Sacrifice could earn Burgos a shot at back-to-back BCL titles, says two-time champion Kravic
BURGOS (Spain) - Barely an hour had elapsed from the Hereda San Pablo Burgos triumph over AEK in the 2019-20 Basketball Champions League Final, when an elated Joan Peñarroya was asked to reveal a secret.
What, the question went, did the Burgos head coach had to do in order to transmit a winning mentality to his players?
If the team is winning, then everyone looks good - Dejan Kravic
Peñarroya shrugged his shoulders. "We went out and found players who have a winning mentality, who are warriors," the Spanish coach said. "A player either has it or he doesn't, and there is nothing any coach can do if a player doesn't have it in him."
One of those players that Burgos singled out for those reasons was Dejan Kravic, the big man who had already helped Segafredo Virtus Bologna lift the coveted trophy in 2018-19.
"Winning mentality should be the mindset all players have," the 30-year-old center told championsleague.basketball
There are definitely common features between Virtus Bologna and San Pablo Burgos - Dejan Kravic
"In order to have it you have to put your ego aside and give your all towards the team.
"If the team is winning, then everyone looks good.
"I think the team pursued me [in the summer] because I fit in well with the coach's plans and philosophy and they saw something in me that they hoped would help the team have a successful season."
Former teammates Dejan Kravic and Kevin Punter are the only players with two BCL gold medals in their trophy case
Burgos saw these qualities in Kravic during the course of the 2019-20 season, when he had an excellent season with fellow Spanish side Obradoiro. In 2018-19, when he was on Bologna, the Serbian coincided with Kevin Punter who had already won the BCL title with AEK in 2017-18.
"There are definitely common features between that Virtus Bologna and San Pablo Burgos," Kravic said.
We were maybe the eighth favorite out of all eight teams in this tournament, so we were always the underdogs and we played like the underdogs in all three games - Dejan Kravic
"Being in the Final 4 with Bologna I felt that we wanted it more than everyone else.
"We were not the favorites in either game but we played with our hearts out for 40 minutes and we left it all on the floor, our defense was intense and we never trailed in either game.
"I saw similarities with Burgos [at the Final 8 in Athens] because we were never satisfied, we always wanted more and more until we reached our ultimate goal, which was the championship.
"We were hungrier than any other team and we were also never the favorites.
"We were maybe the eighth favorite out of all eight teams in this tournament, so we were always the underdogs and we played like the underdogs in all three games."
The BCL is more loaded this season than ever before, so we have no choice but to play with 110 percent energy, effort and focus in every single game, we need to believe in each other, otherwise we won't stand a chance - Dejan Kravic
Punter is now at Italian powerhouse Olimpia Milano so Kravic is right now the only player with a chance at a BCL threepeat. To achieve that feat of course, Burgos would have to become the first club to win back-to-back BCL titles, something particularly challenging when we consider that the Castilla club also aim to go further this year in both the Spanish cup and league, where they finished in fourth place in 2019-20.
"I don't think it will be easy for us to go back to back in the BCL but it will definitely remain a huge goal, just like the Copa del Rey and the Liga Endesa," Kravic said.
"This season every game is very important, because we want to win every game.
"The BCL is more loaded this season than ever before, so we have no choice but to play with 110 percent energy, effort and focus in every single game, we need to believe in each other, otherwise we won't stand a chance.
"At the end of the day we need to sacrifice our stats and individual success for the betterment of the team.
"This will help us to have a chance to go back to back and for myself to have a threepeat and become the first person with three gold medals, that would be an incredible feeling."