Best individual performances in BCL's first four years
MIES (Switzerland) - The Basketball Champions League has provided a bright stage for a host of magnificent players since its inception, nearly four years ago.
The competition therefore has already produced some brilliant individual single-game records, which are worth remembering as we begin to warm up for autumn's season finale.
All (p)syched up: Keifer Sykes's efficiency rating (43) and scoring record (43)
Somebody is bound someday to score 44 points in a BCL game and take the scoring record from Keifer Sykes. One day, someone might even register a single-game efficiency rating of 44 to claim that record. It is highly unlikely though that one player will set both records in the same game, as Sykes did on January 22, 2019.
The 26-year-old point guard, who is now on powerhouse EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, was playing for fellow Italian side Sidigas Avellino back in the 2018-19 season. Avellino, holding a 7-4 record at that point in the season, travelled to Bandirma to take on Banvit in a crucial clash in the race for the Play-Offs. The Turkish side grabbed the lead right from the start but Sykes took it upon himself to keep the Italian side in the conversation.
🏆 Keifer Sykes (@ksykesyb) gets the Basketball Champions League record!@ScandoneBasket's PG scored 4⃣3⃣ points (!!!), breaking the scoring record for a single game, set by @z_no3 and @JBaronJr back in #BasketballCL Season 1 pic.twitter.com/27wL3EeDlz— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) January 22, 2019
The American guard stayed on the floor for the entire 40 minutes of the encounter and made his last triple with about 20 seconds left on the clock, to set the new single-game scoring record. Jimmy Baron and Martin Zeno were jointly holding the record, of 42 points in a single game, up until that day (more on their exploits later on).
Sykes collected his 43 points on 10 of 14 shooting from two-point range, 6 of 10 triples and 5 of 8 free-throws. He added 7 assists and 4 rebounds to register an efficiency rating of 43.
Despite Sykes's superlative effort, Avellino lost 96-88 and lost their two next games as well, just missing out on the Play-Offs. Sykes had an uneven season scoring-wise and finished in 19th place on the league's scorers table averaging 14.1 points per game, but he left the bar very high indeed for any compulsive scorer that has ever competed or will compete in the BCL.
Making other people happy: Scottie Reynolds's and Marcelinho Huertas's joint assists record (17)
On January 3rd, 2017, Cibona Zagreb made the short trip to Montenegro seeking a win over Mornar Bar that would keep them alive in the chase of a postseason berth.
However, young star Ante Zizic, Cibona's leading scorer through the start of the season, had caught the eye of Maccabi Tel Aviv and joined the Israeli powerhouse (before later moving to Cleveland at the end of that season), so the Croatian team had to make up for his points.
Scottie Reynolds was about 28 years old back then and already had lots of European ball experience to come up with a solution to Cibona's predicament - share around the offensive weight.
The Zagreb team fell behind by as many as 15 points early on but shifted gears midway through the second quarter, as Reynolds started setting up his team-mates and manufacturing open looks.
The American guard finished with a new BCL single-game record 17 assists, to go with his 12 points. All nine Cibona players wrote their name on the scoreboard and six of them scorer in double digits as the Croatian team rode out 92-81 winners.
Reynolds's record appeared to be safe up until the 2019-20 season, when a... sleight of hand performer arrived in the BCL. Brazilian star Marcelinho Huertas joined Iberostar Tenerife and made clear, right from his debut with the Spanish yellow-blacks, that we were in for a masterclass in pick'n'roll execution every week.
On January 22, 2020 the still undefeated at that point Tenerife visited Gaziantep and Huertas started his passing exhibition right away, for the Spanish side to cruise to an 88-65 road win.
The Tenerife point guard collected his 17 assists in 31 minutes on the floor, and added 9 points, 3 steals and 2 rebounds. Giorgi Shermadini was the main beneficiary and led all scorers with 20 points in just 21 minutes of action, while four more Tenerife players finished in double digits.
Up until the 2019-20 season was abruptly suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Huertas had put together double digits in assists in six different games and was of course the league leader in that statistical category, averaging an all-time high 8.6 assists per game.
Dude reigns on the glass: Dave Dudzinksi's rebounding record (22)
It is really unusual for a player on the losing team to be named MVP of the game, let alone make it to the Team of the Week, but Dave Dudzinski pulled such an extraordinary feat on Gameday 5 of the 2019-20 season that it was nearly impossible to not claim both accolades.
On November 13, 2019 Telenet Giants Antwerp travelled to Poland to face Anwil Wloclawek and Antwerp's American power forward delivered a performance that could also be an homage to the 'Round Mound of Rebound' Charles Barkley, albeit the Belgian team ended up losing 80-71.
Standing at 2.04m (6ft 9in), Dudzinski was certainly not the tallest guy on the court, but that November night in Poland he seemed to possess telekinetic abilities, as the ball found its way in his hands after seemingly every miss.
Dudzinksi brought down 22 boards - 16 defensive and 6 offensive - to pulverize the previous single-game record of 19 rebounds which was jointly held by three players.
To put that figure in context, Anwil had 35 rebounds and all Antwerp players not named Dave combined for 34 rebounds - so while there were a lot of missed shots in the game, 22 is still a humongous number.
Silky-smooth baron catches fire: Jimmy Baron's 10 made three-pointers
The BCL was barely a few months old when it experienced arguably the most memorable night of three-point shooting that can occur in a league.
On December 6, 2016 Kataja defeated Maccabi Rand Media 88-69 on the road as Rion Brown knocked down 9 triples (on 12 attempts) to collect 40 points, setting in one stroke both the single-game record for most made threes and for points scored.
Brown was probably made aware of the magnitude of his achievement after the end of the game but, by the time he had gone out of the shower, he was no longer the holder of either of the two records.
The reason is that, at right about the same time over in Lithuania, Jimmy Baron was catching fire from downtown. The American shooting guard drilled 10 three-pointers - the last one with just a couple of seconds before the final buzzer! - on 15 attempts and collected 42 points, to literally snatch both records right from Brown's hands.
Of course, as we saw further up, about two years later Sykes scored 43 points to establish a new single-game scoring record, but Byron's record for most made threes in a single BCL game still holds today. Two players, James Feldeine and Justin Dentmon, came close to breaking it in the meantime but they both ended up hitting 9 threes, so they tied Brown's performance.
As for the most made field goals in a single BCL game? That record belongs to Martin Zeno, whom we also mentioned earlier, as on January 18, 2017 he hit 17 (of 26) shots from the floor to lead CSM Oradea to a 101-91 win over Kataja. Zeno went 11 of 17 from within the arc and 6 of 9 from long range to register his record.
You might think that Zeno's 11 is a record for most made two-pointers in a single BCL game, but actually that feat belongs to Brian Qvale of EWE Baskets Oldenburg. The big man shot a stratospheric 16 of 18 from two-point range and led the German team to a 98-89 win over Avtodor Saratov in Game 2 of the Play-Offs Qualifiers on 22 February, 2017.
Defense first: 'Le voleur' Jérémy Leloup's 8 steals and 7 is the magic number in Ellis's, Denison's and Cate's block party
There are six players who have managed over the years to come up with 7 steals in a single BCL game, but nobody has pulled even with Jérémy Leloup, the only player in the four years of the competition to steal 8 balls in the same game.
The French guard who is now playing for JDA Dijon but was playing for SIG Strasbourg at the time, picked the pockets of Petrol Olimpija players eight times on October 11, 2017 (and added 7 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals) to help Strasbourg clinch an 83-69 win at home. The 8 steals was something of an outlier for Leloup, as he finished that season averaging 1.3 steals per game.
When it comes however to how many times you can shout 'rejected' on the same night, it turns out that 7 is indeed the magic number.
The inaugural season of the BCL was barely under way when, on November 2, 2016 Octavius Ellis terrorized the young up-and-coming stars of Mega Leks by blocking 7 of their shots to propel Mornar Bar to an 87-85 win over the Serbian side. Ellis, who is now playing for Greek powerhouse Olympiacos, also had 6 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals on the night.
About a month later, on December 14, 2016 Sean Morgan Denison replicated Ellis's achievement and came up with 7 blocks in CSM Oradea's 69-64 win over Maccabi Rand Media. The veteran Canadian was arguably not far from a triple-double, as he also collected 14 points and 11 rebounds.
It took over two years for another player to join Ellis's and Denison's block party and this time it was not a player on a Romanian team, but a Romanian international. Emanuel Cate, in his first season at UCAM Murcia after arriving from Real Madrid, stood tall as the Spanish side tried to stave off elimination in the Play-Offs at the hands of Telenet Giants Antwerp.
Cate had 7 blocks to go with his 10 points and 5 rebounds but, although Murcia won 78-77 on the night, Antwerp advanced to the next stage courtesy of a 9-point cushion from Game 1.