The Basketball Champions League it’s back. The European competition returns from this week to Unicaja’s day-to-day life with a very demanding second group, in which the Greens will seek first place in Group K, which will guarantee them a field advantage in the subsequent quarterfinal play-off.
Unicaja shone in the first phase. His balance of 5-1 does not admit possible debate about his good European staging. But all that is already past and worth nothing. As of now, the 16 teams that are still alive start from scratch.
The greens share a group in this second group with Galatasaray, Limoges Y AEK of Athens. Ahead there is a group of six games in which the margin of error is almost nil. There will be six finals. Three now, before the Cup, and the other three after the cup tournament and the subsequent break of the FIBA Window in February
The first stone on the way to the quarterfinal play-off comes tonight at Carpena against AEK (8:30 p.m.). Those from Athens are a serious team, with a deep bench and they are not going to make it easy. But there is no option to fail. Especially in home games you have to be forceful. The group lead demands 4-5 wins. And Carpena has to be key to achieving the goal. You have to win the 3 home games and then scratch as much as possible at home.
Ibon Navarro has the good news that he has his 12 players fit to play. Darío Brizuela was out last weekend due to his recent paternity, but tonight he will be one more at Carpena to look for the first victory of this Round of 16. He will also play and will debut this season in Europe with the green shirt, the last in to get, Yankuba Sima.
The team, despite not giving its best version in Manresa last weekend, beat Baxi in a match in which it showed character and had that bit of luck in the decisive minutes that you need to win in a final toss-up like the one in the Nou Congost.
The recipe to add today against AEK the desired 1-0 in the table seems clear: defend to the fullest from minute 1 to 40, dominate the rebound to be able to run and distribute minutes among all the players so that the rhythm is hellish from beginning to end. This Unicaja wears down its rivals with that endless rotation that Navarro has on his squad. And tonight could be one of the keys to ending the opposition of an AEK that arrives in Malaga without pressure.
The truth is that this BCL 22/23 is especially exciting in the compositor environment. Fighting for a title again, after the journey through the desert that the team and even the club have gone through, is well worth everyone’s effort. There is a desire to continue growing in Europe and starting tonight is the time to prove it.
What atmosphere will there be in the Martín Carpena at the premiere of the Round of 16? Well, ticket sales have not been bad at all. For a weekday and a European competition match (almost always with less noise in the stands), it can be predicted that the “green tide” will come in large numbers to help their own.
The moment of truth in Europe is already here. Unicaja resumes its European path convinced of its possibilities and its status as a contender for everything in this FIBA competition. Starting at 8:30 p.m., Unicaja-AEK. The BCL gets serious.