By John Askounis/ email@example.com
The Basketball Champions League is among the competitions temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to halt the 2019-20 season was taken with a couple of Round of 16 Game 3 games left and the Quarterfinals all but confirmed. Afterward, the Final Four was supposed to produce the finishing touch on the exciting campaign.
Eurohoops reached out to several players inquiring for the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Those replying leaned towards a premature end but resuming action when possible under some alternative format comes into play as well. The Basketball Champions League Board will have a meeting on Monday, here is some input from the players that can be considered.
“This whole year has been a constant reminder that there are things bigger than basketball”
Joining in December, John Holland helped Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem march to the quarterfinals for a best-of-three series against San Pablo Burgos. “I think it’s unfortunate but the main focus should always be the health of the players and the community as a whole,” he told Eurohoops.
“I’m sad because personally I feel like we had a great chance to win the Basketball Champions League,” the Boston University alum added, “You don’t get many seasons in your life as a player and when one is taken away it’s a huge loss but this whole year has been a constant reminder that there are things bigger than basketball.”
“Strange to suddenly play again”
“I would really like the season to continue for AEK to have the opportunity to win one more title,” said AEK’s Charis Giannopoulos, “Sadly, considering the situation around Europe, this seems like an improbable outcome. Basketball Champions League will decide to wait or not.”
ERA Nymburk was set for the best-of-three series against the Queen. Superb run into the quarterfinals placed the home-court advantage on its side. “I am sad about this, mainly because we could not finish the work in progress,” confessed Hayden Dalton.
“I am very sorry about the current situation. Especially when we have the best results,” well-experienced teammate, Pavel Pumprla, threw in, “We believed in the Final Four. But hope the chance is still alive because the final decision has not been made and we are still waiting.”
“We did really well, we won and we had a great chance of success in the Basketball Champions League,” added Dalton, “Now nobody knows what will happen.”
“We went to our homes because we don’t know how long it will take, so it’s better to be home,” he mentioned regarding the initial reaction, “Hopefully this will pass soon and we will be able to return again to Nymburk and hopefully finish the Champions League, if possible.”
“It would be strange, of course, to be without a team for so long and then suddenly play again,” he also pointed out, “But we have such good chemistry in the team and harmony that it wouldn’t be such a problem for us. We would quickly find a common note and play just as well as before.”
“Of course it wouldn’t be ideal to play it in May or June after so long break, but I would prefer it more than end it now,” Pumprla agreed to add, “I don’t know how it would look like, as a tournament for the final eight or something like that. It would be at least some end of the season and our effort.”
“I strongly hope that it will soon be possible to practice under normal conditions and that the teams will then want to play some friendly games,” the 33-year-old Czech swingman mentioned as well, “I would definitely train for three months and then finish the season with one game rather than finish it now. To have a feeling of ending and got a chance to fight for the title.”
“I don’t see the league resuming”
Apart from the six teams already through to the quarterfinals, Nizhny Novgorod and JDA Dijon were about to settle their differences in a Round of 16 Game 3. “I don’t think there’s any way we can continue with the current developments,” admitted Brandon Brown, the mastermind behind the Russian side’s run so far.
The VTB United League already canceled its 2019-20 season, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the 30-year-old American point guard believes a similar conclusion is up for BCL as well. “The top priorities are the players and staff health and safety,” he stressed, “With the Olympics being pushed back and almost all leagues in Europe canceled, I think it shows how irrelevant playing games is at the moment.”
“I don’t see the league resuming,” concurred JDA Dijon’s Richard Solomon, “Players safety should be a priority. Also, many of us can’t even get into a gym for a month maybe longer. How do you just go back into playoff mode after not touching a ball for a month? It would really be tough and the risk for injury drastically increases. It’s just too many factors that come into play during this unfortunate time with everything going on. In the grand scheme of things basketball is secondary.”
“I don’t like the whole “no champion” thing”
The latest BCL playoffs run for Iberostar Tenerife featured Gabriel Lundberg. “FIBA has made the right choice in suspending and maybe ultimately canceling the season. We’re dealing with something much bigger than basketball and everyone’s safety has to be the top priority,” he told Eurohoops.
“Obviously it’s tough to say because you don’t know how long this pandemic will keep going, and furthermore you don’t know how long it’ll last in each country. But hypothetically speaking, if there was a scenario where we could continue playing, I’d probably purpose to play the rest of the playoffs behind closed doors,” he mentioned on potentially continuing the 2019-20 season at some point.
“I don’t like the whole “no champion” thing,” added Lundberg, “Every team has invested too much into this season for there not to be crowned a league champion. Therefore, for me, it would be better (if playing wasn’t an option) for FIBA/BCL to just crown a champion.”
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League