One of the pleasant surprises of the Basketball Champions League season so far is Falco Szombathely, who are currently tied with Nutribullet Treviso in the 1st place of Group D, with a 3-1 record.
What makes the performance of Falco even more valuable is that the Hungarian champions opted to have only two foreign players in their roster, when most teams (even from bigger basketball countries) play with 5-6 foreigners in the BCL. The strategy of Falco was that instead of signing foreigners, which is sometimes risky (some players might need more time to adapt to a new country), they signed some of the best Hungarian players in the market, who would normally play abroad.
The first player that has to be mentioned is Zoltan Perl, who is already a legend of the club. He is born in Szombathely and started his career at Falco. At 20 years old, when he was already the captain of Falco and their leading scorer, he decided to sign with Serie A team Capo D’Orlando. He also played at Treviso (Falco’s current rivals in BCL) and in 2018 he signed with Spanish ACB League team Estudiantes. At an age where he could have continued developing in one of Europe’s most powerful leagues, he decided to come back to Szombathely and play in the Basketball Champions League with his hometown team. Perl had some clutch performances already in the league and he is definitely the go-to guy for Falco when they desperately need a basket.
Another local player from Szombathely is point guard Benedek Varadi. He was a teammate of Perl also in the Hungarian youth national team that won the Division B Eurobasket in 2015 and are now teammates at Falco and the senior national team. Varadi only played at Falco in his career and he is now at his maturity. So far he has a solid stat line in the BCL, with 9.5 points, 5 rebounds and 5.5 assists (he ranks 6th in assists in the competition this season).
A great veteran in the team is Akos Keller. The Hungarian national team center played before at Falco’s rivals Alba Fehervar and Szolnoki Olaj. Abroad, he tried his luck in France at Pau Orthez and he also played in Italy (Capo D’Orlando) and Poland (Slask Wroclaw). He was also convinced by the project of playing in the BCL and having a big role in a team that he knows well, so it was a good decision for him.
Gyorgy Goloman is another player that chose to come back to Hungary after he experienced playing abroad. He played in the NCAA at the prestigious UCLA and after not being drafted in the NBA, he chose to play in Japan, then he transferred to Spirou Charleroi in Belgium. Goloman is at an age when he needs minutes on the court and in his case too Falco was a great option, so he can showcase his talent in the Basketball Champions League.
Szilard Benke is also an important part of the team. He is a great shooter and has averages of 13.7 points and 5 rebounds so far this season. He only played in Hungary so far, but with his performances this season he could attract offers from other leagues.
Lastly, Adam Somogyi is an interesting prospect. The 21-year-old was transferred last summer by ACB League team San Pablo Burgos and the Spanish team decided to loan him to Falco so he can get more minutes.
The two foreigners that were brought to the team are American Marvin Clark and Croatian Boris Barac. The key is that these players were brought to play in positions where Falco couldn’t find any more quality local players that could play on a BCL level so they filled the spots with Clark and Barac who are undoubtedly quality players. The strategy proved to be good so far for Falco: they develop local players, a thing that fans love and is good for the national team too and the results are satisfying for the directors of the team and sponsors too.
Image credit: Basketball Champions League