Antonio Martín, President of the ACB, attended the media at the event that the Association of Basketball Clubs wanted to render to Eduardo Portela, one of the most important people in the history of Spanish basketball and specifically of the League itself, of the who was one of its founders and President for 21 years. Martín spoke about the league season, how the last matchday will be presented, with the fight for relegation more exciting than ever, the playoff for the title and, of course, the Final Four of the Euroleague where Barça and Real Madrid.
– What does the figure of Eduardo Portela mean for the ACB?
– A capital figure for all the years he has been, for everything he has done and for how he has done it. This tribute was and is fair because the world of basketball recognizes his career for me was basic. He is Honorary President, I live with him and it is not what he has done, what he does to me sheds a lot of light on many things. Being in the chair that he has occupied for so long is almost a challenge, trying to do the things that he has done for the ACB. People sometimes have a short memory and sometimes we forget everything he has done. And I don’t want it to be forgotten.
– After Covid, having the stands empty, has the most difficult thing been overcome?
– I represent 18 teams, that is a bit of the work that the executive does. I think you are aware that we know first-hand what the pandemic has been and what has affected each club. Seeing the public again and feeling that support again… Perhaps the worst moment where we felt it was in Granada, in the Copa del Rey, but it has been holding up now. For us it’s not that it’s important, it’s that the reason for doing everything we clubs and the ACB do is for the fans. If the fans are not there, then there is little point in this. Seeing them again is not only a reason for joy, but to return to normality, to the naturalness of all this.
– The Champions League has been won and a team will be in the Euroleague final. Success of Spanish basketball?
– What it indicates is that the sporting competition is brutal, it has a brutal level of demand, the formation of the squad made by the 18 teams is very powerful and when they arrive in Europe there are the results. In the end it is a very strong league, with a very powerful presence and that translates, sportingly at least, into that final dispute in European competitions. Sometimes we forget the effort that many clubs make to maintain both the first team part and the academy part, which is not seen. Teams with small budgets but with very powerful academies make a lot of effort, which are the ones that ultimately give us results. Not only in winter basketball, as I say, but also in summer. In that you know that the President of the FEB and I agree 100%.
– It’s going to be a great match between Barça and Real Madrid next week.
– It’s a great match, there’s no doubt about it. Not only because of what a Clásico means in itself and because of the dispute over a title that is being played out, but because the two teams arrive at a time when they have had doubts, so to speak. They are very long seasons and many people expect the teams to maintain a stable line throughout the year and that is very difficult. But I have the impression when I see the two who arrive at the moment of saying ‘now we are going to die’, in the best sense of the word, ‘to compete to the death’. I think it will be a very nice game.
– Saturday is the last day of the League. How do you see things going downhill?
– This should not be said by a President, but we never won. I know that it is very nice, that the competition is very much alive. The fact that there is a last day with everything to decide in such a dramatic situation, the relegation, the loss of a place in the ACB, makes the competition alive. It indicates, somewhat both by the number of victories and by the closeness of those at the top with those at the bottom, that the competition is increasingly even. But on a personal level I don’t like it at all because I have a really bad time. And because I know the enthusiasm that goes into each project, what they have staked, and anything that happens is not going to do me any good.
– Do you think the Euroleague semifinal is going to be an advanced final of the ACB playoff?
– I don’t know, I think that today making guesses about it is more complicated. Even at the bottom of the table I’m sure that those of us who have been here two months ago, if we had made a pool, I’m sure I would have failed. In theory there is a lot of script that these two teams are the possible final, but then things happen that have already happened to us. The most brutal example I think was in the final phase of Valencia, where let’s say that Baskonia was not at its best. They focused on competing and there it is. For me, the state of mind of a team’s competition marks a lot and we will see how it goes. Because before the final playoff there are some quarterfinal and semifinal playoffs that are not going to be easy at all.