Curry, Donar Groningen not planning on being just tourists in Venice
GRONINGEN (FIBA Europe Cup) - Donar Groningen might not have been on the shortlist of FIBA Europe Cup favorites before the start of the season, but the hard-working Dutch side from up north are now among the last teams standing.
Enjoying the best-ever European campaign in the club's history, the Erik Braal-coached Groningen crew have continued to make plenty of noise in their maiden Play-Off appearance on the international stage.
"I hope we are showing the world what type of team we really are. We have to savor the moment, it's a special one for sure."Brandyn Curry
Having eliminated the Romanian champions U-BT Cluj-Napoca in the Round of 16, Donar went on to knock out Mornar Bar in the Quarter-Finals with a landslide win in the second leg at the MartiniPlaza. In both rounds of the Play-Offs, their aggregate victory margin was the best in the competition.
The next hurdle will be the toughest one yet for Donar, with Italian powerhouse Umana Reyer Venezia standing in their way of the Semi-Finals.
"Can't wait to get there [to Venice]," Donar point guard Brandyn Curry told Donar TV after a 101-74 home win against Mornar in front of 4,350 spectators. "I heard it's a beautiful city and I'm looking forward to this next challenge. I'm glad we were able to handle our business and move on to the final four. This is what we have been working for, so I'm definitely looking forward to going there and getting in this battle."
Sightseeing, however, will not be at the top of the priority list for Curry and his Donar teammates, who will be heading to one of Italy's most famous tourist destinations in a couple of weeks.
"Being a part of this team is special and what we're accomplishing is truly unbelievable."Brandyn Curry
"People in the locker room, we might have been the only ones who believed it, honestly. But I hope we are showing the world what type of team we really are. We have to savor the moment, it's a special one for sure," said the 27-year-old playmaker, who has emerged as the central figure for coach Braal on the court.
"We have been working so hard all season long and the hard work is really paying off for us to get to this level. It's not over yet, we still have some work to do, but I think we showed how dangerous of a team we can be. We really feel confident as a group right now."
The not-so-secret recipe to Donar's success? Team chemistry; spoonfuls of it.
"After playing a couple of years overseas, I've been a part of a couple of teams in my career and it's not often that you get a group of guys like this. All of the guys here are so unselfish, everybody puts the team first and that's not always the case everywhere you go. Here, everybody is truly invested in winning," Curry pinpointed.
"We all get along. I've built some great friendships that I know will last long after basketball is over. I really love being a part of this team. Showing up every day, you look forward to going to practice, to lifting together. It's great to be with these guys. That's why I think it's special. It doesn't happen everywhere you go. Being a part of this tremendous organization and these fans, this is truly a special spot."
A team-first approach has been what has made Donar click in the FIBA Europe Cup
Having had to hold off any major celebrations after winning the Dutch Basketball Cup just a couple of days previously, the close-knit Donar team can now take a short break to appreciate what they have already been able to accomplish this season.
"Yeah, we might celebrate this one," offered Curry, breaking into laughter. "Being a part of this team is special and what we're accomplishing is truly unbelievable. This is a big achievement. We'll celebrate the moment as a team, but then it's on to the next one."
Having made it so far in the FIBA Europe Cup, Donar may be playing with house money, but their appetite to cash in on a possible European trophy has only increased every step of the way.