife). Navarro began by talking about the bronze obtained in his farewell from the Spanish national team, already focusing on the new term: "This is a very exciting season, we want to change the dynamics of recent years. Things have improved, we have signed up great players and we will try to win titles. We want to make the people of Palau proud”.
Javier Beirán, who received an ovation for winning the recent Intercontinental Cup, explained that it was the best way to start: “This gives us energy to start the Liga Endesa. Hopefully we will always be competing for the top positions. Our aim must be to establish ourselves as one of the eight best teams. Almost 10 months later, I am fully recovered and I can't wait to start enjoying myself as I did before".
Representing Herbalife Gran Canaria, Pasecniks, admitted that he likes being compared with Porzingis, although his only horizon at the moment is to continue wearing the yellow jersey: “I like the style of play, the weather, the city... We have proved that we can play well in recent games. And, since we were not able to win the Supercopa Endesa, this year the Copa del Rey will be held at home so we hope to be able to win it". Jaime Fernández closed the block by revealing his new target in the Andorra team: “The club has a very positive attitude and I am excited to form part of the project and I hope it will be a great year for everyone. We are going all out without establishing limits. We are not afraid: it would be great to play the Copa and Playoff”.
In terms of the semi-finalists, the star of Unicaja, Nemanja Nedovic stated: “We are very happy with the team we have formed. It is going to be a fierce season with Euroliga and I hope we have a great year. Singing up McCallum was a great decision, he is playing incredibly well and makes life easy for all of us”. This was followed by an old face returning to the Liga Endesa, Jayson Granger, who talked about his prospects with Baskonia: “I am back in Spain after two years. I couldn’t wait to get back and I hope to continue to develop and learn from Huertas and Prigioni, who is a friendly, yet strict trainer. We want to win the Liga Endesa; we want to regain that Prigioni and Scola era and go far".
Two important players, Felipe Reyes and Joan Sastre, completed the round of speeches by the basketball stars. The Real Madrid player reminded everyone that “hard work is the key to success. With such a big team, we hope to get to the final in the best condition possible; last year we only just made it. It is tough to lose Llull, particularly for him, but we are Real Madrid and the rest of us will do the best we can. Doncic? The kid is great. But us veterans are here to show him the right way". This was immediately followed by Joan Sastre, one of the men of the moment in the competition, who admitted he is enjoying his finest hour after winning the Liga Endesa, the Supercopa Endesa and the bronze in the last Eurobasket: “It will be hard to better a year like this one, it has just all been so incredible. We will work hard to maintain this almost unbeatable level. This has been such a wonderful year, on a personal level and collectively and I just hope everything can continue this way".
Larrodera then asked Reyes to stay on stage, just as he was about to leave. Juan Carlos Navarro and Álex Mumbrú were also called on stage. The tribute for their 20 seasons in the Liga Endesa was served, with the Endesa 2017 Award for their values, professionalism and leadership in their hands.
Eduardo Portela, Honorary Chair of the ACB, Alberto Fernández Torres, General Director of Communication at Endesa and José Ramón Lete, the Secretary of State for Sport, presented the award to the charismatic players, Reyes, Mumbrú and Navarro. “It is an honour to have the level of sports personalities on stage today. Twenty years is nothing and I hope we will be able to enjoy you all for a few more years, said Ramón Lete, before sharing a message of optimism and union for the future: “It has been an intense few weeks on the courts and I hope behind the scenes we are able to match the players’ achievements. I want us to be brave. United we are stronger”.
“Thank you to everyone involved for making this league one of the best in the world and thank you to Endesa for this strategic partnership”, he concluded before Luis Larrodera and Soraya closed the event, which was followed by a group photograph session and the relevant round of statements. The show kicks off on Friday. The 2017-18 Liga Endesa season is officially here!