20 October, 2020
09 May, 2021
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We meet again: Group D coaches survey

MIES (Switzerland) - Casademont Zaragoza and Falco Szombathely were drawn together in the same Regular Season group in their maiden Basketball Champions League campaign and, a year later, the Spanish-Hungarian pair's paths coincide again at this stage of the competition.

They are joined in Group D of the 2020-21 Regular Season by BCL regulars Nizhny Novgorod and an entirely fresh face in Pszczólka Start Lublin, the Polish club who are embarking on their first ever European campaign.

We asked each coach 10 questions to help us preview Group D action, which tips off Wednesday October 20th:

Which teams in your group have the best roster and/or coach and why do you think so?

Diego Ocampo (Casademont Zaragoza): Nizhny Novgorod
Gasper Okorn (Falco Szombathely): For sure Zaragoza has the strongest roster of our group and is the first candidate for the top spot in our group. As far as coaches are concerned, I cannot express an opinion, I know personally the coach of Lublin and it's not fair to say something.
Zoran Lukic (Nizhny Novgorod): It’s very difficult to talk about rosters amidst the coronavirus pandemic circumstances. Teams can change rosters or reorganize their practice schedule due to this situation. That is why right now it doesn’t really matter what kind of players are on each team. The number of healthy players available will matter.
David Dedek (Pszczólka Start Lublin): Zaragoza have a good mix of experienced and young players, good coaches and they compete in the top league in Europe. Nizhny Novgorod are very close, for the same reasons.

Which games in your group would you recommend to a neutral basketball fan?

Diego Ocampo: I think all the games in the group will be very interesting because the level of the teams is very high.
Gasper Okorn: I am sure that all games will be very interesting to watch because each team plays a different style of basketball but if I had to pick just one to watch, it would be Zaragoza against Nizhny.
Zoran Lukic: All games in our group will be unpredictable. We can’t underestimate our opponents. [As I said above] the number of healthy players will matter.
David Dedek: Zaragoza against Nizhny Novgorod and Lublin against Falco.

Which games in this group will be the toughest for your team and why?

Diego Ocampo: It will for sure be the game at Nizhny because the trip is very long and very tough, both getting there and coming back to Spain, and the level of the opponent is very high, Nizhny has a very good team both offensively and defensively.
Gasper Okorn: The game in Novgorod will be very, very tough because of travel and the logistics of the trip, which the coronavirus pandemic makes even more difficult. Also the two games against Zaragoza will be very challenging for us.
Zoran Lukic: I respect all the teams in our group and consider them as tough opponents to play against.
David Dedek: Against Zaragoza because they are a tough opponent and at Novgorod because it's a long trip, as well as them being a tough opponent.

Name one or more players in this group which you think are really special (because they have a very specific skill, because they are difficult to defend, etc)

Diego Ocampo: Maybe Evgenii Baburin [of Nizhny], because he is a great player and when he creates an advantage for his teammates he is very dangerous, very difficult to stop. Right now in the VTB he averages over 5 assists per game and he helps his teammates play better basketball.
Gasper Okorn: I think there are a lot of good players but the Argentinian international, Nicolas Brussino is an excellent player and also Rasheed Sulaimon [both of Zaragoza] showed last season at Dijon that he is a very skilled player.
Zoran Lukic: No answer
David Dedek: No answer

Name one or more players in this group which you expect to be a positive surprise (can be a player on your team)

Diego Ocampo: I'd name two players, Zoltan Perl and Anton Astapkovich, I think they both have great talent.
Gasper Okorn: I am sure somebody will jump out and show something new or extra. Right now, from our team I can think of Kyan Anderson and I also expect some of our young Hungarian national team players, as well as Polish players from Lublin which are maybe not so well known on the European map.
Zoran Lukic: No answer
David Dedek: No answer

Which teams in this group play a style of basketball that you find interesting, and why?

Diego Ocampo: It's difficult to know because they have only played a couple of games each in their domestic leagues.
Gasper Okorn: I cannot comment on Lublin but for sure Nizhny and Zaragoza play very strong, physical basketball with great size. It's still early though to reply to this question at this stage.
Zoran Lukic: I really liked the way Zaragoza prepared themselves for the BCL Final 8. But after that, they have had a tough start in Liga Endesa.  Every team has its own style, that is why I wouldn’t like to name anyone specifically. Besides, the pandemic can influence the level of every team.
David Dedek: Zaragoza plays very fast, smart and effective basketball. 

Which team in this group will have the best defense and which one the best offense??

Diego Ocampo: It's more or less the same as above, I hope that we can play fast, but we're still building our team and finding our style.
Gasper Okorn: I think all four teams in this group are defense-oriented, last season Zaragoza's style relied on defense, we played very good defense statistically and we were in the top half of the BCL in those stats and Nizhny the same, they played good defense in their group and they have the same coach as last year.
Zoran Lukic: It’s hard to speak about offence and defense if you haven’t seen any games from your opponents since March.
David Dedek: Zaragoza the best defense, Nizhny Novgorod the best offense.


Which team in this group plays with the fastest pace and which one with the slowest pace?

Diego Ocampo: Same as above, for us I hope we play both quick and good basketball, but we will have to do it on the court, so we'll see.
Gasper Okorn: I can't answer that right now, it's still early.
Zoran Lukic: The team that will have 12 players on its roster will be the fastest. The team which will not have 12 available players, because of Covid-19, will be the slowest.
David Dedek: Zaragoza to be the fastest, Nizhny Novgorod to be the slowest.

If you could spend a couple of extra days in one of the cities you will visit in this group, or if you took out the whole team to a restaurant (the club president is paying!) which city would you choose?

Diego Ocampo: I think Nizhny Novgorod, it must be a great city to spend some time and I am sure they have a nice restaurant that the team can enjoy.
Gasper Okorn: We've played before in Zaragoza, so I have to choose between Nizhny and Lublin and since I like to travel and see different places I probably prefer Nizhny.
Zoran Lukic: I would choose Szombathely in Hungary because it’s close to my native Serbia.
David Dedek: I would choose Zaragoza.

Is the team that will win the 2021 BCL trophy in this group? (you can just give a yes or no answer, you don’t need to name the team)

Diego Ocampo: It's impossible to know, especially with the coronavirus situation which will make the season longer and tougher. It's in our hands to fight on the court.
Gasper Okorn: Let's say yes!
Zoran Lukic: Every team in the BCL could win the 2021 trophy.
David Dedek: No.