Basketball in Finland has come a long way in a short space of time. This past summer’s Eurobasket was a massive step forward and now the ice-hockey mad nation has a side in the Eurocup.
As Finnish champions Bisons Loimaa prepare for Wednesday’s clash with Besiktas in Helsinki, 28-year-old Ville Makalainen is happy to be part of the exciting spell that his country is going through. Where a ninth place finish at Eurobasket has led to a 2014 FIBA World Cup wildcard nomination.
“It would be the biggest thing in Finnish basketball history if we got it. Right now we can only wait and see what happens with that,” Makalainen said.
“The success [Finland have] had in these tournaments brought basketball a lot of media attention that we haven’t had before. All of a sudden everyone talked about basketball. It was great to see that people really appreciated the success that national team had.”
Like most proud Finns, he was watching Finland’s exploits in Slovenia from home. While to some, a wildcard berth for the Wolfpack is an outside option; some feel it’s a massive step in the right direction for them.
The representation of Bisons Loimaa in a top European club basketball competition for the very first time is now another chapter added to what has been a magical 2013 for the Scandinavian country, and Makalainen is proud to be involved.
“It means a lot”, he said.
“It’s another big step forward for Finnish basketball. The Eurocup is a great opportunity to showcase the talent we have and try to earn more respect to Finnish basketball.”
Makalainen is enjoying his time with the Finnish champions. He had a brief spell in England before settling back home with Bisons and he is now in his second season with the club.
The forward is playing key minutes off the bench in this season’s Eurocup where Bisons are currently 1-1 in Group H. The Finns enjoyed their first win at home to Lithuanian side Neptunas Klaipeda before coming back down to earth with an unfortunate loss away at Radnicki.
“Everything is going well. Right now I’m really enjoying playing over here,” Makalainen admitted.
“Especially the Eurocup is a big thing right now. We have a great team and I think we have a chance to do something special over here.”
Regardless of what happens to Bisons Loimaa this season, they are featured in what has been quite possibly Finland Basketball most successful year in its history. Makalainen wants to keep it rolling into 2014. Why should the party stop?
Bisons host Besiktas in the Eurocup on Wednesday night.