BCL champion Delany proves his worth at the FIBA World Cup
MANILA (Philippines) - Up until a year ago, the wider basketball audience had no idea what Finn Delany could do on the basketball court. But a triumphant season with Telekom Baskets Bonn made him a recognizable figure in Europe, and in August-September 2023 he proved his worth at the highest level, the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The Basketball Champions League title-winning forward was arguably the best player for New Zealand in Manila. He poured in 16.4 points per game, adding 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists to his name, on 44.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Delany stood his ground against the United States, battled against Rondae Hollis Jefferson and Jordan in an overtime classic which went New Zealand's way, and was inspirational in the Tall Blacks' game against Greece, where they were oh-so-close to reaching the Round of 16.
"It's a very high level tournament. We competed like we always do, our mission and my mission was to turn that competing against world powers into beating the world powers, and going forward. We didn't achieve that, but we move forward," Delany said after ending the World Cup campaign on a high note.
With his 27-point performance against Egypt, he secured his country's place in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year, and earned himself the TCL Player of the Game award.
He just got used to winning on the big stages, that's all. Everyone who watched him in the BCL last season knew he had it in him after a dominant season with Telekom Baskets Bonn.
"You ask me about Bonn? I don't know how long you've got, I could just keep talking great things about that place, the people, the players, the coaches," Finn said with a genuine smile lighting up the room in the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila.
"Truly, I could go on and on. It was an amazing year, a formative year for me. I've strengthened my beliefs in all the things around basketball, about how to win. It was very important for me as a player, just seeing players in Europe, being around players in Europe and winning in Europe is tough, so it was a great year."
As it usually happens after a Cinderella story, Telekom Baskets Bonn are now headed into a rebuilding phase. A lot of the players followed former coach Tuomas Iisalo to Paris, but Finn is not one of them, moving back home to the New Zealand Breakers.
"A different path. I'm completely honest whenever I'm asked this, I don't take for granted how hard it is to reunite with people, but I hope that one day I can work with Tuomas and those players again, I would be very lucky," he said.
He remembers every detail of that amazing BCL run, although he'll admit "the Final Four weekend is a bit hazy." The memories will stay alive, because the Telekom Baskets Bonn 2022-23 Season chat is still very much alive and kicking online.
"We've still got that WhatsApp group. It was a very close team, incredibly close team, of course we stay in touch."