Pleiss recalls Cologne’s great passion for basketball – News


The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague 20201 Final Four at Lanxess Arena will mark the first EuroLeague match in Cologne, Germany since January 2007. Those who had the chance to experience the passion around RheinEnergie Cologne at its peak will remember well how the city feels about the game.

Istanbul’s Anadolu Efes center Tibor Pleiss will play his second Final Four in a city he calls home. He was born in the nearby town of Bergisch Gladbach and raised in Cologne, where he also started playing basketball and spent his first professional seasons. Despite the many world-class organizations that Pleiss has been a part of since, the vibe in Cologne still stands out for him.

“Cologne is my favorite city in Germany, of course, because it’s my hometown. It’s a city with a lot to see. Most people know our cathedral, which is very famous, but it’s a city with a lot to see… different faces. ”Pleiss said.

“Our fans were amazing … The atmosphere was always amazing.”

Even though Pleiss was just a teenager in the years he played for Cologne, he will never forget what it was like to play big games in the crowded team arena.

“Our fans were amazing. The gym was just for 3,000 people, but the vibe was still amazing. The fans were always very emotional. We had drummers around the court who helped set a great atmosphere. always full! It was something special, like a place where people would get together and have a good time. It was like a big family. ”

Even after the local club fell through hard times, Pleiss was impressed with the support of the team: “I am still the team, which currently plays in the fourth league in Germany,” said Pleiss the year last. “But the fans are still there. They are still behind the team, which is incredible. No other team in this league has these kinds of supporters.”

Pleiss is joined by others who played or coached in Cologne to remember the great basketball city it was in its heyday.

“It’s a special story,” said Svetislav Pesic, EuroLegaue champion as player and coach, when asked about his time at the helm of RheinEnergie Cologne for the 2001-02 season. “The city of Cologne had a great basketball tradition. When I was the coach of the German national team, Saturn Cologne was the best team in the country.

“I always say that this German state, North Rhine-Westphalia, where Cologne is located, has a great basketball tradition in German history. In this region you have Bayer Leverkusen, a longtime German champion who won 14 championships. We talked about Saturn Cologne and Telekom Bonn too. There are a lot of other German league teams from that region. ”

Pesic began to understand how great this passion was a few years before he was approached as a coach in Cologne: “I was coaching ALBA Berlin and we played against Telekom Bonn at Koeln Arena. Telekom Bonn had a small gymnasium and the game against ALBA was the most important of the regular season. It was a very interesting game, and Telekom Bonn decided to play in the big gymnasium in Cologne, where the Final Four will be played this season. We beat a European record at the time: 20,000 people watched the match. ”

Sasa Obradovic joined RheinEnergie Cologne under Pesic and played the last four seasons of his career there. He was then appointed head coach and propelled the club to new heights.

“Cologne is a really great place to host the Final Four.”

“These years were really the best years of my life because as a player I lived in a beautiful city and I could see my children growing up in a clean and undamaged condition, in a big country like France. ‘Germany. It was essential for me, “said Obradovic.” Cologne is definitely a very good place to host the Final Four and maybe promote basketball in the city again. While I was there Cologne was a great basketball city. I’m sorry because it’s a big city that deserves a team that could at least play in the German League.

“The city has a sporting soul, with football, hockey, handball … Basketball is absent at a time when sport is growing all over Germany, and you need such a city as the one of his basketball centers. ”

At a time when we hope to bring sport and society back to the normal we remembered before the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps the crowning of a new EuroLeague champion in the city will just be the spark necessary to help Cologne regain its German status. basketball center.

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