Sat, Oct 11, 2014 - Page 20 News List

SBL All-Stars get ready to take on touring Barcelona

By Paul Huang  /  Contributing reporter

FC Barcelona of Euroleague Basketball are to take on the All-Stars of Taiwan’s Super Basketball League in a much-anticipated match at the Taipei Arena as part of the Euroleague Basketball Asia Tour tomorrow evening, bringing local hoop fans a dash of European excitement in the capital.

“We are thrilled to be here to play for the Taiwanese fans,” FC Barcelona superstar Juan Carlos Navarro said at a pregame press conference in Taipei earlier this week.

Navarro is to be joined by his teammates, including Ante Tomic of Croatia and Marcelinho Huerta of Brazil, in a star-studded lineup to take on the All-Stars, who are captained by Fubon Financial Holding’s (formerly the Taiwan Mobile Cloud Leopards) small forward Ho Sho-cheng.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to play a world-class team such as FC Barcelona and we will make sure the fans will not be disappointed,” Ho said at the press conference.

He is to lead a team made up of household names such as Liu Chan and Tso Tsong-kai of Taiwan Beer, and several projected starters of the Dacin Tigers and Fubon Financial Holding.

Taipei marks the final stop of FC Barcelona’s week-long Asia tour that also included Tuesday night’s match against the Zhejiang Guansha Lions of China’s Chinese Basketball Association, in which the Spaniards triumphed in a 94-83 decision.

In addition to playing in Taipei, FC Barcelona have already made visits to local schools to interact with young ballers, as well as holding daily practice sessions to demonstrate their goodwill while keeping in shape.

Due to scheduling constraints and FC Barcelona’s desire to return to Spain as early as possible to prepare for their season opener on Thursday, the visitors are to head directly to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport following tomorrow’s contest for their midnight flight home.

“It’s an effort to expand our presence in the Asian market, where we would like to grow a stronger fan base and bring the best of European basketball to the continent,” Euroleague Basketball president and chairman Jordi Bertomeu Orteu said during the press conference.

The visit by his league will likely bring even more exposure to the Europeans after the apparent success realized by the National Basketball Association over the past several years, with a steady stream of current and former stars making rounds among Asian cities.

“It’s an exciting time for the sport and sports marketing in general,” game promoter Vanessa Wang of Must Sports Marketing told the Taipei Times.

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