By Stefan Djordjevic/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2021-22 Basketball Champions League has kept the core teams of the competition, including the powerhouses that traditionally have a realistic shot at the title. However, this campaign also features quite a number of newcomers and returnees to the field.
Those teams usually automatically get an underdog status due to the unknown and it being hard to predict how they’ll fare against those who have already proven their level.
This time around though, most, if not all of those teams have already made a statement in the first Gameday and proved that this season might be the most competitive one so far in BCL. That means nobody is safe and the recently changed format makes every single game even more so important.
An ‘upsetting’ start
A total of 12 teams (re)joined the BCL for this campaign and they have been spread out across all eight groups. Seven of those teams are making their first appearance in the competition.
Out of those dozen teams, excluding Manresa and Stal Ostrow who faced each other (the Spaniards won), six teams came out victorious while four squads suffered a loss in one-possession games decided in the final minute.
Two German teams, and two returnees at that – Ludwigsburg and Oldenburg – got wins over Sassari and Rytas, with Ludwigsburg being rather convincing with a 13-point margin.
Cluj made its debut with a win over Darussafaka while Unicaja put on a late surge for a 17-point win over Nizhny which has had great runs in the past few seasons and was tough to break even for powerhouse teams such as CSKA.
Another team that has made an impressive run domestically was Lavrio and the Greeks made their debut with a close win against JDA Dijon. Impressive considering the French team has been a title-contending name in BCL and has been very good in crunch time led by David Holston.
“Congratulation to our team because I think it’s the biggest win in our history, the first win in the BCL group. But we have to move on,” Lavrio’s Vasileios Mouratos said.
PAOK let the game against Igokea slip through their fingers while Kalev failed to complete a big comeback against Strasbourg. Besiktas had the toughest task out of all the losing sides, as they had to face the back-to-back champions San Pablo Burgos.
Inspired by the champions
Mentioning San Pablo Burgos, it’s impossible not to compare their miraculous run in the past few years to the upcoming teams. From their first professional squad in 2015 all the way to the repeating champions of BCL. Doing it in the first two years in the competition no less. Even going through the qualifiers the first time around.
That story must have inspired many clubs to make their own try and there are two teams in particular that fit a similar mold – Prometey and Treviso.
Treviso was founded in 2012, just recently reaching the top tier of Italian basketball. Prometey was founded even later, in 2018, three years ago.
Both teams had to go through the qualifiers this summer and both did it, reaching BCL regular season for the first time.
Treviso got a win over VEF Riga while Prometey, on the other hand, suffered a loss to Tenerife.
Prometey had a tougher challenge and they forced Tenerife to leave everything on the court. A huge 33-point game by Sasu Salin and a game-winning three by Aaron Doornekamp were necessary in order to take down the Ukrainians who have certainly impressed in their debut.
With so many squads making a statement so early on in the season, everybody will have to step up their game and perhaps this year will be another historic one when it comes to the story of the championship team.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League