By Eurohoops team / firstname.lastname@example.org
ERA Nymburk’s Oren Amiel, AEK Athens’ Ilias Papatheodorou, Casademont Zaragoza’s Diego Ocambo and Iberostar Tenerife’s Txus Vidorreta took the stage at the second Basketball Champions League Final Eight Pre-Tournament press conference on Wednesday, as the four teams will clash in the second day of the quarterfinals Thursday.
“It’s the first time for such a club to participate in such an event so we are very excited and looking forward to doing our best here”, said coach Amiel as Nymburk makes its first appearance in a major event this September.
The excitement, however, is mutual for BCL veterans such AEK, as Papatheodorou explained.
“We are very excited to be here. I would like to congratulate the BCL for giving us the opportunity to finish the previous season on the court and of course, it’s a good opportunity for us to make great performances and win the trophy”, he said.
Zaragoza enters the tournament with a new coach, under the guidance of Diego Ocambo, who gave credit to the players and former coach Porfirio Fisac that helped the team reach the Final Eight stage.
“I would like to appreciate the players and the coach that aren’t here, because it’s a special situation. I really appreciate their effort. As a coach, I think we have to adjust to the players that we have. Our players have energy, they want to run, they are pro-active and I want to use these to help them play better in these situations”, he said.
2017 BCL champion Vidorreta has seen everything in the competition, though this Final Eight experience is expected to be a first for him as well, competing for the title in front of empty stands.
“Probably in this situation we have an advantage. Not just Tenerife, but Spanish teams in general, because we finished last season without fans and started this one playing in the BCL playoffs, Supercopa, three games in the ACB. Basketball is changing for a bit, for a little time I expect, but the most important questions never change. Both teams play with the same spirit. The basketball on the court is 90% the same”, mentioned Vidorreta.
Team captains Vojtech Hruban (ERA Nymburk), Nikos Zisis (AEK), Dylan Ennis (Casademont Zaragoza) and Marcelinho Huertas (Iberostar Tenerife) were next up in the presser, explaining how it feels to be like playing in unprecedented conditions.
“We are very happy to be here, this is the first time in a long time for a Czech team to be in a competition like this. We want to give ourselves a chance to show that we belong here and that this is not the last time we appear here”, commented Hruban.
Veteran guard Zisis highlighted the importance of playing at home, even without the fans in the stands. “We live in an unprecedented situation with COVID, so to be able to play and compete in a high-level tournament is a very big opportunity for all of us. It feels nice to play this tournament at home, it would be perfect to play in front of our fans, but this is how the situation is”.
“It’s amazing to be a part of the event. We have a tough opponent. Our team is excited, we are ready to go with the support of our fans back home. Obviously, they can’t be here, I’m sure they would’ve flown if they could. With them pushing us in the organization to win and do our best. With everything going on in the world it’s a blessing to be able to compete here”, said Zaragoza’s multi-experienced Ennis.
Tenerife had an adventurous arrival in Athens due to the current events, though Huertas wants to focus more on the game, rather than the difficulties of traveling.
“We just have to keep focused, we can’t let things like these draw our attention. We came here for a reason. We have to fight against all kinds of adversity and we have to keep our minds into the prize”.
Below the pre-tournament press conference: