Moreira aiming for history with Basketball Champions League title for Bologna
BOLOGNA (Italy) - Segafredo Virtus Bologna’s Yanick Moreira is aiming for history by bringing a Basketball Champions League title to the city this season, as his squad prepares for the first step of the journey in the Round of 16.
Finishing top of Group D with a 10-4 record (with all four of those losses being by three points or less) Bologna are matched up with Le Mans in the opening round of the Play-Offs, an opponent that Moreira says they are not taking lightly, despite their 7-7 record in Group A.
“They (Le Mans) did show during the group stage that they can go far in this competition and we will need to play at our highest level to beat them and qualify for the next round,” the Angolan international told the Basketball Champions League.
“We have been stepping up our game in the last couple of weeks and we did very good games lately, so our confidence level is pretty high and we are ambitious, so we are going to start this next stage of the competition hungry for more wins and to have a good run in the BCL. We are all very motivated.”
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The 2.05m (6ft 9in) big man joined the club in January, having started the season with fellow Basketball Champions League side, PAOK, a decision, he says, he has no regrets about.
“I had a great time with PAOK and I learned a lot there,” he reflected. “But the opportunity to come to Italy was a good one when I decided to join the team in January for the rest of the season."
Despite having only played four games with the squad, Moreira has been finding his rhythm of late, registering double-digit point scoring efforts in their last two outings.
“I really love to be here, the team is very competitive, the guys welcomed me the best way and we have all the tools to have a great season. I want to give my best and I have been giving my all since I got here, for my team and for my teammates in order to win as many games as we can.”
He is averaging 8.2 points, and 1.4 rebounds on 58.9% shooting on the season and is relishing the opportunity in having relocated to a city with such rich basketball tradition.
"I am really enjoying it man, that is such a great place to play basketball. Bologna has a great history of basketball and you can feel the passion from the game, which is fantastic for us. Our fanbase is so great; they are our sixth man and they support us every game with the same energy.
"I really do love being here, it’s a whole basketball and a great human experience to be in a city like Bologna, which has so much history in basketball."
There is no doubt that Bologna have the talent to win the title; Moreira joined a balanced squad with an American quartet led by the unstoppable scoring of Kevin Punter, along with floor general Tony Taylor, and polished center Brian Qvale.
Kelvin Martin leads the team at the defensive end, whilst they are loaded with additional talent in Italian international Pietro Aradori, final Regular Season Gameday MVP, and French international, Amath M'Baye and Serbian seven-foot international Dejan Kravic.
And though the club has a rich history of winning - they own two EuroLeague crowns, a Saporta Cup trophy and a EuroChallenge title, whilst domestically, Virtus have won the Italian league 15 times - it has been well over a decade since their last major piece of silverware.
“We are going to try to have the best run we can and try to fight to win the title,” Moreira concluded.
“We had a great first round, so I think that we can be ambitious and compete at the highest level. It’s not going to be easy, and a lot of teams can fight for the title, but if everyone stays healthy and if we compete at our best level, we can compete for the title.
“We know that there are many games left and that every one has to be played like if it were a final, but we want to make something great in this year’s BCL. That would be an amazing achievement for the fans, the team and also for the city.
"...That would be so great to make history and bring the title back to Bologna."