By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
ERA Nymburk made it to the Basketball Champions League Final 8 eager to claim what can be considered rightfully theirs.
This is the second straight Final 8 trip for the Czech outlet. Only three Spanish clubs, Hereda San Pablo Burgos, Iberostar Tenerife, and Casademont Zaragoza can say as much. However, the Nymburk story really stretches further back than the first Final 8 introduced to wrap up the 2019-20 season.
Lasting BCL original
Nymburk was part of the inaugural Champions League campaign and has since been going from strength to strength. A team largely relying on domestic talent, among the best examples of success in the Basketball Champions League model, and maybe with a chip on its shoulder heading to Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
The 2016-17 season landed them in Group A. A 10-4 record secured third place, but one single point in the aggregate score of the home-and-away series versus Dinamo Sassari prevented a Round of 16 berth.
The 2017-18 season featured Nymburk in Group D of the Regular Season. Another 10-4 run advanced the team in the playoffs but suffered a knockout from AEK by another one-point margin in the home-and-away series.
Following a couple of very tough breaks, the team based in Nymburk was eliminated one step earlier after being held to 4-10 in Group C of the 2018-19 Regular Season.
The breakout campaign of the 2019-20 season was severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. A 12-2 tally punched in first place in Group C and a 2-0 sweep against Teskut Bandirma initially set up a best-of-three series with the home-court advantage versus AEK. However, the season was eventually completed early in the current season with the Final 8 in Athens. The Queen moved past Nymburk in a single-game elimination contest at OAKA.
The next step
Labeled as the potential sleeper of the later stages of the Champions League is no longer the case for Nymburk. What could have been last season will never be answered. The approaching Final 8 presents the opportunity for head coach Oren Amiel and his players to finally complete the next step entering the title discussion.
Nymburk survived a three-way tie at 4-2 between Tofas and JDA Dijon to clinch an advancing spot of Group B in the Regular Season. A 5-1 tally in the Playoffs switched to a round-robin schedule granted the second chance in the Final 8.
“We are in the part of the bracket that is theoretically easier, so we can’t make excuses,” said Vojtech Hruban, “But the fact is that we still have as our opponent the third-placed team of the Turkish league, which has strong individuals on the roster. But it’s a team that might suit us, because they don’t have such a deep rotation and our fast-paced game can be useful against them. We will see how it goes.”
The Final 8 draw generated a May 5 quarterfinal versus Pinar Karsiyaka. The winner will face host Nizhny Novgorord or Casademont Zaragoza. The semifinal winner moves on to the championship game.
“Karsiyaka were one of the opponents I wanted. The draw was friendly to us, and if we prepare well, we definitely have a chance to advance,” added experienced center, Petr Benda, “Of course Karsiyaka are a very strong opponent, like all the teams that are in the Final 8, but we could have an advantage over them because of our deep rotation.”
Pouring points and grabbing rebounds.
The 1,078 points scored so far are unmatched compared to the remaining BCL teams. The league-leading offensive effort shapes an average of 89.8 points per game. Omar Prewitt with 15.9, Retin Obasohan with 14.4, and Hruban with 13.4 points per appearance are mainly responsible.
Nymburk also leads the Champions League with 44.0 rebounds per contest. Hayden Dalton, the strongest MVP candidate of the team, has pulled down 7.2 rebounds per match to go along with 11.5 points, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks per appearance over the 12 games of the Regular Season and the Round of 16.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League