Caledonia Gladiators are set to take on Fribourg Olympic from Switzerland’s top division, in the Basketball Champions League pre-qualifier, with both sides playing for a spot in Basketball Champions League’s season 8 qualifiers.
The two will face off prior to the qualifiers, at a neutral venue in a one-off game. It will be a historic one, as it becomes the first European game in franchise history for the newly rebranded Caledonia Gladiators, following an impressive debut season under their new name.
Fribourg’s Domestic History
Fribourg Olympic is a Swiss basketball club based in Fribourg. Since being founded in 1961, the franchise has won the Swiss Basketball League (SBL) 19 times. Their first league title came in 1966, and most recent in 2022, having finished second to only Massagno in the 2023 campaign, despite going on to win the playoffs against them.
Historically, Fribourg is the most successful club when it comes to league titles, also having won the Swiss Cup 9 times, and the Swiss League Cup a respectable 6.
Playing out of Salle Saint-Léonard in the west of the country, the club host the largest arena capacity in the league, sitting at 2,850 people.
The European history of Fribourg started in the EuroLeague on seven occasions – in the era that FIBA controlled the now separately run competition. During that time, the Swiss outfit only managed to qualify for the second round twice.
In 2007, Fribourg Olympic competed in the European-wide secondary competition, the 2007–08 ULEB Cup (now EuroCup) regular season, but they ended up in the last position of their group.
It took until 2018/19 for the franchise to make their Basketball Champions League debut, in which they advanced through the qualifiers and into the regular season, defeating Avtodor Saratov, Donar, and Sakarya on their journey there.
Since the team’s first season, they have competed in every campaign, seeing various successes. Most recently, in 22/23, they dropped down to FIBA’s Europe Cup competition, having competed in only one BCL qualifying round. In EuroCup, they went 3-3, losing out on the head-to-head in the second round.
Links Between the Two Sides
The two competitors share an intriguing link. In the 05/06 season, Duke Jermaine-Forbes competed in the BBL with the then-Scottish Rocks, playing in 35 games and putting up a solid 13.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. In that campaign, he shot a solid 40% from 3-point range. A successful campaign came for the team, finishing second place in the Championship, and earning a spot in the Playoff Final where they lost to Newcastle Eagles.
A few years later, after spells with other teams in Switzerland, France, and with the then-Plymouth Raiders, Jermaine-Forbes signed with Fribourg Olympic in the 11/12 SBL season. There, in 21 games, he contributed 7.9 PPG, 2 RPG and 1 APG.
23/24 Signings from Gladiators and Fribourg
Gladiators have confirmed the sole return of young Scottish guard, Kyle Jimenez, who competed in the 2022 Commonwealth Games for Scotland before embarking on his first season with the Gladiators, a successful one. It’s set to be the first time Kyle, and Coach Gareth Murray head into European competition.
Heading further into the off-season, Gladiators will be set to push boundaries and sign high-quality British and import players, with the goals of competing at the highest level possible in Europe, as well as putting on a domestic showcase in the British Basketball League, aiming to build upon the success of their debut season.
Fribourg has picked up a handful of players themselves, a mix of re-signed and fresh faces to compete under Head Coach Thibaut Petit. Natan Jurkovic (SUI), Eric Nottage (USA), Killian Martin (SUI), Jonathan Kazadi (SUI), Arnaud Cotture, and Cheikh Sane (SEN) currently make up their roster for the 23/24 season (as of 04/07/23).