AEK and Flamengo at the steps of glory
RIO DE JANEIRO (Brazil) – AEK and Flamengo gave solid performances in the Semi-Finals, but now the moment of truth has arrived to define who will be the new FIBA Intercontinental Cup champion. The teams with clash against each other this Sunday in their search for the desired title, in a game that begins at 6:00 PM, local game time, at Arena Carioca.
Both squads were very complete in both sides of the court, which is why everything points to a head-to-head game, where the details will surely mark the difference.
The defense was AEK’s main hand against San Lorenzo in the Semi-Finals. They portrayed an intense game, with precise rotations, and showed strength under the backboard. The Basketball Champions League champions scored 35 points after 20 losses by their rivals and achieved 28 in second chance points after lowering 16 defensive rebounds. The Greeks also clearly established that they're a deep team thanks to the 49 bench points contribution made by their substitutes, mainly Delroy James, Dusan Sakota and Giannoulis Larentzakis.
These characteristics are the ones that Flamengo must try to put a stop to in order to impose their presence in front of their fans, just like they did in 2014 against Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv. The Brazilians are currently portraying the best defense of Brazil’s NBB, and against the Austin Spurs, in the Semi-Finals, they portrayed a strong attack, with 16 three pointers in 29 attempts, so it seems as though they do have the necessary tools.
“AEK is a very physical team and has 12 players in a very equaled level. It's going to be very difficult, but we hope to change the rhythm of the game. They like to play the five-on-five. It's always beautiful to have the pressure of playing at home. Being in a new final is very important. We hope people come and fill the stadium. We hope to add another title to this jersey and a second world championship, which is not something insignificant,” commented Flamengo's point guard, Franco Balbi, who in the Semi-Finals led his team with 19 points and five three-pointers.
For his part, AEK's Cuban small forward, Howard Sant-Ross, stated: “We feel the drive and we're highly motivated. As a team, we intend on winning everything we win and each one of us wants to demonstrate what we can contribute”.
There are few teams that have won the FIBA Intercontinental Cup in several occasions. Only Italy's Varese, United States’ Akron, and Spain's Real Madrid have done so, and now Flamengo have the great opportunity to be a part of this select group. This would be a great achievement for the club, whose rich history includes 44 state championships, 11 national championships (the last one in 2016), a Liga Sudamericana title (2009) and one in Liga de las Américas (2014).
Besides AEK's Champions League championship, they showcase eight Greek League titles (the last of which they achieved in 2002). They also rack up four Greek Cups and they're the first Greek team in winning an European title (the Champions Cup, in 1968).