05 October, 2021
15 May, 2022
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One short step from the Basketball Champions League to the Olympic Games

SPLIT (Croatia) - The growth of the Basketball Champions League can be measured by various numbers of video views or social media interactions. But more importantly, by the rising number of high level national team players, with more and more of them finding a bigger role en route to the Olympics in Tokyo.

In the four FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments taking place all over the world, you will see a lot of familiar faces. In Kaunas, Lithuania we are almost certain a BCL man will be booking his flight to Tokyo, because AEK's Yanick Moreira is there with Angola, RETAbet Bilbao's Jaroslaw Zyskowski will represent Poland, Rytas' Arnas Butkevicius plays for the hosts, while Cholet's Gregor Hrovat is lining up next to Luka Doncic and the rest of Slovenian squad, led by ERA Nymburk's new head coach Aleksandar Sekulic.

Speaking of Nymburk, Czech Republic have their will get help from abroad, but still from within the BCL, with Bilbao's Ondrej Balvin and SIG Strasbourg's Jaromir Bohacik making the trip to Victoria, Canada. Lenovo Tenerife's Aaron Doornekamp is already there for the hosts, with Greece and Turkey getting their dose of players from AEK, and Pinar Karsiyaka, Darussafaka Tekfen and Tofas Bursa.

Dinamo Sassari had an MVP of the season contender in Marco Spissu, who is joined by Raphael Gaspardo and Michele Vitali to help Italy in Belgrade, but the biggest BCL battles will happen in Split, Croatia.

That is essentially because Zoran Lukic's boys from Nizhny Novgorod are becoming the core of the Russian national team.

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"I knew these guys before (I became their club teammate in Nizhny Novgorod). They deserve to be here, it's good that they have that experience from playing big games this season, all of them are talented players. For sure they have the motivation to play for the national team," Andrey Vorontsevich spoke about Evgenii Baburin, Ivan Strebkov, Artem Komolov and Anton Astapkovich.

But Russia will have their work cut for them by none other than the BCL Final 8 MVP - Vitor Benite. As if the hot shooting Brazilian wasn't a big enough threat on his own, he will have the one and only Marcelinho Huertas to find him in open spots, and even when the two of them miss a shot or two, Limoges' Bruno Caboclo is there to clean up the mess.

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Of course, it won't be all about Russia and Brazil, especially because Miro Bilan and Croatia are hosting the event, Robin Benzing is the team captain for Germany, while Mexico also have a concealed BCL weapon. It's Pako Cruz, who already played this competition with Fuenlabrada, and is now a new Tofas Bursa player, coming in as the top scorer of the Turkish League in 2020-21.


All of these players made the leap to the next level by showcasing their skills at an international level in the Basketball Champions League. Some of them prolonged their careers, some of them found new opportunities, but all of them will agree with what Vorontsevich said - playing big games during the season turns the talent into experience.

The best possible chain reaction if you want to pick up silverware along the way in your career.