By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Savaria Arena welcomed the 2020-21 Basketball Champions League Regular Season with a strong showing by the attending fans. They enjoyed Falco Szombathely prevailing in its home opener and setting an early pace to advance to the next round. Still, plenty of games left, five to be exact including two more at home, but the Savaria Arena privileges may be just enough to propel the team coached by Gasper Okorn to the next round.
“I think the crowd for us is a big advantage, with most teams not having their fans at the moment, I believe our fans’ support can play as a huge sixth man in our favor,” Kyan Anderson replied to a Eurohoops inquiry on how much the fans can help. The former TCU standout went for 19 points in Tuesday’s win against Pszczolka Start Lublin. His 9/9 free throws were the most made without a miss in a single BCL Regular Season game since January 2020.
“We really want to thank the fans,” mentioned the Slovenian head coach Okorn in the post-game press conference. A double-digit lead in the Gameday 2 contest nearly evaporated, but Falco players influenced by the strong support launched a game-ending 20-13 run to wrap up proceedings and jump to 1-0 in Group D. “The key was when they cut the deficit to two points, we didn’t break. We made a new run and we won the game,” pointed out Zoltan Perl after putting up 14 points and six assists.
The restrictions implemented to prevent the coronavirus spread put masks on the fans, but they still gave their all to help their favorite team. With games featuring spectators a rarity in this troubling COVID-19 era, the Szombathely crowd supplying a massive boost to the players and also improved the viewing experience for neutral bystanders. A breath of fresh air to an extent simulating games played prior to health regulations keeping fans away from the gyms all around Europe and the world.
“Congratulations to Falco playing a very good game. Congratulations on the coach being ready for our team. Also congratulations to the fans for creating a very good atmosphere,” admitted visiting head coach David Dedek confirming the fans impact on the match, “They were really helping the home team.”
After going through a couple of qualifying rounds and taking full advantage of the home-court edge, Falco went on claiming victory in its first four Savaria Arena challenges last season. The Hungarian team finished 5-2 at home, but the 6-8 overall record fell slightly short of a playoffs berth. JDA Dijon, Telekom Bonn, Neptunas, PAOK, and Happy Casa Brindisi all tasted defeat in Hungary.
Evan Bruinsma was not part of the 2019-20 squad but made his way back this season for a second stint following his 2018-19 run with the club. The Detroit Mercy alumni registered a game-high 21 points in his Champions League group stage debut.
“I’m glad to be back at Falco and playing in the Basketball Champions League was part of the reason I returned,” he told Eurohoops and went on to preview remaining challenges, including Casademont Zaragoza and Nizhny Novgorod, “We have three quality opponents in our group and must take the competition one game at a time. Our fans created a great atmosphere and we hope we can continue to use them for every home game.”
It wasn’t meant to be last season. This time around, more success and a further BCL step can light up Falco and Hungarian basketball. Glory days include the EuroBasket gold medal back in 1955 are decades separated. The club based in Szombathely hopes its second Champions League run lasts at least a little longer, while supporters will certainly attempt to help to turn this goal into a reality.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League