Pic via Virgil Stanescu
BallinEurope’s Andrei Britz hit the road for the biggest rivalry in Romania as he caught the clash of Asesoft Ploeisti and Steaua Bucharest. Here’s a taste of what rivalry is like, Romanian style.
On 31 January basketball lovers in Romania were treated to a clash between Asesoft Ploiesti, the perennial Romanian national champions, and Steaua Bucharest, the biggest sports brand in Romania. Ploiesti has become used to high-level basketball, as Asesoft has also played Eurocup hoops for the last three years.
Steaua entered the match-up leading the league with an impressive 13-1 record, while Asesoft was in second spot with an 11-3 record. The stakes were high and the game had all the ingredients for an epic battle.
As is the norm with such cases, the battle started before the game and it is hard to say who threw the first punch. Asesoft posted a memo on their website stating something that at first glance sounded odd. The memo informed the fans that in order to be able to enter the game, one must present an ID that should belong to the local county of Prahova.
The Target of the move was the so called ‘Peluza Sud’ fan group which is part of the hard-core Steaua fans faction.
This group expressed interest in coming to the big game. The issue with this was, that the Steaua organisation did not make a formal request to bring the group of fans to the game. Things did not stop here however and, after negotiations, an informal agreement between the club presidents, Virgil Stanescu and Alexandru Iacobescu was reached. So after all, in a last minute effort an agreement was reached and the Peluza Sud fans got the green light.
This whole situation did not have big repercussions in the end. Only around 100-200 Asesoft fans from Bucharest were discouraged from joining the game in the end. Fans that usually come back to Ploeisti for Eurocup games.
The basketball community in Romania is pretty small, so the real fans understood , that the move is targeted at a certain group. So, some fans; myself included read between the lines and showed up at the game, even if they don’t poses a Prahova ID. By chance I traveled to the game together with a Steaua fan, in order to split the gas cost.
My friend is an old school Steaua fan, belonging to the so called Hunters divison of the Peluza Sud fans. We got a bit late at the game, so by that time the arena was already on lockdown. I had no issue entering the game as a member of the press but for the Steaua fan it was a bit more tricky. He got pushed back from the main entrance, so we had to go to the secondary entrance, that led to the sector were the Steaua fans were designated. The security filter was pretty tight and enforced by a lot of guys fromLa Gendarmerie. In the end, we both got in.
The game itself was a beauty, balanced all the way and with exhilarating intensity. Steaua started the game without their star-center Travis Watson, who averages 8 rebounds and 10 points per game however forward Bill Amis (20ppg and 6 rpg) and back-up centre Dragusin (6 ppg and 3rpg) stepped up big for Steaua.
The juiciest moment was the long, loong 3-point shot made by Levi Szijarto at the end of the
first half which moved Asesoft 5 points in front at 46-41.
The battle continued up until the brilliant Marius Runkauskas scored a three point dagger with 45 seconds left that got AseSoft 2 points in front 79-77. The battle than moved to the free-throw line where Asesoft manages to remain in front. The final score was 85-80.
In addition to the game itself being exciting, it was good that there were no incidents in the stands. The atmosphere, as you can see was great. I am optimistic that the violent incidents at basketball games are a thing of the past in Romania. The road home featured an interesting coming together as Steaua’s president’s took the train back with the Peluza Sud Fans.
Check out Andrei’s site Sub Panou.