02 October, 2023
24 April, 2024
10 Kaza Kajami-keane (NIN)
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Kajami-Keane, NINERS ready to defend lead: ''We still need to take care of business''

CHEMNITZ (Germany) - From playing in the German second division in 2020 to potentially being 40 minutes away from lifting a European title, NINERS Chemnitz has enjoyed quite the ascension in recent years.

Founded in 1999, the German side has climbed up the ranks and their 85-74 win over Bahcesehir College in the first leg of the FIBA Europe Cup Finals - witnessed by a sell-out crowd of 5,000 at Messe Chemnitz - has this emerging powerhouse on the brink of triumph.



"It's a nice win," said NINERS guard Kaza Kajami-Keane, who contributed 11 points to the opening victory.  "This crowd is probably the best I've played in front of professionally. Throughout the game, they support us to the fullest, they travel, and we're very appreciative of everything they do.

"You have to give kudos to the coaching staff, the GM, the scouts - everybody involved in putting this club in the position to be where it is now."

NINERS have impressed throughout the season - in what is only their second European campaign - with the first leg success taking their record to 15-2 in FIBA Europe Cup action.

Their strength in depth has been a particular highlight, and they outscored Bahcesehir 48-7 in points off the bench on Wednesday, whilst having six players in total in double figures in the 11-point victory.

Kajami-Keane, who was part of the valuable bench unit, added: "We’re pretty deep in that we play hard and play together. That's our biggest strength. We have 10 guys that could probably go play and start in other places.

"We play full court hard defense all game - so it's tough to go up against a team with that intensity for 40 minutes."

The Finals matchup has also pitted Kajami-Keane against fellow Canadian, and former college teammate, Phil Scrubb with the duo representing their country together in the February window of the FIBA AmeriCup 2025 Qualifiers.

"It's always a pleasure. We went to the same university [at Carleton], we work out together in the summer, so it's always fun playing against him. He's kind of like a role model for me from when I was at university."

It's advantage Kajami-Keane and the NINERS, but despite the first leg lead, they remain wary that the job is not finished yet, not by a long shot. Bahcesehir have proven formidable on their home court in Istanbul having mounted comebacks in both the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals.

"It's a good team we're playing against, so we can't leave anything on the table," the Canadian concluded. "We need to take control of what we can control and focus on the little things.

"We just have to now go over there and take care of business. It's important we go there with the right mentality: it's 0-0."

Of course, the NINERS don't have to win in Istanbul with their double-digit cushion, but it would be the perfect way to complete a title-winning season.