Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Adidas Next Generation Tournament
Kristjan Kangur, BC Kalev/Cramo
Nov 19, 2007
by Javier Gancedo, ULEBCup.com
Of the 11 undefeated teams through two weeks of the ULEB Cup regular season, perhaps the least expected among them is BC Kalev/Cramo, the first-ever Estonian representative in the competition. One of the youngest clubs in the competition, founded less than 10 years ago, Kalev has nonethless knocked off long-standing powers Panionios of Greece and Asvel Basket of France in its first two games. A homegrown, jumping-jack forward named Kristjan Kangur has had plenty to do with that early success. Kangur, just-turned 25, leads Kalev in scoring (19.5 ppg.) and rebounds (7 rpg.) while shooting a remarkable 70% or better whether he's taking two-pointers, triples or foul shots. As one of just two Kalev players with five or more seasons with Kalev, Kangur is also the perfect choice to talk about his team's great ULEB Cup arrival. "The key might be that we have a lot of people who know each other from last season," Kangur told ULEBcup.com. "The new guys are learning fast to play with us, too. I hope it keeps going."
How does it feel to be undefeated and leading your ULEB Cup group after two games?
"It feels good, of course, because nobody expected this kind of strong start. Everybody is surprised, not only our fans, but even ourselves. Personally, I didn't know what to expect because this is also my first year in the ULEB Cup. We played last year in the FIBA EuroCup, but this is a very strong league and I didn't expect to be so successful. Now I feel confident."
Why are you guys surprised at all yourselves?
"Like I said, we didn't know anything about the league because most of us never played in the ULEB Cup. We didn't know how strong it is or anything like that. Of course, we have to be surprised. Not only we are surprised, but we are also happy."
Not many fans know much about Estonian basketball. How is the level of the competition and the fan support there at the moment?
"There are two strong teams in Estonia these days, BC Kalev and Tartu Rock, or at least they are stronger than the other ones. The league is getting better, but Estonia is a small country and we don't have so many players to do well at the high level. We have a great crowd, even when it depends what game is on. It is not the same to play an Estonian League game as it is to play a Baltic League or ULEB Cup game, when the gym is packed."
Kalev started the ULEB Cup season on fire, scoring 30 points in the first quarter at home against Panionios. It sounds like the team was excited?
"I don't know, actually. I guess the team was excited, but I think that Panionios underestimated us a little bit. They started the game with a slow tempo and not very aggressive, and we played well and managed to be successful right away. The key might be that we have a lot of people who know each other from last season. The new guys are learning fast to play with us, too. I hope it keeps going and keep working hard to get better."
The second game, on the road at Asvel Basket in France, was a little opposite. You had to come back and win in overtime. How intense was that experience?
"It was very intense, that's for sure. The crowd over there was crazy and I think that around 4,000 people were at the game. They were making a lot of noise, trying to make us nervous but we didn't lose our temper. We tried to calm down, play our game and managed to win it in overtime."
Kalev has a 30-point quarter in each game so far. Is that normal for your team?
"Well, it goes up and down sometimes. I mean, it is not our thing, we don't usually score that many points in one quarter. At the same time, we have good scorers in the team so it can happen from time to time."
This is like new territory for a lot of your players. What does playing in the ULEB Cup mean for you guys?
"We are very happy to take part in this competition. The ULEB Cup is a strong league and gives us the chance to face some good teams out there. We respect all teams, of course, and we are very happy to play in the ULEB Cup. I think it is a great opportunity for the club and for all its players."