By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
If there can be only one true Cinderella story in the European Basketball archives, then Hereda San Pablo Burgos can’t be compared with any other club for this title.
A club that created a professional section just in 2015 and represents a city of 200.000 inhabitants managed on Sunday to win the Basketball Champions League, playing against AEK, a club with a rich history in every aspect and a total of four international titles, eight domestic championship trophies, and five domestic Cups.
Burgos, a club that’s trying to emerge on a very peculiar European basketball landscape, found the chance to make a splash via a competition that awarded them for their progress on their domestic league and allowed them to be part of a big stage.
Out of the four clubs who have won so far the BCL trophy, Burgos is the quintessential BCL team, an up-and-coming club with modest financial resources that needs a platform on a continental level to demonstrate their abilities.
And while teams like AEK, Iberostar Tenerife, and Hapoel Jerusalem got the short end of the stick in 2020 Final Eight, despite creating admirable rosters and having high ambitions, everyone loves an underdog story.
Getting a champion like the Spanish team is quite a vindication for the model that the BCL has decided to apply. Τhe competition gives an equal chance to everyone to achieve something big, depending on their domestic leagues’ results, and on the way get some profit out of it.
For Burgos, this profit was maximized due to the one million euros of prize money.
And for the BCL itself, the fact that they did manage to finish the season even without fans on the stands, it’s not a small feat.
COVID cases seem to be the norm in the European sports landscape and everyone is trying to navigate their season through them.
The BCL became the first continental competition that managed to complete a tournament without any reports of COVID cases, by practically creating a “bubble” in Athens and limiting the interaction of the players with anyone outside the teams.
It goes without saying that the limited number of participants and also the small number of games have a lot to do with that. However, with the season just starting and games postponements being a reality even in domestic leagues, the BCL managed to finish the 2020 season on the court, crown a champion, and has already prepared itself for the 2020-21 season with a flexible schedule.
In extreme times you need extreme measures and it’s not easy to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. There’s not a solution that can apply to every competition, since there are different needs and obligations.
Still, you can’t deny that the BCL has found the way and established itself once more in the European basketball eco-system.