Long history – great successes – dramatic finals
Europe was the first continental federation to hold international club-tournaments in 1976. It started off as the “West European Wheelchair Basketball Tournament” (WEWBT) and turned first into the European Cup and later became the IWBF EuroCup.
In 1988 André-Vergauwen-Cup started up and was later followed by Willi-Brinkmann-Cup in 1997 as the second and third Euro Cup competitions. For that reason the existing EuroCup was renamed as the Champions Cup and upgraded to the top. As these tournaments gained more and more interest and participation, preliminary rounds and qualification tournaments were installed step by step who then were reformed into the consistent EuroLeague in 2009.
Today there are three tiers in the EuroLeague that regulate the qualification for the by now four tournaments. In EuroLeague I, group A of which will be hosted in Wetzlar this year, the first two teams will qualify for the Champions Cup in the beginning of May in Madrid, Spain, whilst the team in spot three qualifies for André-Vergauwen-Cup in the end of April in Getafe, Spain. The first team of their groups in EuroLeague II also qualify for Andre-Vergauwen-Cup and the second teams of their groups qualify for Willi-Brinkmann-Cup in Papendal, Netherlands.
Up until the 90s the European Cup tournaments were dominated by Dutch team, until the success of Spanish champions CD Fundosa Madrid initiated a change of trend in 1997. In 2004 RSV Lahn-Dill, as the first German team ever, won the Champions League and are now with five triumphs leading the records, together with BC Verkerk Zwijndrecht. The Andre-Vergauwen-Cup went to Germany five times overall: BSG Duisburg (1991), UBS Muenster (1992), ASV Bonn (1999), and RSC-Rollis Zwickau (2004 and 2006). Three German teams have so far won the Willi-Brinkmann-Cup: SGK Heidelberg (2001), RSV Lahn-Dill (2002) and ASV Bonn (2009).
Proud record for RSV Lahn-Dill
RSV have played 79 EuroCup-games, 60 of which they have won. The premiere for then Stefan Donner and his team took place in Lissabon in March 1997, where they lost in a tight game against Les Aigles de Meyrin from Switzerland. This was followed by 78 more games against teams from 14 different countries.
RSV have played most of their games against opposition from Italy. Out of 24 games against teams from the Series A they have won 17 games. The games against Italy’s record champions Santa Lucia Sport Rome became international classics. Overall these two most successful European teams have played against each other eleven times, and RSV won eight of them. And that despite getting humiliated 23:85 17 years ago, RSV tried to return the favour in 2011, winning 82:53. But also the mainly successful matches against Afragola, Cantu, Porto Torres, Sassari, Taranto or Lottomatica Rome are now part of the German-Italian history books.
Whilst RSV have so far never lost against teams from Bosnia, France, Sweden, or Switzerland, their balance is not as great against Dutch and Finnish teams. They only had one game each against SC Antilope Utrecht in 1998 (39:64) and Rauma Basket in the same year (52:68), and are yet to make up for those defeats. The only teams that RSV have played against before and who are being hosted next weekend in Wetzlar are French Champions Hyéres Handi Basket and Sardininan team Sassari. Four and two games respectively have taken place so far, all of which were won by RSV Lahn-Dill – maybe a happy omen for the EuroLeague on the 7th and 8th of March?
RSV Lahn-Dill have participated nine times in international finals and no other team has been more successful in IWBF competitions. The Middle Hesse team has triumphed six times, five times at the Champions League and once at Willi-Brinkmann-Cup, and thus became the team they are now.
The first European win at Willi-Brinkmann-Cup in Lodz was accomplished on the 28th of April 2002, by players like Markus Sniegocki and Birgit Meitner amongst others. The opposition then was CISS AIAS di Afragola from Italy’s Series A and they edged the other team out 58:51. Only two years later “international nobody” Canadian Patrick Anderson propelled himself through into the final of the Champions Cup and beat GSD Anmic Sassari 73:64 in a highly dramatic game in Madrid. This game was followed by four more final-participations in a row, where RSV won the Champions Cup for the second time in Wetzlar in 2005 and the third in Istanbul in 2006. After a change in the squad the team lost in the finals 2007 in Sheffield against Santa Lucia Sport Rom and 2008 against Galatassaray Istanbul in Madrid.
But a new international top-team was on the rise, and so RSV Lahn-Dill with players Joey Johnson, Michael Paye and Richard Peter beat their final-opposition Santa Lucia and climbed back on the throne. In 2011 in Zwickau they lost in a tight game against Galatassaray Istanbul 80:85 after extra time, but only a year later RSV got their revenge with their 79:65-win over the team in front of 3.500 visitors at Sinan-Erdem-Dome in Istanbul. Many insiders call the game the most high-class game of all times, where the Wetzlar team managed to spoil a planned Galatassaray victory party.
Long history – great successes – dramatic finals