Coming off a historic season in which it got its first taste of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, Stelmet Zielona Gora is eager for more. The club enters the qualifying rounds hoping to return to a place among the European elite. Zielona Gora enjoyed an eventful first shot in the Euroleague that saw it win two games and nearly beat defending champion Olympiacos Piraeus on the road. In Poland, Zielona Gora returned to the playoff finals, but ultimately lost a spirited series to PGE Turow Zgorzelec. Nonetheless, the club has been a major part in the recent growth of Polish basketball. Its history traces back to 1946 and by the early 1960s, Zielona Gora was among the best teams in its region. In 1967, under the name Zastal, the club started to compete at the national level. Coach Tadeusz Aleksandrowicz made history by leading Zastal to the top league in Poland in 1984, where it remained, spare two seasons, through 2001. But then relegation hit hard and Zastal fell to the regional northern league. With the club’s future in doubt, Raphael Czarkowski led a group of basketball enthusiasts, who took control of the club. Zastal rebounded and completed its comeback in 2010, when Coach Tomasz Herkt led Zielona Gora back to the top level. Walter Hodge arrived prior to the start of that season and soon developed not only into Zastal’s leader, but one of the best players in the league. Despite missing the Polish playoffs in 2011, Zielona Gora reached the 2012 Polish Cup final. Zielona Gora used that experience to do better than ever in 2012-13, when it made its Eurocup debut and swept PGE Turow in the finals to win its first Polish League title. Last season may have finished without a trophy, but Zielona Gora took the next step towards establishing itself as a force both in Poland and abroad and will look to build on that this year.
Polish National League: 2012-13