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Basketball: Niners in the Europe Cup: The Chemnitz market square is still free

Jonas Richter (above) and the Niners Chemnitz have shone so far in the Europe Cup. Now the semi-finals are coming up.

Photo: imago/Alexander Trienitz

Jonas Richter doesn’t want to think too much about what his team has already achieved this season. The captain of the Niners Chemnitz, second in the Bundesliga, is currently conquering basketball Europe with his team. Although the Europe Cup is considered the third highest European competition, the surprise club from Saxony is considered a contender for the title ahead of the semi-final first leg this Wednesday at Bilbao Basket (8 p.m. on youtube.com/fiba). Argentinian coach Rodrigo Pastore’s team has won 13 of the 14 European Cup games so far this season.

In the quarterfinals, the newcomer swept past Casademont Zaragoza and dominated his opponent twice. »The way we have been playing the entire season so far is a great success. I don’t want to think about it that much, I just want to play every game as well as possible,” says the Chemnitz-born judge. “Otherwise,” he fears, “there will be a reality check.” Like a sleepwalker on the gable, it’s better not to wake up the Niners right now. The heights to which the long-standing second division team has risen and how naturally and confidently the Chemnitz team move on the international stage is dizzying.

Niners want to blank out crowds

The 2.07 meter man Richter has been with us all the way since 2014 and now faces the challenge with his team of surviving in the Bilbao Arena, which can hold up to 10,000 fans. A game in front of the often loud crowd in the Basque Country that he will certainly not forget for the rest of his life. After the first tour of the hall in the morning, the 26-year-old said: “The arena is very impressive. It will be a matter of blocking it out a bit, putting the focus on ourselves and not allowing ourselves to be impressed by such a backdrop.« Richter himself is not yet sure whether this will succeed. He is “excited to see how we deal with it.” The Niners have never played in front of so many spectators this season.

The captain has to slow himself down so as not to lose focus. But those in charge and fans at home dream of the first major title that the club could celebrate together with the Chemnitz team. To be on the safe side, the city’s rulers have already asked when they have to keep the market square and the town hall balcony clear. A title won together would be the reward for an extraordinary season in which Chemnitz really stirred up the establishment in this country. Although there were no wins against Alba Berlin and FC Bayern in the Bundesliga, the Niners otherwise plowed through the league with impressive consistency and quality. If they end up in third or fourth place, the championship semi-finals this year are quite realistic.

The Saxons do not set a priority. They approach both competitions on equal terms. »We want to play every game as best as possible with the best lineup. The load control then takes place between games in training,” explains Richter. Given the success, it is currently no problem at all to keep energy and motivation levels high, despite the immense number of games. Semi-final games like the one against Bilbao were even more motivating, said the captain. He doesn’t want to talk about the possible finals yet, but Richter confidently announces: “I trust us to win against Bilbao.” Even with a narrow defeat, Chemnitz would still have everyone in the second leg at home in the exhibition hall in a week Options.

Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer announced last weekend that he wanted to support the construction of a hall in the middle of the city. A site that partly belongs to the Free State should be considered. So Jonas Richter & Co. don’t have to fear the reality check: It’s very real how the Chemnitz basketball players are currently developing the still young basketball location.

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