Before all others

Abeer Anwar , Tuesday 30 Nov 2021

The next edition of the FIBA International Cup will be held in Egypt, the first African country bestowed the honour, reports Abeer Anwar

NBA representative handing Sobhi the NBA official shirt

Setting a new landmark, the next edition of the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Intercontinental Cup, which started 56 years ago, will be held in February 2022 in Cairo.

The event is also the first club competition in basketball history to feature contenders that will be representing four regional leagues.

Egypt’s and Africa’s sole representative will be Zamalek, fresh from being crowned champions of the inaugural Basketball Africa League. Zamalek will reach another milestone by becoming the first African club to compete in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup.

Reigning FIBA Intercontinental Cup champions and Basketball Champions League 2020-21 winners Spanish Hereda San Pablo Burgos are headlining the field of participants, looking to become the first club to win back-to-back Intercontinental Cup trophies since fellow Spaniards Real Madrid achieved the feat in 1977.

Brazil’s Flamengo were crowned Basketball Champions League Americas 2020-21 and will be returning to the Intercontinental Cup after three years, when they reached the final at home in Rio de Janeiro but lost to AEK Athens.

Lakeland Magic, the Orlando Magic affiliate that clinched the NBA G League title in 2020-21, will be making their first appearance in the intercontinental contest, picking up the baton from fellow G League clubs Austin Spurs and Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

“We are very excited and looking forward to this truly historical moment, when the FIBA Intercontinental Cup will finally take place in Africa and will feature an African club,” FIBA Secretary-General Andreas Zagklis said.

“The 2022 event will mark a turning point for the competition and it’s another important step towards fulfilling FIBA’s strategic objective of shaping the landscape of international club competitions,” Zagklis added.

“I am very proud that Egypt is becoming a pioneer country and attracting the eyes of the whole world,” Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi said. “It is hosting a number of international and world events and this is due to the great helping hand given to sports by Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt’s president.”

Sobhi added that Egypt’s sports facilities are meeting international standards “as in almost all sports and that makes Egypt an attractive country for hosting different sports events in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“It is an honour to host such an event and to have a representative in this championship for the first time in its history,” Magdi Abu Freikha, Egyptian Basketball Federation president, said. “We are very proud of Zamalek and we will exert our utmost effort to make the event a success. Such competitions help in spreading the game and attracting more youth to it.

“Organising this competition is a new step towards proving our ability to once again host global events, as we hosted the FIBA U19 World Cup in 2017 and many other international tournaments. We are looking forward to meeting our friends in Cairo and witnessing an historic event together,” Abu Freikha said.

The big event, hosted by the Egyptian Basketball Federation at the Hassan Mustafa Sports Hall in Cairo, will tip off on Friday, 11 February 2022 with two semi-finals and conclude on Sunday 13 February with the final and the third-place game.

The 2022 edition also marks a return to the four-team format that was successfully reinstated in 2019. In 2021 the FIBA Intercontinental Cup was played in a single-game final, as FIBA adapted the format due to the pandemic. The final was held in Buenos Aires and Burgos defeated Argentina’s Quimsa 82-73 to lift the trophy.

Real Madrid are the most successful club in the competition’s history, having won the title on five occasions, the most recent being their 2015 success over Brazil’s Bauru in Sao Paulo.

The draw for the FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2022 will take place early next year.

Egypt has also signed an agreement with the NBA to help in spreading the sport in schools.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 2 December, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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