When a player signs to a team, they automatically compete in the domestic league. For example, I signed to a Turkish team so I’ll also be playing all the other Turkish teams during the season. But then there are teams who compete in Europe in addition to their domestic league. These leagues are called Eurocup and Euroleague and teams participating compete against elite teams from countries all over Europe. Teams are able to join these leagues based upon their performance the previous season. In Turkey, the teams that finished top 3 in the league automatically move to Euroleague and those that finish 4-8 get entered into Eurocup competition. What’s great about playing in the European leagues is that you get to travel and also play twice a week instead of once.
In the case of my team last season, they finished 9th but this year we were given the opportunity to play Eurocup because there was a team above us that dropped out of the league. We had to first quality though by playing a team in Poland called Gdynia that was tied with us. The way it works is we play each other two times, once home and once away, and the tie breaker is points. So basically who ever ends up with the most points at the end of the two games advances.
The first game was on our home court. We came out on fire and at one point in the first quarter we were up 27-4. After that we had a couple players get into foul trouble and of course their team made a run, but our team stayed in control the entire game and ended up winning by 15 points. This was a great cushion for us going into the second game on the road.
Two days later we woke up at 3am to make the trip to Poland. It was a long trip with a 2 1/2 hour flight to Germany and then another 1 1/2 hour flight to Gdynia. But once we got there, we had a light practice, rested and even got walk around and see how nice the city was. Then it was game time.
Gdynia came out super aggressive and took the lead right away. They had their home crowd backing them and it was clear they came ready to play. Their club has a rich history of competing in Europe, so for them to not get in Eurocup would be a big disappointment. Their aggressiveness rattled our team a little but once we gained our composure, we were back in the game. At the half we were down by 5 and convinced we would still win the game. The second half came and both teams made runs, but late in the 4th quarter Gdynia got a 13 point lead on us. Now remember we had a 15 point cushion from the last game, so 13 points was way too close for comfort! They fought hard and actually ended up beating us by 8 points but that still wasn’t enough for them to advance to Eurocup over us.
Thankfully we played so well the first game, because that’s what saved us and officially got us a spot in Eurocup. Over the course of the next two months we will have pool play against 3 other teams from Russia, Romania and another Turkish team. And the teams that finish top two in the group will advance to the next round.
This is the first year in the club’s history to play Eurocup and I strongly believe with the team we have, we will go far. Eurocup season begins September 22nd, so stay tuned.