On the eve of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four tip-off, Euroleague title sponsor Turkish Airlines hosted its fourth annual Turkish Airlines Gala Dinner on Thursday night. Held in the Berlin’s extraordinary AXICA, an exclusive congress and convention center, the festive event celebrated the 2016 Final Four and the four teams that will compete for the Euroleague crown this weekend.
Among the many distinguished guests in attendance were Turkish Airlines and Euroleague Basketball stakeholders, executives from nearly all Euroleague teams as well as the Final Four Ambassadors Theo Papaloukas, Ramunas Siskauskas, Nikola Vujcic, Matjaz Smodis, Ibrahim Kutluay, Joe Arlauckas and Patrick Femerling.
“Basketball is on aggregate the second biggest sport in the European market, but with added characteristics such as agility and ability to adapt, and deep-rooted penetration into Europe’s top media markets. And in leading the whole basketball movement, Euroleague constitutes itself as the golden standard of the sport and that makes Turkish Airlines a leading actor in European sport revolution,” Senior Vice President at Turkish Airlines, Mr. Ziya Taskent, said in welcoming the guests to the Gala. “The exciting final tournament of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague will start tomorrow, and the four best European teams in basketball will meet each other. That’s why we are in Berlin, a city which we hold close to our hearts at Turkish Airlines as we celebrate 43 years since our first flight here. I want to thank you for being here with us, we really appreciate it.”
President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball Jordi Bertomeu thanked Turkish Airlines for the great contribution to Euroleague Basketball, an ongoing partnership that was established more than half a decade ago and goes well beyond just basketball.
“The words Mr. Taskent confirm how proud we are in our relationship, our partnership with Turkish Airlines. How much we are enjoying the relationship, because this partnership is about being together, is about to help each other, to understand each other’s needs. It is about going beyond the contract, about building relationship. And that’s what has been done in the last six years, and I am sure it will be done in many years to come”, Mr. Bertomeu said. “Turkish Airlines is a very competitive company; it is a leading company in its sector. And we at Euroleague want to hold the same standard. We hope to be and we want to be innovative as Turkish Airlines, and of course, we are a leading company in our sector. And in this context we have to understand why we are launching the new concept of the Euroleague, why Euroleague will become a European basketball league beginning next October. We launch this new competition in which our fans will enjoy the best teams playing each other week after week for six months. We are delivering the top quality of European basketball to our fans, who as we know, are the center of all our decisions. It is a very challenging adventure, it is an amazing trip. You have to fly very high, and you have very high expectations as well. And we hope we will have this trip together, and we will enjoy it together.”
The retied basketball greats and other distinguished guests had the chance to connect and see the other side of the Final Four and enjoy great company, first-class Turkish-influenced cuisine, and all in a stunning interior designed by world famous architect Frank O. Gehry.
A few former Euroleague champions who know a thing or two about winning also spoke to the guests at the Gala Dinner.
“I want to welcome you all to Berlin, my elected hometown. It is a great city to host the Final Four, which is the end of a long road,” said Patrick Femerling, who went on to remember the 2003 Final Four when he won the title wearing FC Barcelona uniform. “I only have snippets of memory. One of them is running down the tunnel and coming out to the gym, with 16,000 people in Palau Saint Jordi in Barcelona, cheering for us, cheering against us. The next big memory is all of jumping on each other, cheering like the kids. It was really exciting lifting that trophy. It was a while ago, but luckily we are not forgotten, we are still involved, and we are fortunately part of the Euroleague family. Thanks to Turkish Airlines for making this possible.”
Joe Arlauckas, who won the Euroleague title with Real Madrid in 1995, acknowledge how happy and proud he is to be part of the Final Four, which is an event that has a meaning larger than just crowning Europe’s basketball champion. “Us, the legends or however you want to call us, as the time goes on we realize that competition is gone, and we become friends. And I want to personally want to thank Jordi Bertomeu and the Euroleague for counting on us as former players to be a part of this. It is really important for us, really important for me personally. It is something I wanted to be a part of. And I want to thank the Turkish Airlines for putting out such a great event. Every year it gets better and better, and cooperation between Euroleague getting better every year and Turkish Airlines getting better every year, it is such a wonderful event to come and be a part of. Let’s have a great weekend, good luck to the teams and let the best one win.”