By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
Casademont Zaragoza, ERA Nymburk, Hapoel Holon, Lenovo Tenerife, Pinar Karsiyaka, SIG Strasbourg, tournament host Nizhny Novgorod and crown holder San Pablo Burgos are entering the battle of the 2021 Basketball Champions League Final Eight which launches Wednesday (5/5).
The tournament is held in Nizhny Novgorod after an exciting yet peculiar (as is the case with all basketball competitions) season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Nizhny coach Zoran Lukic, whose squad was plagued by the virus in October, it was a challenge that ultimately made him discover new limits for his team.
“It’s not a problem only for my team,” Lukic said in the first of the two opening pressers. “All teams had problem with COVID-19. It’s a part of that. And we had to adapt to that situation. It definitely wasn’t easy. Maybe it was a good challenge for the coaches. Because we made movements that we weren’t ready for. To recognize some possibilities from our players. It was something new, not good for the health of the players. All of us, even doctors we were under big pressure and we tried to find solutions to not only play the games but also to play interesting basketball. To put our philosophy and show everyone what we can do.”
“You never know how the whole thing is going to finish,” Lukic added.
Lukic and Nizhny will face Zaragoza and coach Luis Casimiro in the quarterfinals. “This season is difficult but I think that this competition is a good challenge from me and the team and everybody,” Casimiro said. “The experience is important but the key is to be ready to compete tomorrow in the quarterfinal and make a good job.”
The other quarterfinal of Wednesday will feature a clash between Pinar Karsiyaka and ERA Nymburk, the latter appearing in their second straight Final 8. Nymburk coach Oren Amiel spoke with admiration for his opponents and coach Ufuk Sarica in particular.
“Obviously, they are very talented and quality team,” Amiel said. “With a lot of experience. I mean… I can’t reach the experience of this guy next to me even in ten years. I don’t think there aren’t any secrets here. Both teams probably know each other very well. We can expect some small adjustments from both teams. But at the end of the day they have very experienced and quality players. It’s not going to be easy but we will fight for sure.”
Karsiyaka will be Turkey’s sole representative in the tournament and, for now, Sarica doesn’t look further than the quarterfinal at hand.
“First of all that we have I’m very proud,” Sarica mentioned. “We are going to fight against very good coaches, players and teams. Actually, we weren’t lucky the last two times. Maybe we were so close but we couldn’t get it. I hope we can do it now but it’s too early to talk about Final or Cup. We have a very important game to play.”
“We played many games together. We trust to each other. We had some problems from time to time and we made mistakes but we didn’t give up. We improved ourselves day by day,” Sarica also said.”