Antwerp Giants defeated Brose Bamberg 72-58 to take home the Champions League Bronze Medal. Tyrese Rice helped the Germans to a slim 18-15 lead after ten minutes, but Jae’Sean Tate scored 10 second quarter points to give the host’s a 37-26 halftime advantage. Victor Sanders and Tyler Kalinoski pumped up the offense in the third frame while Thomas Akyazili closed out the win for Roel Moors’s squad. Tate led all scorers with 16 points while Kalinoski had 10 points to pace Antwerp. Louis Olinde scored 12 points for Bamberg.
1) This was a huge win for Antwerp in front of a huge home crowd of 17,000 fans in country where Basketball is nowhere’s near the top of the sports list. Now that’s a good job. The Champions League and Antwerp were able to put fannies in the seats for a 3rd place game which felt for all intents and purposes like a final and they must get a boat load of credit for that. So congrats on a great show. How will Belgium basketball take this win and build off of it? Captain Dave Dudzinski talked about that point, “It’s amazing how the fans came out for us today. We’re so happy that the fans got to share this moment with us. As far as the country, there were so many fans and young people here today that they will remember this for the rest of their lives.” Belgium Star Ismael Bako echoed his teammates view, “The great thing about today’s game wasn’t just that it was Antwerp, but the whole country of Belgium was behind us, every team was here to support us. Next season I believe that Belgium basketball will be a bit more on the map and I just hope that more Belgium teams will have a chance to be in a competition like the Champions League to prove something.”
2) How exciting was the win for Antwerp? Very exciting! They dissected Bamberg who didn’t look very interested to be here today in a 3rd place game and made sure to play good basketball after a shaky first quarter. Bako talked about what the victory meant to him, “I’m still letting this win sink in, but it’s an amazing feeling. We were an average Belgium team but we came so far in the final four. But the whole project we did from beginning to end was amazing. Each game we really grew as a team. It was amazing what we did.” Dudzinski also spoke about the game that was, “We played some beautiful basketball today. We really, really enjoyed this game and everybody contributed in their own way and showed today on the scoreboard. We know that we can play at a high level and we have to keep that in mind as we finish out the regular season and go into the playoffs. If we can do that we will be just fine.”
3) What was the turning point for Antwerp to advance all the way to take home the bronze medal? It was none other than the win over Hapoel Jerusalem which in itself was a turning points for Jerusalem as that game forced them to play Tenerife in quarterfinals. Should they have won that game they would have played a more favorable opponent. But oh well, we can’t cry over split milk. For one team it was the turning point for the good and that’s great. “The game at home against Jerusalem was the key turning point for us,” explained Bako. “I think that win was a statement and gave us a boost. Everyone then knew what we were capable of and then we just started growing.” I heard the same from a number of journalists as well. However, Coach Roel Moors also thought the turning point was the Jerusalem game, but it was actually the blow out loss suffered in Israel. “Right after that game we got killed in a league game at home and then suddenly everything clicked and we went on our way.”
I heard from a little birdy at the Final Four that Jerusalem has interest in Jae’Sean Tate who set the tone for Antwerp. I asked Ohio State Buckeye about a potential move, “I haven’t heard from them but right now I’m focusing on the now. Winning another championship with Antwerp and we will see what happens. Hopefully I’ll get back to the NBA Summer League and give it my best shot. I’m still young and we’ll see from there.” How about his fine play? “I just bring energy and effort crashing the offensive boards. But it’s really thanks to my teammates for finding me and the ball just started to go in. I couldn’t do it without my coaches and teammates.”