All You Need to Know About Dubai Basketball by Two Heads of Project

Dubai Basketball, spearheaded by Djordje Djokovic and a former assistant coach at Baskonia and Girona Dejan Kamenjasevic, is joining the ABA League, aiming to grow in European basketball competitions. Despite rumors of high-profile signings, the focus is on sustainability and long-term development.

Dubai Basketball plans to participate in the EuroCup and eventually the EuroLeague, emphasizing building a strong, competitive, and financially sound franchise. They aim to dispel misconceptions about Dubai and highlight its diverse and safe environment, hoping to foster a new basketball ecosystem.

While Dubai Basketball aims to be competitive, the primary focus is on sustainability as a business, preferring to use the term “franchise.” There are promising prospects on the court, and the off-court plans are equally intriguing. These include strategic moves at various levels, particularly concerning talents leaving early for other leagues, notably the NCAA.

Although the EuroLeague is their ultimate goal, Dubai Basketball is prepared to progress gradually, step by step.

Djokovic and Kamenjasevic addressed some of the main questions regarding Dubai Basketball.

Dejan Kamenjasevic highlighted several reasons why the Adriatic League is crucial for them. Dubai is home to a significant number of people from the former Yugoslavia, a region renowned for producing top-tier basketball talent. The league understood their vision and accepted them, even among initial skeptics. With around 100,000 individuals from this region residing in Dubai, there is a substantial potential fan base. The ABA League serves as their gateway to Europe, fostering a mutually beneficial long-term partnership. Competing in the ABA League could pave the way for acceptance into other leagues. Kamenjasevic believes their participation will help dispel doubts and broaden perspectives across Europe.

Djordje Djokovic added that joining the ABA League is a logical and optimal choice. The region has a rich history of producing excellent players and teams, and the league has offered them a pathway into European competitions from the start. Dubai’s popularity in the Balkans ensures that many players will respect their efforts, allowing them to grow as a sports project. This opportunity will enable them to test their capabilities and improve continuously.

When commenting on the roster, Dejan Kamenjasevic emphasized the importance of having players not only from the region but also those with experience in the league. According to him, this approach will facilitate a smoother transition into the competition.

Djordje Djokovic explained that they have two separate budgets and plans depending on whether they compete solely in the ABA League or also in another competition. Their aim is to secure top positions in the ABA League standings, which necessitates having experienced players familiar with this level of play. Recruiting from the ABA region is not just about regional ties but also about the high quality of players available.

Speaking on the topic that sports are used for “sportswashing” in the Middle East, Dejan Kamenjasevic believes that such accusations reflect a significant amount of prejudice and a lack of understanding about the Middle East. He pointed out that Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are home to over 200 nationalities living together peacefully in one of the world’s safest cities. He also highlights historical context, noting that from 1934 to 1954, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt participated in FIBA competitions alongside European countries, with Egypt hosting and winning Eurobasket in 1949. Kamenjasevic is confident that despite initial negative reactions, perceptions will change once people experience the games, and Dubai’s contributions will ultimately be seen as positive.

Similarly, Djokovic said that Dubai has a profound love for basketball. It’s the second most-watched live sport in the country, with one million European expatriates living in Dubai. Our franchise will give them an opportunity to share their passion for the game. Although it’s a challenge to establish such a culture, we are determined to achieve something extraordinary in the coming years. We aim to build a competitive and healthy franchise that will expand the market in the Eastern part of the world and globally.

When reflecting on the use of the term “franchise,” which differs from the more commonly used terms like “teams” or “clubs” in Europe, Djokovic said that the aim is not only to field a competitive team but also to operate as a franchise with a solid business plan. Building an ecosystem and a product that can be shared globally, generating profit. The goal isn’t to sustain losses of 10-15 million per season; rather, to aspire to earn that level of revenue. By using the term “franchise,” Djokovic underlined that it means the creation of a profitable business ecosystem.

Speaking of the future for Dubai Basketball, and aspirations for the EuroCup alongside the Adriatic League, Djokovic said that they aim to demonstrate Dubai’s significance through presence in the ABA League, showcasing strong business model and venues, the Coca-Cola Arena. He pointed out that they want to assure the basketball community worldwide that our club is here to stay, built on a sustainable structure and a solid plan. He continued by saying that Dubai Basketball views the EuroCup as an integral part of European basketball and hold it in high regard. In addition, participating in the EuroCup would provide Dubai Basketball with valuable experience and an opportunity to compete at a high level. Our goal is not just short-term success; we aim to create a sustainable business project that spans years to come, Djokovic concluded.

On the same note, Kamenjasevic remarked that Dubai Basketball maintains positive relationships with the league’s current leadership and aims to contribute to the growth of basketball in Europe and MENA region. Regarding the rumors about our budget and player acquisitions, it’s crucial to clarify that Dubai Basketball’s approach is business-oriented. Dubai Basketball aims to balance competitiveness with financial sustainability, prioritizing long-term viability over short-term victories. Building a solid franchise takes time and careful planning, and we’re committed to this journey, said Kamenjasevic.