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Gibraltar, Unicaja's back-up home for Eurocup matches

The international airport is a logistical advantage.
The international airport is a logistical advantage. / EFE
  • All clubs playing in Europe face sanctions if they cannot provide an alternative venue should pandemic restrictions prevent the visiting team arriving

With the start of the domestic and European basketball seasons just around the corner, the upsurge in the pandemic in Europe, but especially Spain, is causing great uncertainty.

While the domestic ACB league is largely unaffected at present, in the case of European competition there are serious doubts. That said, the Euroleague is determined to start the season and last Thursday warned clubs that they face strong sanctions if they do not do everything possible to organise and play their matches.

Among the obligations for participating clubs in the Euroleague and the Eurocup (in which Malaga-based Unicaja will compete) is to find an alternative country and venue for games should travel restrictions stop visiting teams from arriving. The host team would also have to foot the bill.

In the case of Unicaja they have found a close and feasible solution with an international airport: Gibraltar. Such an arrangement has already been sounded out; Gibraltar plays in minor FIBA competitions and has a court approved for international matches. The president of the Gibraltar Federation, John Goncalves, confirmed to Unicaja that they have the court at their disposal if needed throughout the season.

In the group phase of the Eurocup, Unicaja will be facing a team that comes from a country that has limited the transit of travellers to Spain, Buducnost of Montenegro. What's more, Ratiopharm ULM would, in theory, have to quarantine on their return to Germany, something that could be replaced by a coronavirus test.

In contrast, it would seem that Unicaja will have problems travelling to play Maccabi Rishon, as Israel has closed its borders and this week decreed a new lockdown of its population. For their part, the Israeli team has said that it would pull out of the competition altogether.