By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The idea behind the Basketball Champions League is to give an opportunity to any club that can qualify via the domestic leagues to win the trophy. That’s a great idea in theory and this season it’s already proved to be a fact on the court.
With two play-ins series still undecided, out of the teams that competed in the last two Final-8s only Lenovo Tenerife, Hapoel Holon, and SIG Strasbourg have secured a spot in the Round of 16.
Two contenders of the 2020 Final-8, Dijon and Hapoel Jerusalem can join the party after missing the 2021 edition and that’s about it. Burgos, the back-to-back BCL champions, can’t defend their crown. AEK Athens is but a shadow of its past glories. Nymburk also missed the cut. Karsiyaka couldn’t make it despite having high ambitions and the list goes on and on.
The BCL wants to expand the pool of top European clubs and give the chance to teams from countries where there’s still great room for basketball development to showcase their talent and evolve.
It’s not an easy task, but having on the round of 16 Falco Szombathely from Hungary, U-BT Cluj-Napoca representing Romania and Filou Oostende from Belgium proves that those clubs at least get the chance via the BCL to get experience and understand the level of a continental competition for good, improving drastically over a few years.
After all, Falco and Cluj-Napoca didn’t even need play-ins in order to qualify.
That’s why in the duels between Dijon and VEF Riga from Latvia and between Hapoel Jerusalem and BC Prometey from Ukraine, the focus will be on the underdogs, which especially in the case of Prometey, have the firepower to make damage and continue their BCL season.
Getting the old continent much more involved in basketball no matter the country was one of the mantras of the Basketball Champions League and even with small steps, the plan works.