08 October, 2019
03 May, 2020
Arena (AEK)
16/07/2020
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Regular Season Draw reaction: Group D is all about tradition

MIES (Switzerland) - Tradition and history were the strong common themes underlying the reaction of every team drawn in Group D of the 2020-21 Basketball Champions League Regular Season.

Group D includes AEK (GRE), Brose Bamberg (GER), Cholet (FRA), Fortitudo Bologna (ITA), Hapoel Holon (ISR), Pinar Karsiyaka (TUR), RETAbet Bilbao (ESP) while the eighth and final participant will emerge from the Qualification Rounds and it will be one out of Balkan Botevgrad (BUL), Tsmoki-Minsk (BLR), London Lions (GBR) or Neptunas Klaipeda (LTU).

AEK aim to be among teams with lofty goals in 2020-21 BCL


"We are very excited to be playing this year in such a good competition as the BCL which is evolving, improving and growing every year," said AEK head coach Ilias Papatheodorou.

"This evolution of the event has now added very good teams, many big names in European basketball. Of course this year the competition will be much bigger, there will be many teams with high goals and we should be one of them.

"We want to create a team that will play good basketball in the new year. With this in mind, we will create a team that will have a solid foundation and will fight for the win in each game.

"The group has very good and traditional powerhouses of European basketball. We will play with teams that have quality, have a lot of fans who follow them at home games and it is a very good opportunity for us to prove our quality as a team in the new year."

Bamberg look to stand out in group 'with a lot of tradition'


"It is an interesting group with a lot of tradition," said Brose Bamberg center Christian Sengfelder. "AEK Athens and Fortitudo Bologna are big names in European basketball while Israeli and Turkish teams are always difficult to play against.

"There are also two teams, Bilbao and especially Cholet, which are known for their good youth work. And yet our goal must be to look less at the others and only at ourselves. I want us to make it into the Play-Offs."


Bilbao relish chance to pay against historic European clubs again


"It is a tough group with historic teams in Europe: AEK, Fortitudo, Cholet, Karsiyaka, Bamberg," said RETAbet Bilbao Basket Sporting Director Rafa Pueyo. "All teams are strong and it's going to be difficult, but the rest of the groups are also tough."

"It will be a very attractive group for our fans, that are very educated in basketball, while from the sporting point of view it will be a tough assignment.

"It's important for us to be able to maintain the core of the team. Two years after earning promotion from LEB Oro (the second Spanish division) we are speaking again about playing in Europe, it's a big deal.

"Our task of building the team is also determined by the economic circumstances. Others don t look in the LEB market but we think there are very good players there that can help us reach our goals.

"The truth is that I like this group despite being difficult, because we have shown that we are capable of playing against everyone. We are a young and hungry team and facing well-established rivals will boost our confidence

"As far as travel is concerned the trips will be easy. Having the chance to play against Fortitudo, an historic team is going to be great. The same goes for AEK, but we have played in Greece against Olympiacos before, so it is particularly special for me to play in Bologna against an historic club with long tradition in Europe."


Cholet look forward to 'beautiful' games and reunion with Bilbao's Rousselle


"It’s a beautiful group with beautiful, high-level games said Cholet GM Thierry Chevrier. "Bologna is a historic team. We have already crossed paths with AEK in Europe. This will be a high-level game. We will have to be consistent. We will have a lot of short trips, to Bilbao, Athens, Bamberg, Bologna and that's a good thing.

"This group will appeal to Cholet supporters. We have clubs from different backgrounds with different cultures. It will be a unique experience for our young players, who will be facing with European powerhouses. It’s particularly motivating to be back in Europe with so many beautiful games. All the games will be high-level for Cholet, which is a renowned club but will have to fight hard in this group.

"There are two games that will have a very special flavor to us, the first against the Turkish club Karsiyaka, as Cholet coach Erman Kunter will face his compatriots. Erman is a person who has marked basketball with his playing and coaching careers.

"The second special game will be against Bilbao, as we will have a reunion with Jonathan Rousselle, who played in Cholet from 2014 to 2018. Jonathan left his mark on Cholet supporters, in particular with his baskets that came out of nowhere. It’s great to be able to meet Jonathan at 'la Meilleraie' [Cholet's home arena] but we won’t be there to let him win."


Fortitudo out to celebrate end of 12-year European wait with big games in 'places which love basketball'

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"We will face teams with a long track record and tradition, not only in their respective countries but also for what they have achieved in European competitions," said Fortitudo head coach Romeo Sacchetti.

"At the same time, even if we have been out of international competitions for some time, Fortitudo has what is needed to stay on the floor with them, it's in our DNA.

"We have the maximum respect for our seven opponents, but we don’t fear anybody. We’ll make a deeper evaluation of the teams once we know their rosters, it’s too early to say. We know we will travel to beautiful cities and places where they love basketball. We want to give our best and we know it will be a high-level competition from the very beginning," the Italian legend added.

"The fact that Fortitudo is back in European competitions make all of us very proud, since we’ve not been there in the last twelve years," commented Fortitudo FM Marco Carraretto.

"We don’t lack the motivation, regardless of our opponents. You just need to look at these clubs record in European competitions to acknowledge how challenging it will be for us.

"Every game will be tough, but we will be ready for it. As a first step we would love to go to the Play-Offs, so we want to be in the top-4 of our group at the end of the Regular Season."


Holon highlight importance of home crowds, anticipate fierce battle for two play-off spots


"It's a group that has clubs of enormous basketball tradition, storied clubs which represent countries where basketball is a very important sport, in France, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Greece, Germany and Israel," said Hapoel Holon Head Coach Stefanos Dedas.

"I think that both Karsiyaka and AEK are among the favorites to reach the Final Four. So I expect it to be the toughest group at the top with those two teams and probably small details could make the difference between the rest of the teams.

"It's also possibly the group where the homecourt factor will be the most important, as every single of the seven teams has very loyal fans, they are all used to playing in front of very supportive home crowds.

"As for us, Holon hasn't managed to qualify to the Play-Offs in previous editions of the BCL, so we hope to make it out of the Regular Season this time around."


Pınar Karsıyaka thrilled to be back in the BCL, eager to face off with traditional European clubs


"First of all, I hope the 2020-21 season will be good for all teams. After a two-year break, we are back in the BCL directly in the Regular season," said Pınar Karsıyaka Head Coach Ufuk Sarıca.

"We are in a group consisting of teams that are established in Europe like AEK, Brose Bamberg, Fortitudo Bologna, RETABet Bilbao Basket and Cholet Basket.

"Making an assessment at this stage, on paper, before the season starts, would make no sense. As Pınar Karsıyaka, we want to in the BCL this year the success that we had in FIBA Europe Cup last season. We are not afraid of anybody, we will be a team that fights till the end," the Karsiyaka and Turkish national team playcaller added.

"It is a pleasure to be back to the Basketball Champions League again after a two-year break," said Pınar Karsıyaka GM Selim Cınar. "Of course, the changing team quality and organizational structure at the point where the BCL arrives is an indicator that it will be a challenging and great season."

"We are in the same group with teams such as AEK, Bamberg, Bologna, Bilbao, Holon. We are a club with tradition and our opponents are the same, without a doubt.

"Our job will not be easy and I hope we have a good season without injury, free from the pandemic effect. Our biggest wish is that our fans can be with us in the arena as we go on the court. As for player signings, we aim to bring in a frontcourt foreigner player and extend our contract with Semih Erden in line with our budget," the Karsiyaka GM added.