By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
With the Basketball Champions League taking a break from action this week, the 2020 half of the 2020-21 season ends with a hopeful result. The 93-71 win of the Bakken Bears on the road against Dinamo Sassari is a milestone for the Danish club and the competition itself, proving that the inclusive strategy of the BCL can bear fruits sooner than later.
It was not the first win of the Bakken Bears in the completion. The Danish club did beat Fraport Skyliners back in the 2016-17 season by five points (71-65). However, the end result back then was a 1-13 record, while now the Bears stayed alive with a 1-3 record, having the same record with Galatasaray in Group A. The sense of pride is totally different, not only due to the final point difference but also because the progress of the winning side is more than obvious.
With the exception of the first game, a blowout defeat by Iberostar Tenerife (98-73), the Bakken Bears proved to be competitive both against Galatasaray and Sassari. On the 5th of January, they will be hosting the Turkish club, making even bigger dreams.
The bottom line is quite simple: The winner of 18 domestic league titles and 11 domestic cups need a boost in order to improve by playing against stronger competition in Europe. And with them becoming stronger and reaching twice the semi-final of the FIBA Europe Cup in 2018 and 2020, entering the Basketball Champions League gives them the chance to take the next step.
Because of the strength of the top competitor, the natural evolution of the whole Danish league would be to improve, creating the perfect storm as Gabriel Iffe Lundberg is a star for Zielona Gora in the Polish League and the VTB United League. Meanwhile, led by Lundberg, the Danish national team has a 2-2 record in the Eurobasket 2022 qualifiers after beating Lithuania on the road and the Czech Republic at home.
FIBA has decided that in order to improve the popularity and impact of basketball in Europe, every country and every club should be included in the pyramid. And the Danish example, spearheaded both by the national team and the Bakken Bears, proves that this can work.
And even if you think that this is just blind luck that doesn’t change the big picture, you can’t argue that FIBA created the conditions for this to happen.