By Eurohoops Team/ email@example.com
If they didn’t know it already, Germani Brescia fans saw in the Italian Cup that C.J. Massinburg can thrive in big games. And that’s something the 7DAYS EuroCup rookie has shown throughout his career.
Massinburg played a major role in Brescia knocking off two Turkish Airlines EuroLeague teams en route to winning the 2023 Italian Cup crown – the first such title in club history.
“It feels good to have our names written down in history. This is the first cup that Brescia has won. I’m honored to be a part of it. We worked really hard and it was a tough route, beating two EuroLeague teams, and I think we really deserved it,” the guard said.
Brescia started the Italian Cup with a major upset as the eighth-seeded team knocked off top-seeded EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 75-72. Massinburg led Brescia in scoring with 16 points, and he said his team felt overlooked, especially after Brescia lost 78-77 to Milan in the first game of the season in the Italian League.
“Nobody picked us to win the [cup] game. We had that as fuel and the confidence from the first close game and then we were able to get it done. It felt good,” the 25-year-old said.
Brescia followed that with a 74-57 victory over Pesaro – with Massinburg collecting 13 points and 8 rebounds – and then the underdogs finished the job with an 84-76 triumph over Virtus Segafredo Bologna in the title game.
All the more impressive is that Brescia managed the run despite having lost its last six games in the Italian League going into the Italian Cup. But the title was the result of the team looking each other in the face during the losing streak and asking themselves what they wanted to accomplish.
“Hard times are either going to make you or break you. We went through adversity and stayed together and we were able to get something good,” said Massinburg, who chipped in 9 points and 2 rebounds in the win over Virtus.
Winning big games is nothing new for Massinburg though. Back in college at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he helped the 13th-seeded Bulls upset No. 4 seed University of Arizona in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament – the school’s first win in NCAA history. Massinburg scored 19 points that night.
The 2018-19 season included regular-season victories over bigger-name colleges including West Virginia and Syracuse and culminated with another first-round NCAA victory. Massinburg poured in 18 points in a 91-74 win over Arizona State. Buffalo would lose in the second round to Texas Tech but those two victories remain the only two in Buffalo’s NCAA history.
“I am kind of used to big wins. I really like those games. It brings out the best in players when the stakes are high: do-or-die, win or go home. You gotta bring your best game. You gotta be fearless in those games. Some people get a little tight in those games and are scared of the moment. But I am a very religious person and I just try to have faith and go out there fearless and it usually works out for me,” said Massinburg.
The Dallas, Texas, native also shined at The Basketball Tournament (TBT), an annual single-elimination tournament in the United States in the summer with features a winner-take-all prize of 1 million dollars for the team. Massinburg and a team comprised of predominantly Buffalo alumni reached the TBT semifinals in 2021 and then ran the table to the TBT title in 2022 with Massinburg also taking home the MVP trophy.
Knowing his own history of rising to big games and the fact that Brescia took down two EuroLeague teams to win the Italian Cup, Massinburg said the team has ultimate confidence as it nears the EuroCup Playoffs and its similar single-elimination style.
“I like our chances in a single elimination game. I think it brings the best out of this team, specifically. We had the Italian Cup and the way that our team was able to focus and really dig deep that gave us a lot of confidence and I really like our chances,” Massinburg said.