Ismael Bako: Nobody believed we’ll be here

2019-05-05T19:12:31+00:00 2019-05-05T19:35:59+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

05/May/19 19:12

Antwerp Giants and Ismael Bako bid farewell to the Basketball Champions League season with the third place in the Final Four.

By Antonis Stroggylakis/

ANTWERP– The players of Telenet Antwerp Giants were wearing some really big medal pieces around their necks while they were walking through the mixed zone following their win over Brose Bamberg in the Basketball Champions League third-place game.

The medal was bronze but considering the overachieving run of this young Antwerp squad towards the Final Four, it probably felt a bit like gold.

“It does indeed,” Antwerp center Ismael Bako agreed.”Maybe if we played like this we could’ve beaten Tenerife. Still, the third place is much better than fourth.”

A victory. Even if the game was for the bronze, that was the fitting way for Antwerp to complete its fairytale-like season. A squad 23 years young on average, that what lacked in experience carried it plenty in passion, energy and a teamwork spirit that paced them throughout the season.

“Nobody believed we’ll be here. If you looked at the teams we faced in the beginning… nobody even believed we’ll make the Top 16,” Bako told Eurohoops.

“It’s just really incredible. We come from a small country like Belgium and did this. Incredible,” Bako added.

Bakο capped his Basketball Champions League campaign not only with the third place in the Final Four but also with a special personal accomplishment.

At 23 years of age, Bako saw his labor pay off with the fruit of a spot in the BCL Star Lineup First Team.

“I worked hard every day. If it means less sleep, less hanging out with friends and family, sometimes you have to sacrifice all these for the greater good,” Bako said. “But I’m happy for this acknowledgement of my work. It motivates me for more.”

Bako and his teammates grew up a lot this year from many aspects. Some of them are having their first season as a pro and learned to compete, and win, at a high level.

“We developed with each and every game. It was an amazing experience. I don’t know how it happened but it did.”