December 23, 2014
Friday, April 16, 2010
April 17, 2010

Hello, Eurocup fans! Welcome to's live blog, that will run from now until a champion is crowned on Sunday night here in Vitoria, Spain. If anyone needed proof of the kind of devotion the Eurocup Finals can generate, there is no better example that what is happening right now with the amazing fans of Alba Berlin. Due to the volcano eruption in Iceland that has grounded air traffic across Northern Europe, many of the 500 or so Alba fans who had bought tickets for the Eurocup Finals were stuck at the moment of trying to fly here on Friday.

Alba fans ready to board the bus Vitoria-bound!

But not all of them let a sky full of volcano ash stop them. A bus with 55 fans left the German capital late afternoon on Friday to make the non-stop 24-hour ride south to Vitoria in hopes of arriving on time for Saturday's semifinal, in which Alba plays Bizkaia Bilbao Basket at 20:45 CET. Another, smaller group, drove to Munich and caught one of the last planes from that airport for Madrid, where they plan to rent cars and drive several hours to Vitoria to support their team. When the bus arrives in Vitoria for the game on Saturday, they can expect a lot of solidarity from their hosts. Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu will welcome the Alba fans personally at Fernando Buesa Arena, whose home club, Saski Baskonia, will give them a hospitality room with free food and drink. Follow their remarkable journey on this blog the rest of the weekend. These are the kind of fans who make European basketball unique!

"I can't tell you how proud we are of our fans," Alba coach Luka Pavicevic said at practice on Friday night. "They support us all year in Berlin and on our road trips. But this is an extraordinary effort for any fans in any sport. We can't wait to see them."

In retrospect, it was very fortunate that Alba planned its trip to arrive by mid-day Thursday. Later that day, due to the skies across Norther Europe darkening with ash, flights were being cancelled in bunches at Berlin airport and any others that were close enough for Alba to try to reach. Today, in another sign of solidarity with their fans, Alba players recorded video messages of sympathy for the fans that can't make the trip and encouragement for those who are embarking on their day-long oddysey to reach the Eurocup Finals.

Among the things the make weekends like this special is how the European basketball family comes together, with old friends catching up with each other - maybe even helping each other out. That was the case on Thursday, when in the lobby of the headquarters hotel for the teams, one could see two old friends with an amazing five Euroleague titles between them enjoying a rare chance to spend an hour together. It was rare because both men are now coaching at the highest levels of the sport in different countries. One was Alba boss Luka Pavicevic and the other the head coach of the local Euroleague team here, Dusko Ivanovic of Caja Laboral. The two of them were members of the legendary Jugoplastika Split teams that were Europe's last triple champions, between 1989 and 1991. It just so happens that Pavicevic's opponent on Saturday is the so-called "home" team of this weekend, Bizkaia Bilbao Basket, about 50 kilometers from Vitoria and therefore a local rival of Ivanovic's team. What's a little scouting between old friends?

Posted: Friday, April 16, 19:30 CET
PrintPrint SendSend ShareShare