Široki Brijeg is the new Bosnian champion, without playing a minute or scoring a single basket.
That’s because their opponent in the semi-finals, Igokea, didn’t show up. In the other semifinal series, both teams Borac and Spars also refused to play. In the end, Široki Brijeg was declared Bosnian champion, but the chaos is only starting.
Championship format adjusted
All the above is a result of an ongoing discussion over the past couple of months. It started in April when two of the semifinal teams, Igokea, and Spars, submitted a proposal to the Bosnian Basketball Association that the season should be shortened and followed up by a final four instead of the traditional playoff format. The host of the final four should be the team that ended 1st in the regular-season rankings.
The proposal was adopted.
Another format adjustment rejected or not?
However, at the end of the regular season Igokea and Spars both requested that the season end and that the regular-season rankings should be final. That ranking looked as follows:
1-Igokea (10-0 record)
Igokea had dominated the second phase of the championship and had not lost a single game. Although all teams seemed to agree on the new proposal (some say that the BAA had also verbally agreed), the request was later formally rejected by the BAA. According to the BBA (Bosnian Basketball Association), there should be a final four, and the number one ranked team Igokea should be the host, but they refused. Then the 4th ranked team Široki Brijeg offered to be the host, and the BBA accepted it. However, three of the four playoff teams refused to play a final four as they felt that the season was too compromised by COVID-19 and the many reschedulings. They demanded that the standings at the end of the regular season should be final. A complicating factor is that the top Bosnian team plays the first part of the season in the regional Adriatic League and only joins the Bosnian championship in the second stage.
Which team will play in international competitions next season?
As a result, the BBA appointed Široki Brijeg as the new Bosnian champion. In the meantime, Igokea has already sent a request to participate in next season’s FIBA Cup, but the BBA dismissed it and reserved that spot for Široki Brijeg.
The same conflict arises as to which team has the right to participate in the regional Adriatic League (1st and 2nd division), Igokea (as the self-proclaimed champion and supported by two other semi-finalists) or Široki Brijeg (supported by the BBA)? Moreover, the BAA may now penalize Igokea, Borac, and Spars. Rumor has it that they could be relegated to the 2nd division.