By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The teams featured in the second half of the Basketball Champions League Final 8 bracket, represented by the head coaches and captains, extended their plans via the pre-tournament press conference held Wednesday. The other four teams took on similar roles Tuesday.
Lenovo Tenerife will face SIG Strasbourg on Thursday, labeled among the favorites of the season-ending tournament.
“Not at all. We have here eight different teams and the same chances to win,” noted head coach Txus Vidorreta attempting to remove potential pressure of favorable predictions, “We’ve had a great season but now it’s a totally different competition. It’s win or die and we all have the same options.”
“I don’t think we should think of ourselves as favorites, we need to prove that on the court,” echoed Marcelinho Huertas, “I think that everyone who’s here today have the same chances. When you play a competition like this, when it’s a knockout round, there are many factors that affect the game and circumstances can change really fast.”
The remaining BCL contenders have certainly been studying their upcoming opponents. It’s pretty hard to keep secrets at this point of the 2020-21 season.
“We respect them highly because of the way they played this year in both competitions. They earned the respect,” said Strasbourg head coach Lassi Tuovi on Tenerife, “On the other hand, I think we’ve been the underdogs the whole season. Recent wins, against AEK and Turk Telekom, who were here last year in the Final Eight… I think we can enjoy this moment and give them (Tenerife) the spot of favorites.”
“I think we definitely started the playoff round off on a tough note. We had some injuries like the coach had said and coming back from 0-3 was probably some of our best basketball,” pointed out DeAndre Lansdowne, “We try to use that as confidence and bring that moving forward. We played against a lot of good teams and I think a lot of people doubted us at times. We continued sticking to our game plan and our identity, and that helped us move forward.”
Defending champion Hereda San Pablo Burgos will take on Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon in the other Thursday quarterfinal.
“Our initial goal was to get out of the first round as the team never made it before. Of course, since we kept winning, stayed hungry and showed we can do something more, it gave us a chance to be present here for this event,” mentioned Holon boss Stefanos Dedas, “And now we feel even more hungry for this. We want to continue doing some great things in this competition and are very excited and motivated. We are playing against the reigning champions.”
“We are very proud and excited to be at this event. It’s my fourth season in this club and from the moment I came to this club, the main goal was Europe and to make progress in the Champions League,” added Guy Pnini “I’m very happy we managed to fulfill this goal this season. Last few years, things didn’t go our way.”
The unique experience of going all the way in the BCL Final 8 belongs to Burgos.
“We are very happy to be here and it’s a new competition,” said Joan Penarroya on the second straight Final 8 appearance, “It’s not how you start but how you end the season. We’ll fight a lot to achieve what we did in Athens.”
“It changes the mindset. I think it’s always a little bit easier when you go into a competition and nobody expects that much,” explained Vitor Benite, “We, as a team, knew what we could accomplish back then and we can do it again.”
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League