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Euroleague starts this week

More games and bigger arenas will enable Europe’s premier basketball competition to aim for NBA standards, Euroleague chief Jordi Bertomeu has vowed ahead of the new season starting tomorrow.

This month’s warm-up games between Euroleague teams and NBA outfits suggest the gulf between the top sides from Europe and North America has narrowed, with Fenerbahce Istanbul pulling off a shock 97-91 win over 17-times NBA champions Boston Celtics.

Bertomeu, who met with NBA commissioner David Stern in Berlin shortly before local team Alba pushed 2011 champions Dallas Mavericks to the limit in an 89-84 defeat on Saturday, acknowledged that looking up to the NBA and playing against the league’s top contenders has helped Europe to improve.

“These games are an opportunity to work with our NBA friends, share the experience and learn because they have already done many things that we want to do in our evolution as a professional league,” he said.

“We have different models, a different culture and of course different resources but we share the same vision about the importance of improving the game.”

The teams are divided into four groups of six in the preliminary stage and the top four from each section will advance into the last 16, where they will be divided into two groups of eight instead of four groups of four.

The top four teams from each of those groups, operating on a round-robin home and away system like the preliminary stage, will progress into the quarter-finals, whose winners will qualify for the Final Four in London’s O2 Arena from May 10-12.

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