Franco Balbi, a symbol of the champion Flamengo
RIO DE JANEIRO (Brazil) - Flamengo became the champion of the BCL Americas’ second edition, and one of its symbols, in spite of not playing throughout the competition, is Franco Balbi. The Argentine point guard tore his right knee’s ACL in the first window of the tournament, but he lived the Final 8 stage with a beautiful tribute from his teammates.
"It took me by surprise, it shows the greatness each of them has, thinking of me in such a time of euphoria and celebration. It’s a great tribute from great people, and it shows how they are as teammates,” said Balbi, already holding his championship medal. After the final match when they defeated Real Estelí (84-80), the team, with Marquinhos and Olivinha as leaders, dedicated their triumph to Franco, even holding his jersey as a trophy.
Balbi had to watch it from Brazil, and he seemed to suffer more from the distance: “I lived the first two matches with calm, and I became a bit more nervous at the last one, but I knew the team was doing very well for that game. This team’s recipe is effort, dedication, professionalism, determination; I think those are the characteristics of our team. We don’t feel to pressure of knowing we have to fight for all the tournaments, but we know that’s what we’re here for.”
The Argentine, of 31 years of age, has a legacy in Flamengo, but does he realize this? “Not really, I try to always set a higher bar, press me and everyone else for more, and I also try to leave the younger players with an idea of what hard work is. Today, I’m in the first phase of my recovery, everything’s going well, a lot of physical therapy and strengthening exercises.”
Balbi has played in the “Mengao” since 2018, he’s winning titles, and he wants to return stronger than ever. Yes, he wants much more.