Kari-Pekka Klinga, who lifted the Panther Statue in the ranks of ToPo in 1998, is happy about the return of the basketball finals to the capital. The Seagulls lead the final series with a 1–0 win.
The main league basketball finals return to Helsinki after a 13-year hiatus, when the Seagulls host the reigning champion Karhu Basket on Friday in the second final match of the Korisliiga at Kisahalli in Töölö.
Helsinki clubs dominated the sport in the last century, but it has been quiet in the 21st century. Torpan Pojat played in the finals in 2010. The capital’s most recent Finnish basketball championship is from 1998, when ToPo celebrated the championship.
The ToPo icon who ended his career after that championship Kari-Pekka Klinga is going to watch the Seagulls and the Bear meet on the spot. Klinga, who has played his entire career in ToPo, is delighted with the return of the basketball finals to Helsinki.
– It feels really sweet. I can’t remember the last time they were played. I just remember that 1998 was the last championship and I was there then. It’s really great that the game is in Helsinki today. For as long as the Seagulls have been in the league, I’ve been following the team’s exploits closely.
The Seagulls are playing in the final match series of the Korisliiga for the first time. Helsinki clubs founded the club in 2013. The Kisahalli is sold out for both Friday’s match and the fourth final game.
– There are no seats left. The hall will be full to capacity and the feeling will match, the Seagulls’ head coach Jussi Laakso says.
Victory below for the home game
The Seagulls took home advantage for themselves in the first finals game, where they surprised Karhu Basket in Kauhajoki 70–54. According to Jussi Laakso, the victory provides an excellent starting point for the home match.
– It is actually Kauhajoki’s task to change the way they play. We succeeded in the things we wanted in the first final. We were very good defensively. Maybe we can be even better in attack here at home. I believe that with small steps we can get there.
Klinga does not dare to speculate about the championship yet.
– I wish it would be. It has indeed been 25 years. However, Helsinki has dominated basketball. It’s been so long now that there hasn’t been a championship. In a way, it would be great if it came to the Seagulls.