The miracle of Casademont Zaragoza in the Euroleague |  Basketball |  Sports

The miracle of Casademont Zaragoza in the Euroleague | Basketball | Sports

The miracle of Casademont Zaragoza in the Euroleague |  Basketball |  Sports

The scene, through the force of the moment, became iconic. Vega Gimeno, the captain of Casademont Zaragoza, grabbed a microphone, walked to the center of the field at the Príncipe Felipe Pavilion and shouted: “We are going to the third game!” Thank you, thank you, thank you and 800,000 times thank you. “We are all going to Turkey next week to win this tie.” The public, more than 5,600 spectators this Wednesday, exploded with pure happiness. His team had just beaten the all-powerful Turkish Cukurova (57-56), vice-champion of the Euroleague, in the second match of the draw to reach the Final square. And yes, they were going to the third match, the tiebreaker which will be played this Wednesday (5:30 p.m.) at the Servet Tazegül Arenac, a pavilion named after a Turkish legend, Olympic and world taekwondo champion, and which will bring together no less of 7,850 people, those who attended the first match (79-62).

Everyone in Zaragoza knows that surprising Cukurova again is a utopia. But there, Vega Gimeno reappears with a sentence full of meaning: “We did not travel here to lose”. You’re right. Casademont Zaragoza is one of the most powerful clubs in Spain, but it is only modest in Europe. The squad and the technical team of Carlos Cantero, their coach, did not travel to Mersin, almost a thousand kilometers south of Istanbul, on a comfortable charter flight. His commute Monday took 15 hours. At seven thirty in the morning they took a bus from Zaragoza to Barcelona, ​​from there they flew to Istanbul, where they took another plane to the Mersin region, and from there another bus to the city ​​where one of the most important games in its short history is located. The players, who almost lost their suitcases during the transfer, did not arrive at the hotel until half past ten in the evening.

The Casademont Zaragoza is a invention recent. Women’s basketball was established in the Aragonese capital at the beginning of the century with the Mann Filter. A team which has taken up residence in the Siglo XXI pavilion and which has grown alongside personalities like Elena Tornikidou, Marina Ferragut and Lucila Pascua. This club, which became third in the League (2002-2003 season) and runner-up in the Queen’s Cup (2004-2005), experienced difficulties between 2000 and 2013, when, strangled by debt, it disappeared. His last years, with references such as Cristina Ouviña, Lucila Pascua or María Pina.

The club, which already had a men’s team within the ACB, decided to create the women’s section four years ago. It didn’t seem like they could win the titles ahead of Perfumerías Avenida, Spar Girona or Valencia Basket, but last year they hosted the Queen’s Cup and their story took a radical turn. Casademont Zaragoza, after beating Valencia in the semi-final and Avenida in the final, was proclaimed champion in a Príncipe Felipe filled with 10,800 spectators. It was the presentation of Crimson Tide. From that moment on, there was no major match in Zaragoza that did not bring together 6,000 fans. The city’s sports fans, notably the second division football team, rallied, as Vega from Turkey recalls. “It happened little by little. I have been at the club for three years and each season it has grown. At the beginning, no more than 300 or 400 people came to see us, but today the average is almost 6,000. This was done very carefully and we, after each match, spend 30 or 40 minutes taking photos and signing autographs. They instilled in us this philosophy: to return the support they give us. We also notice this affection in the street, and it has given us a great sense of responsibility.

The captain knows that without the victories of Cantero’s team, renewed until 2026, the Red Tide would not exist, but she thinks there is something more. “We have a very dynamic and fun way of playing. In recent years, they have recruited players with great character, who celebrate baskets, turn towards the crowd and connect with the stands. “After so much time spent in basketball, I had never experienced something like this,” explains this 33-year-old woman, daughter of a handball player and sister of a professional futsal goalkeeper, who left her native Valencia at the age of 14 to enter the Blume residence.

In one of his teams, Rivas Ecopolis, he played in the Euroleague final in 2012, from which the last Spanish European champion, Ros Casares Valencia, emerged. A year before, Halcón Avenida Salamanca won, and in 1992 and 1993, Dorna Godella added two consecutive titles. There was no other. Casademont Zaragoza, led by its captain, Mariona Ortiz and Leo Fiebich (Women’s League MVP), still has options, even if it means defeating a rival with players as powerful as Marina Mabrey, Kahleah Cooper, Stephanie Mavunga or the Spanish María Araujo. “A player on her team earns as much as almost our entire squad, or almost. Ours has a lot of merit,” concludes Vega.

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