Five things you need to know about the Finals
MUNICH (Germany) - It's hammer-time in the FIBA Europe Cup, with the last pair of games in the campaign set to determine the successor to last season's champions Umana Reyer Venezia.
If you read our two-part Finals preview on Dinamo Sassari and s.Oliver Wurzburg, you almost certainly already know more than five things about the upcoming Finals. But here are five essential facts that will help you better understand what's at stake in the two legs of the title duel.
Sassari and Wurzburg are both first-time Finalists in Europe
No matter which club lifts the FIBA Europe Cup trophy at the s.Oliver Arena in Wurzburg on May 1, it will be a history-making moment for the victors. Neither Sassari nor Wurzburg have ever been to the Final of a European competition before, let alone won it. In their best international campaign to date, the club from Sardinia bowed out from the Basketball Champions League in the Quarter-Finals in their best ever 2016-17 campaign, while Wurzburg are enjoying their first-ever Play-Offs appearance altogether.
Sassari are the only undefeated team in the Play-Offs
There's no coincidence to Sassari and Wurzburg finding themselves in the Finals, with both teams in exceptionally fine fettle since the turn of the year. The Gianmarco Pozzecco-coached Dinamo have not lost a single FIBA Europe Cup contest during the span, registering nine wins and a draw, while the 9-1 record accumulated by Wurzburg in 2019 also speaks for itself. Their lone defeat came in the road leg of the Quarter-Finals to Bakken Bears, 76-75.
Both teams saw early exits from the FIBA Europe Cup last season
Both teams played in the FIBA Europe Cup last season, but were eliminated just two games into their campaigns. After a tough draw at the start of the season, the Kresimir Loncar-paced Wurzburg were knocked out by Istanbul BBSK already in Qualification Round 1 with an aggregate score of 140-138. Meanwhile, Dinamo transferred to the competition from the Basketball Champions League for the Play-Offs, but met an identical fate shortly after. Having won the first leg of the Round of 16 tie against ESSM Le Portel by 17 points, they suffered a 100-81 defeat in France after overtime, losing the tie 155-153.
There's double glory on the line for Germany and Italy
Teams from only three countries have lifted the FIBA Europe Cup trophy, with France, Germany and Italy providing one champion each. This season's victors will put one of the last two atop the country leaderboard, with Wurzburg looking to add to Fraport Skyliners' success and Umana Reyer Venezia serving as an example for Sassari. Interestingly enough, the Frankfurt club overcame Italian opposition en route to the title in the inaugural 2015-16 season, beating Pallacanestro Varese 66-62 in a one-off title game in Chalon-sur-Saone.
Morrison and Richter stand to become first two-time champions
Were Wurzburg to win it all, Mike Morrison and Johannes Richter would become the first players ever to acquire a double FIBA Europe Cup crown. Having won the title with the Skyliners, they had successfully rekindled their Frankfurt connection in Wurzburg but their on-court partnership was put on hold after Richter suffered a potentially season-ending elbow injury in the first leg of the Semi-Finals in Varese. Averaging 7.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, it will be up to Morrison to complete the mission in the Finals.