The rise and fall of San Pablo Burgos

After losing at home 66-83 against Fuenlabrada, San Pablo Burgos was relegated to the second division after 5 seasons in the ACB League. Of course, this can happen to anyone, even to historic clubs, but the case of Burgos is more interesting than others, as they became a force in Spain and in the European club competitions in a very short time and now they unexpectedly fell.

The team was founded in 1994 under the name CB Miraflores but became a professional club only in 2015 after replacing CB Tizona (the other professional team in the city) in the second division. After just two years in the LEB Oro (second division), Burgos was promoted to the ACB League in 2017. In the first two seasons, the team had mixed success but managed to stay in the first division, finishing 14th and 11th respectively.

For the 2019-2020 season the team was admitted to the Basketball Champions League, the first-ever experience in continental competition for the club. Burgos had to play a qualifying round before entering the group stage. After beating Kyiv Basket in the qualifiers, the team coached by Joan Penarroya finished 3rd in the group with an 8-6 record. Then, after winning against Dinamo Sassari, the Spanish team qualified for the Final Eight tournament played in Athens. Here, they defeated Hapoel Jerusalem in the quarterfinals, JDA Dijon in the semis and then the team from Castile and Leon also beat hosts AEK Athens 85-74, lifting the BCL trophy. Also, in the ACB League, Burgos reached the semifinals, completing an incredible season for a team this new and from a small market.

The next season, Burgos confirmed that the performances from the previous season were not by luck. In the tough ACB league, the team finished in 6th place, while in the Basketball Champions League they made history again: the team qualified for the Final Eight that was held in Nizhny Novgorod, where they first defeated Hapoel Holon, then SIG Strasbourg to reach the Final again. Vitor Benite and company managed to hold off Pinar Karsiyaka in a low scoring game (64-59), making Burgos the first (and only team so far) to win the BCL trophy back to back.

The Burgos fans had reasons to have high expectations for the 2021-2022 seasons too. But, in the BCL Burgos finished only 2nd in it’s group and had to face Darussafaka in a play-in series. The Spanish team was clearly the favourite and won the first game, but Darussafaka managed to win the next two and ended the dream of Burgos of winning three straight Champions League trophies. However, the real shock came in the domestic league. While the race for relegation was close and only 2 wins separated the 14th and 18th place, Burgos finished with the fewest wins and will have to return to the LEB Oro after 5 sensational seasons and two European trophies won.

This shows again how strong is the ACB League, where the BCL champion of the past two years and the team that played the semifinals in the EuroCup this season (Andorra) will have to play in the second division next season.

Imre Halasz

Image credit: Basketball Champions League