Those of Peñarroya, led by Cook and McFadden, surpass AEK with solvency (85-74) thanks to their defense and the success from the triple. The club’s first title in five years of existence
San Pablo Burgos won the first title in its history at the OAKA in Athens in its fifth year of existence. Joan Peñarroya’s team, led by Omar Cook and with Tad McFadden as mvp, conquered the Basketball Champions League against AEK overwhelmed by the Burgos defense (85-74). CB Miraflores, who in 2015 picked up the baton from Tizona after three frustrated promotions to the ACB, opened the showcases to their epic in Greece in an exciting final channeled with a 35-12 run in the second quarter.
Burgos’ adventure in the ACB began in 2017, just three years ago, with Diego Epifanio on the bench —14th place the first year; 11th the following year. And last season, with Peñarroya in charge, the Burgos reached the semifinals of the Endesa League in the exceptional final phase of Valencia. “We put a lot of hope in the FIBA Champions League. Getting into the Eight Final was already the success we were looking for this year. And, in the League, the idea was to go as far as possible. We made a competitive squad, but nobody imagined this ”, analyzed the president, Félix Sancho, after the league feat. Sancho confessed then to be “dreaming awake.” The Burgos dream continued in Athens, after 10 minutes of restlessness and 30 of overwhelming dominance.
The Burgos team paid for the stage fright and conceded a 14-24 run in the first quarter. A brief mirage at the OAKA. Rice’s defensive tension and scoring effervescence (9 points in just three minutes) launched AEK as San Pablo tried to shake off their nerves. But the exit to the track of Cook instead of Renfroe spurred Peñarroya’s team and changed the air of the final in a jiffy. With splendid direction and an outstanding 4-for-5 on 3-pointers, the 38-year-old Brooklyn guard led a reaction that turned into a shakeup. The cast of AEK, with Langford, Zisis, Lojeski, Maciulis and company, was left shivering at the transformation of Burgos. The complacency of those of Papatheodorou was overwhelmed by Burgos pride. “We have gone crazy and Cook has not killed,” acknowledged the Greek coach at halftime.
McFadden’s agitation, Kravic’s rebounds and Salvo’s solidity supported the mission undertaken by Cook and served Burgos to complete a second museum quarter. From 14-24 to 37-33 in just five minutes. A 23-9 partial with 12 points from Cook and 5 from Salvo that grew incessantly until 35-12 before the trip to the changing rooms (49-36, m. 20). The voracious defense, the dominance in the rebound and the success from the perimeter (12 of 25 midway through the third quarter) gave flight to the Burgos dream while AEK was unable to overcome their confusion (59-41, m. 26). Langford tried to rouse his people, but no one followed his outburst. Another triple, this time from McFadden, San Pablo’s 15th in 30 pitches, put Peñarroya’s men on the road to the title (68-48, m. 29). The desperate charge of AEK did not have enough arguments to disturb Burgos like a cathedral.
After the suspension due to the pandemic, FIBA opted for a final to eight in the OAKA to resolve the competition, in which three Spanish teams appeared: Iberostar Tenerife (champion in 2017 and finalist in 2019), Casademont Zaragoza and San Pablo Burgos . Those from Peñarroya, following in the wake of their outstanding ACB final phase in which they fell in the semifinals against Barça, ate Hapoel Jerusalen in the quarterfinals (92-65), French Dijon in the semifinals (81-67) and the host AEK (85-74) in the final this Sunday, October 4, 2020, which will remain in the Burgos encyclopedia as the day that San Pablo won their first European title: the Basketball Champions League.