“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four. We could not have asked for a better setting for this first official event of the Final Four than Ciragan Palace and the city of Istanbul. To begin, I would like to thank our main partner Turkish Airlines and its president, my friend Mr. Ilker Ayci, for showing from day one their great determination to bring the Final Four here, and for the commitment, enthusiasm and collaboration that they have given us every step of the way. And thanks also to the Turkish Basketball Federation and its president, Mr. Hedo Turkoglu; as well as the Municipality of Istanbul. Both have been extremely helpful in delivering a first-class event to our fans and our partners.
“We return to a magical place. Magical because Istanbul is a city with a distinct aroma and a unique blend of cultures that always welcomes the visitor with a smile. It's also a city where one can breathe in the great passion for basketball that is only comparable to the passion found in the biggest basketball capitals of Europe. This weekend is magical because it culminates a season in which basketball has been once more a sports pioneer, breaking barriers and creating, for the first time ever in professional sports, a true European league, our EuroLeague. And here, in Istanbul, the first champion of that new era in European basketball, will be crowned.
“In all honesty, this weekend is not merely the finishing touch of this first season in the new EuroLeague. It also culminates a five-year trip that started back in 2011 with the vision of the clubs to make this European league a reality. Along the way, the clubs have shown the determination and the commitment to work together on a common project to bring pro sports to a new level. I cannot fail to mention WME | IMG, our partner on this journey. IMG has allowed this project to become a reality and has shown itself to be the best partner that we could have imagined five years ago. As always, in this process the fans have been the focus of all our discussions and decisions. We are proud and thankful for their response towards this new league, whose growth levels are never seen before in terms of both quantity and quality. As an example, this Final Four will be watched on TV in 213 countries, which is another EuroLeague record.
“This change has gone hand in hand with a clear and well-defined global vision for the future of professional competitions in Europe, with a revised and reinforced 7DAYS EuroCup, whose place in this project must become bigger year after year. We have enjoyed six months of an excellent regular season, in a round robin format, and a great series of playoffs, preparing this Final Four. This is THE format, and it's here to stay, regardless how many teams we will have in future expansion, even if very soon we will start looking forward, looking for new challenges and asking ourselves: 'What comes next?', the format will stay.
“Before giving the floor to Mr. Ayci and Mr. Turkoglu and, of course, the true protagonists – the players and the coaches – I would also like to thank the partners that are constantly at our side. Our broadcasting partners, who work day by day to offer the fans the best on-screen experience on any device; our marketing partners and sponsors, who keep trusting Euroleague Basketball to connect with the fans in a variety of ways; our media partners, who help us multiply the distribution and the impact of the competition in the most relevant manner for the fans. Thanks to our legends: our success belongs to you, as well. Thanks for everything you did in the last 16 years. And of course, thanks to our players and coaches, our referees: all of them have made this 2016-17 season, the best ever.
“I hope that you enjoy the games that the best four teams in the continent will offer us this weekend, and also everything else that will come around the Turkish Airlines Final Four, like the Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT, the FanZone at the Marmara Forum, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Awards Ceremony, which will take place here, and the International Symposium on Basketball Science. Many thanks to all of you for your continuing support and good luck to the four teams.”