Five storylines to follow at the 2023 Final Four
Photo: BM Stal Ostrów
Four teams from Poland and Lithuania will meet at the 2023 Final Four in Ostrów Wielkopolski on April 11-12. What are the main storylines to follow?
A new champion
Anwil Wloclawek, Šiauliai, Basket Brno and Tartu Ulikool battled for inaugural crown in 2022. A year later Anwil is in a FIBA Europe Cup final, while the other three teams didn`t qualified for the playoffs.
BM Stal Ostrów, Polski Cukier Start Lublin, King Szczecin, BC Wolves are two wins away from their first ENBL trophy. All four teams may walk the whole way in their first season.
Back-to-back wins for Poland?
Five Polish teams entered the 2023 regular season. Four squads qualified for the playoffs, with Trefl Sopot missing out – Žan Tabak`s team lifted Suzuki Puchar Polski instead. Three teams made it to the Final Four.
If BC Wolves beat King Szczecin there will be another Polish-Lithuanian final, just like in 2022. If King Szczecin prevail, we will witness first ever all-Polish final right in a heart of a Greater Poland region.
There`s more than ENBL championship on the line. Three teams are chasing their first trophy in a top level competition. For example, Start Lublin has four podium finishes in the PLK (bronze 1965, 1979, 1980; silver 2020) and a second place in the Polish Cup (Lublin 2023) but no gold yet.
King Szczecin posted a new team record in the PLK regular season but has no medal yet. Basketball club Wolves is making waves in its inaugural season and is looking for the maiden title.
A new sheriff is coming
Przemysław Frasunkiewicz led Anwil Wloclawek to the 2022 championship, defeating a EuroBasket 2003 champion Antanas Sireika in a final. Lubomír Růžička got bronze with Basket Brno, while Nikolajs Mazurs helped Tartu Ulikool to sail into the Final Four.
Andrzej Urban took the coaching reins of BM Stal Ostrów in the summer of 2022. He joined the club in 2018, together with Wojciech Kamiński. Then Urban was assistant to Jacek Winnicki, Łukasz Majewski and Igor Miličič. He briefly led team after Majewski`s resignation.
A Warsaw born Artur Gronek took over Polski Cukier Start Lublin in 2022. He won the Polish championship and the Polish Cup with Zastal Zielona Gora in 2017, being just 32 years old. Recently he led Start to Polish Cup final at Hala Globus.
Arkadiusz Miłoszewski came to King Szczecin in September 2021. A former Polonia Warszawa player (2003-2010) was an assistant coach at Zastal Zielona Gora (2014-2021) and worked together with Artur Gronek for three seasons. Coach "Miły" won several Polish championships and Cups with Zastal.
Kęstutis Kemzūra is in his 22nd season in coaching business. He led Lithuania to a bronze medal finish at the 2010 World Cup. Kemzūra reached the NEBL final in 2003, while being assistant to Jonas Kazlauskas (2002-2004). He was an assistant of legendary David Blatt at Dynamo Saint Petersburg (2004-2005), Benetton Treviso (2005-2007), Darussafaka (2016-2018) and Olympiacos (2018-2019). Kemzūra replaced Rimas Kurtinaitis at the helm of Wolves in March 2023.
Home sweet home
Anwil Wloclawek won the 2022 title at the Hala Mistrzow. BM Stal Ostrów may also lift trophy in front of their fans. The Arena Ostrów was opened on November 11, 2020, honoring Independence Day of Poland, and has a capacity of 3000.