13 September, 2021
01 January, 2022
5 Derek Needham (MORN), 1 Paris Lee (BAMB)
to read

Tallinn group: Can anybody stop Brose Bamberg and Mornar Bar?

TALLINN (Estonia) - BC Kalev/Cramo host the tournament in Tallinn, Estonia, trying to prevent a Final between Mornar Bar and Brose Bamberg. Kapfenberg Bulls, Uniclub Casino - Juventus and Sporting CP join them in that effort.

Both Brose Bamberg and Mornar Bar have their sights set not only on reaching the Regular Season, but also on reaching the Play-Offs, so at least one of them will be massively disappointed not to reach the main round of the Basketball Champions League.

Uniclub Casino - Juventus are the only other team from this group that played the BCL so far. They reached the Play-In phase in 2016-17, losing out to AEK, and finished 6th in group stage in 2017-18, transferring to FIBA Europe Cup, where they lost in the Quarter-Finals.

Sporting CP, Kapfenberg Bulls and BC Kalev/Cramo are aiming to make history and reach the Regular Season for the first time ever.

Kapfenberg Bulls v Uniclub Casino - Juventus

The Austrians are facing the Lithuanians. Just by reading that sentence one gets an idea that based on tradition, there won't be a lot of pressure of expectations on the Bulls. That could be a good thing for the Kapfenberg side, aiming to put Austria on the basketball map.

"We want to represent our country, Styria, and our club in the best possible way. Even if it is a great organizational and financial expense, only if we compete internationally can we develop and grow. That is our goal," general manager Michael Schrittwieser said.

No matter what happens in Estonia, the "best possible way" is already happening. Out of 14 first team players on the Kapfenberg Bulls squad for 2021-22, eight of them went through their own academy. Joshua Scott is the name you should write down already in your notebook.

Juventus have powerful weapons of their own, whether we're talking about Martynas Gecevicius or Mindaugas Kupsas' international experience, or about Patrick Miller's panache and ability to take over a game.

Miller has been amazing for Ironi Ness Ziona, guiding the Israeli club to international glory, as they won the 2021 FIBA Europe Cup. Miller averaged 15.6 points, 6.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game in that competition, and increasing his scoring average to 17.7 in the Israeli League.

Sporting CP v BC Kalev/Cramo

The Portuguese champions were within an inch of reaching the Regular Season in 2020, losing the Final of the Qualifying Rounds to Igokea by six. They were desperately unlucky to be drawn in the same group as the FIBA Europe Cup 2021 Finalists in Ironi Ness Ziona and Arged BM Slam Ostrow Wielkopolski, losing two games by a combined seven points and dropping out in Group Stage.

All of those close defeats from the 2020-21 season made them even hungrier to reach the summit this time around. Travante Williams has turned into a club legend since joining the club in 2019 and averaging 17.1 and 16.3 points per game over the last two domestic seasons.

Team captain Joao Fernandes arrived at the same time. The 28-year-old center knows there is no room for errors in Estonia, especially when facing the hosts of the event. He is looking forward to the game, because BC Kalev/Cramo are a team that enjoys a more physical battle.

"In our championship, we are a physical team and we are used to that in training too. I believe that this will not be a problem, knowing that they are a very strong and intense team, but we are prepared for that. We know that a defeat makes us go home, but we have to do our job and we're going with the goal of winning, whether it's one or three games," Fernandes said.

BC Kalev/Cramo have a team that is built around their Latvian and Estonian players, which we can both count as domestic players since the club won the Latvian-Estonian League last season. Ojars Silins, Tanel Kurbas, Martin Dorbek, Kristjan Kitsing are getting help from some high-level international players that we have already seen in the BCL.

Kamari Murphy is one of them, guaranteeing dunks will happen when they take the court, starting on September 13. He played the 2019-20 season with Rasta Vechta, putting together three games in double digits in the BCL.

Brose Bamberg and Mornar Bar

There's not a lot to be said about these two. Brose Bamberg have been one of the biggest teams of the millennium in Germany, while Mornar Bar are getting more and more ambitious with each passing season, reaching the Semi-Finals of the Adriatic League in 2021, ahead of juggernauts like Partizan Belgrade, Cedevita Olimpija, Mega Soccerbet or Cibona.

Johan Roijakkers is entering his second season as the head coach for Bamberg, and has a roster that's looking impressive on paper. Patrick Heckmann, Elias Baggette, Dominic Lockhart, Christian Sengfelder, Kenneth Ogbe are all players who can win a game by themselves if and when they get hot.

But with Frankie Ferrari, Omar Prewitt and Trevis Simpson, they have three new arrivals who know all about performing on the BCL level. Ferrari was here with BAXI Manresa, Prewitt played this competition with Aris, Banvit and Nymburk, while Simpson flew high for Rasta Vechta in 2019-20.

Bamberg will play the winner of Kapfenberg Bulls v Uniclub Casino - Juventus in the Semi-Finals, while Mornar Bar await the better of Sporting CP v BC Kalev/Cramo on the other side of the draw.

Pavicevic brothers are relying on their team chemistry, having kept the core of Nemanja Gordic, Marko Jeremic, Aleksandar Lazic, Strahinja Micovic, Sead Sehovic and Nemanja Vranjes together. The new guys in the backcourt are Corey Davis Jr and Trey Lewis, who were incidentally BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque's point guards in seasons 2019-20 and 2020-21, Davis coming in after Lewis.

With Mornar's defensive schemes, it was extremely important to get Taylor Smith back to Bar for another season. The 30-year-old American is another frequent flyer, responsible for some of the most spectacular blocks of the season in the Adriatic League - he averaged 1.9 blocks in just 23 minutes per game in 2020-21!

The winner of the Tallinn group will join Regular Season Group F. Teams that are already in there are Filou Oostende, SIG Strasbourg and Tofas Bursa.