By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
ATHENS — Last summer, a Dejan Kravic that was coming off a breakthrough season in the Spanish ACB League with Obradoiro landed on San Pablo Burgos, another Spanish team, that would participate in a major, endgame tournament right at the start of 2020-21: The Basketball Champions League Final 8.
Kravic, who was crowned BCL champion in 2019 with Virtus Bologna, had exactly this in mind when he chose to continue his career with Burgos. And a few months afterward, the Serbian center became just the second player after former teammate Kevin Punter to win the Basketball Champions League twice, when his team claimed its maiden European title in the Final 8 tournament held in Athens, Greece.
“When I saw that, it was an opportunity to play in the Basketball Champions League. They were already in the Final 8. It was definitely something that attracted me, to be on this team and have that opportunity,” Kravic said after the match with the gold medal around his neck.
His whole team shared the focused ambition of going all the way to capturing the championship title. Sure, participation in the tournament alone was an accomplishment for a club that never ever played in European competition before in its history, but it would mean nothing for Kravic and his teammates without carrying the actual trophy back home.
“We didn’t come here to make history just by winning two games (the quarterfinal and semifinal),” Burgos guard Alex Renfroe had said after the semifinal win over Basket Zaragoza. Everyone felt the same.
“When we came here that was the goal. The goal wasn’t to be here just to be here but to win it. I’m glad we achieved that,” Kravic said.
Kravic finished the match vs. AEK Athens with just one point but registered a game-high 11 rebounds in 19:29 minutes. Before the championship game, he had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the quarterfinal plus 11 points, six assists and five boards in the semifinal win over JDA Dijon.
“From 1 to 12, we have so many good players on our team,” Kravic said. “There’s s much depth on our team. It’s very easy because of our teammates.”
Being with Burgos feels like family for Kravic. “They are very welcoming, very unselfish players. It was very easy from the first day.”
Photo: Basketball Champions League