Help-side column: Fun wine, the Kendrick list, league of point guards
ZAGREB (Basketball Champions League) - First batch of 16 games is behind us, and in case you haven't followed all of them, we've got you covered with all the highlights in our Help-side column.
It has been a crazy, overtime filled, dramatic week, but to tell you the truth, we're kind of used to it by now. The first two seasons saw about 50 percent of our games finish in single digits, overtimes, and double overtimes are a common occurrence. Season three seems to be following in the same footsteps.
It was just Basketball Champions League doing Basketball Champions League stuff. Let's get started with this week's pointers.
The Kendrick List
If you ever played basketball, you have your shot. For me, it was the long twos coming off the right hand dribble, but I was so "good" at it that it didn't buy me playing time, not even in third and fourth Croatian divisions. Hey, at least I was aware of it and focused my attention on school and journalism, so it turned out better than having coaches screaming back at me: "THAT'S THE WORST SHOT IN BASKETBALL, GO FOR LAYUPS!"
Anyway, probably the best example of "the shot" is the one that made Sasa Djordjevic famous. The shot he made in Istanbul to win the FIBA European League for Partizan in 1992; the shot he made to win the classic between Yugoslavia and Croatia at FIBA EuroBasket 1997; the shot he made in his last ever game, an exhibition to celebrate his retirement, when the current Serbian national team coach was asked to recreate it:
Well, it seems that we learned what Kendrick Perry's shot is. Nizhny Novgorod's point guard made a wild high-flying three-pointer from the left 45, sending the game to second overtime, in which they eventually lost to the hands of mighty Norris Cole and the rest of Avellino squad.
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Looks tough, right? Wrong. Turns out that a certain Szolnoki Olaj point guard made a wild high-flying three-pointer from the left 45, winning the title in Hungary. Yes, you guessed it, it was Kendrick Perry!
Perry finished the game against Avellino with 25 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block, thus entering my Top 5 Kendrick list, in third spot, just behind Kendrick Lamar and Kendrick Ray, still ahead of Anna Kendrick and Kendrick, Florida. Nizhny Novgorod's games will be fun because of him.
Speaking of fun... When you are not a native speaker, it's tough to know how to pronounce names. So you try to transcribe them in English, usually come up nowhere near the right pronunciation, but your mind works better when you can attach an object to a player. Object like a fun wine.
Turns out that Hans Vanwijn's last name isn't pronounced as written, or as "fun-wine," but it isn't far from it. He is a 23-year-old, 6'10'' (208cm) tall forward for Telenet Antwerp Giants, and one of those guys who don't do a lot of wrongs in their playing time. In an overtime win over Lietkabelis he had 8 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal, taking just seven shots in 35 minutes, proving he has the patience.
During the Qualifying Rounds, he had two games with 7 assists, so he's my favorite to end up with a triple-double in the Basketball Champions League. Not sure about Belgian wine tradition, but trust me on this one.
Czech Them Out
Opava reached the Final of the Czech championship last season, which is the biggest success for all teams not named CEZ Nymburk over the last 15 years. The fact that they finished as runners-up took them straight to the Regular Season of the Basketball Champions League, with eyebrows raised all over Europe because Opava are a unique kind of basketball team.
Think about it. How many clubs do you know that could field an entire squad with only domestic players? It's like they are the Athletic Bilbao of basketball, playing with an all-Czech lineup no matter what. Their Basketball Champions League debut showed that it is still possible to win games with no international help, and to win games against a sharp-shooting team called Nanterre 92. Please don't be a one-hit wonder, Opava...
League of Point Guards
Norris Cole debuted with 34 points - the most on opening Gameday since Tyrone Brazelton had 36 for Rosa Radom against PAOK in 2016 - and he had 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals for Avellino. You already had Kendrick Perry a couple of paragraphs ago.
Then, it was Tyrese Rice with 33 points and 8 assists for Bamberg, but Fuenlabrada's Pako Cruz out-gunned him with a game-winning triple to go along with his 22 points and 6 assists.
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But that's not all. Khalif Wyatt had 21 points and 11 assists for UNET Holon against Fribourg Olympic, David Holston exploded for 10 points in last five minutes for JDA Dijon against CEZ Nymburk, Jakub Sirina was Opava's top guy against Nanterre, and Anwil Wloclawek's Kamil Laczynski dished out 10 assists off the bench in their win over Ventspils.
And I thought basketball was supposed to be the sport of tall people...
Fans Upping the Ante
Dijon, Bologna and Bamberg are the three newcomers to our league, wasting no time to show the rest of Europe what kind of fans they have behind them. Looking forward to Anwil's and Hapoel Jerusalem's home games next week.
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Team of the Week
Rather than just selecting All-Star Five kind of team, allow me to select an actual team as the team of the week. This time, it has to be Iberostar Tenerife. With Txus Vidorreta back at the helm, 2019 Tenerife seem to be an upgrade of the 2017 team, and there really isn't that much you can do when they make 10-of-20 shots from beyond the arc and dish out 28 assists on 34 field goals.
The opening 87-68 win over Telekom Baskets Bonn felt like there was something extra in it. Like, sending out a message to the rest of Europe, that the team from the Canary Islands wants the title back.
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