06 February, 2021
to read

Burgos have a story worthy of the Hollywood treatment

BURGOS (Spain) - When the plane carrying Hereda San Pablo Burgos touched down at Madrid airport late on Sunday night, there was only thing spoiling the mood of the otherwise jubilant newly-crowned FIBA Intercontinental Cup champions - and it wasn't the fatigue of a transatlantic flight.

I think they should do a movie with our story - Hereda San Pablo Burgos president Felix Sancho

The players, the coaches, every single delegation member were just coming to terms with the fact they had accomplished a few hours previously, in Argentina, the club's second international trophy conquest, within five months of the first.

But they were not going to be able to celebrate it with their fans in a city that 'truly loves basketball' as the Burgos captain, Vitor Benite, put it.

Burgos defeated Argentinian side Quimsa 82-73 in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup Final in Buenos Aires on Saturday night, almost exactly five months to the day they beat AEK in the Basketball Champions League Final in Athens.

"The most difficult part about this victory and this year in general is that, due to the circumstances created by the pandemic, we can't have the chance to share the trophy with our fans and the city the way we would have liked," Benite, who was named MVP of the Saturday Final, said after his team's triumph in the Argentinian capital.

Who could have predicted that we would win the BCL and then come here to Buenos Aires and win the FIBA Intercontinental Cup - Joan Peñarroya

"But for sure our fans our enjoying this moment and this makes me very happy," the Brazilian international added.

The word 'fairytale' is thrown around a bit too often in sports stories nowadays, but Burgos really have every right to own the copyright. Or, better, yet, the movie rights.

"I think they should do a movie with our story," Burgos president Felix Sancho said.

"It might sound like I am joking, but all this is truly very big. What this club has achieved is nowhere near usual."

Indeed, what Burgos have achieved is nothing short of exceptional. They were admitted to LEB Oro (the Spanish second division) as recently as August 2015, replacing another club from the city, Club Baloncesto Tizona, and earned their promotion to the Spanish top flight in 2017.

In September 2019, Burgos embarked on their maiden European campaign by entering the Qualification Rounds of the 2019-20 BCL season and, almost a year later, they would conclude it as champions at the Final 8 in Athens.

"I don't think there is a team in the world that has conquered two titles at this stage of the year," Burgos head coach Joan Peñarroya said.

"Before this year started, who could have predicted that we would win the BCL and then come here to Buenos Aires and win the FIBA Intercontinental cup, it's a tremendous accomplishment.

Burgos are heading back to Madrid in less than 48 hours but this time around they won’t board a transatlantic flight.

In an interesting twist of fate, the 2021 FIBA Intercontinental champions are facing the 2020 champions of the competition, Lenovo Tenerife, in the Quarter-Finals of the Spanish Copa del Rey on Thursday.

"In less than a week we are playing to fight for another title and that's what we're going for," Peñarroya said.

"It's time for us to enjoy the players we have and the season we've been having. The only pity is we can't do that with our fans."

Burgos will go into the Thursday clash without point guard Alex Renfroe, who also missed the Saturday Final due to injury.

They will, however, take with them a valuable lesson from the Buenos Aires showdown, as they led Quimsa by 24 points at halftime but the Argentinian champions came back after the interval and reduced the deficit to just 5 points in the final stanza.

"I didn't expect anything less from Quimsa, I knew they would not give up, they fought hard until the end," Benite said.

"But this was a single-game Final, we did well to maintain control of the game and closed it out when it got tougher.

"We worked really, really hard to win this title."

"And the bottom line is that we are the champions."