20 October, 2020
09 May, 2021
10 Sasu Salin (TENE)
19/12/2020
Igor Curkovic's Champions League Help-Side
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Basketball Champions League MVP Race: First checkpoint

ZAGREB (Croatia) - Season 5 of the Basketball Champions League is set to be the closest one yet, and with the new format and new teams, there are plenty of new faces in the MVP Race in 2020-21.

Now, keep in mind that this is not an official race. This is just a helping hand we are extending, to find the next in line where Jordan Theodore, Manny Harris, Tyrese Rice and Keith Langford are already standing, with their MVP of the Season awards from the previous editions of the Basketball Champions League.

In order to keep these players in an order of a sort, we need to set up a few basic rules about the race itself. See, all the names up here - all of them played at least the Semi-Finals of the Basketball Champions League in their award winning season, so it's obvious that you cannot be an MVP candidate in this Wacky Race if you're down at 0-3 and struggling to make it to the sweet sixteen. So, (1) you have to have a winning record to join the party.

Also, real MVPs are the reason why their teams are winning games. Like, Jordan Theodore in 2016-17, he won a few games for Banvit by himself, just with his crazy numbers or game winning shots or whatever passing records he was breaking in Season One. So, (2) YOU have to be the reason why your team has a winning record.

This next one is kind of connected to the previous one. (They are all connected and basically the same, just a couple of scrolls lower in this piece.) Tyrese Rice in 2018-19, he hit the biggest shot of the season for Brose Bamberg, winning the matchup with AEK in the Quarter-Finals in front of a packed OAKA. That's what MVPs do. So, (3) if your team needs a game-winner to make it to the Final 8 this time around, are you the one taking the shot?

 

And get this, even if you get the first three correctly here, you still may drop out of the MVP Race if you don't meet the criteria in the next one. Because, winning the MVP award, that sounds awesome. You have to have Keith Langford-ish numbers like 18.8 ppg with three made threes per game, done on 40 percent shooting, with six 20+ games in a single season. Making this one our number (4), do you have the numbers to justify the nomination in this list?

Finally, there has to be something goofy because that's what we do in this kind of a column. So, (5) will always be a horrible question meant to separate you from the rest. With zero connection to BCL, probably. But with a trivial background because trivia is what I do. The way it works, I make up my mind who's number one, then find a fun fact about him and turn it into the fifth question to make him the MVP of the checkpoint. You'll get it in a couple of scrolls. (Hopefully.)

Without further ado, here's the questions to help us determine the leader of the MVP Race:
(1) Does your team have a winning record?
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?

(See? Number five is just random.)

#10 Dylan Ennis (Casademont Zaragoza)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Yes. 3-0.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Yep. He had the game-winner against Nizhny Novgorod.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
Yep. Would've been a "maybe" but DJ Seeley is not with the team anymore.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
Yep. 17.7 points, 50 percent from the field on 14.7 attempts, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals per game. Solid.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
Nope. But he played for Jamaica. While his brother played for Canada. The more you know...

 

#9 David Holston (JDA Dijon)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Of course. Unbeaten at 3-0.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
I'm ashamed of myself for even asking. Of course.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
LOL.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
20.5 points, 50 percent from deep on 8 attempts per game, 7.0 assists, 4.0 steals. But he only played two games so far, so it's a small sample, so he's number nine instead of number one by a wild margin.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
Nope. Hey, how come Dave never played for a European country?

 

#8 Vojtech Hruban (ERA Nymburk)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Sure. 3-1.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Probably. Nymburk are +46 with Hruban on the floor in their wins.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
If Retin Obasohan keeps on passing the ball the way he's doing it right now, yes.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game. So yes, very much so.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
Nope. But he did have 24 and 12 against Poland in China.

#7 Kristers Zoriks (VEF Riga)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Yep. 2-1.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Jury still out on that.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
Oof... Right now, yes. But the way Kyle Allman is growing in confidence, feels like he'll be taking the most important shots in a couple of months.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
15.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, all done in 27 minutes per game, while knocking down 53.3 percent of his three-pointers. Not bad at all.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
Nope. But he's 22, so plenty of time for him to become an all-time Latvian legend.

#6 Sam Dekker (Turk Telekom)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Yep, 2-1.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Yep, knocked down the game-winning triple v Limoges.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
If Kyle Wiltjer allows him to.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
13.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, while flirting with a 50/40/90 split.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
Nope.

 

#5 Marco Spissu (Dinamo Sassari)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Yep, 3-1.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Yep, because 15 assists against Tenerife don't happen very often.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
Yep. We already have the nickname ready, Spissu the Southpaw Spike of Sassari.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
12.0 points, 63.2 percent from deep on 19 shots so far (WHAT!?), 8.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds. Honestly, he was the number one in this race before that last game v Bakken Bears.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
No. But he did hit some clutch shots for Italy during the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers last month.

 

#4 D'Angelo Harrison (Happy Casa Brindisi)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Yep, 2-1.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Tricky. Probably yes, because Brindisi are +28 with him on the floor in their two wins.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
Not only taking it, but probably taking it from halfcourt or something like that.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
17.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.3 steals. Yes, definitely.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
Nope. But if Alaska put together a team for international competition, man, he'd be a candidate for 38, 15 and 15 assists, too.

 

#3 Jasiel Rivero (Hereda San Pablo Burgos)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Always. 2-1 for the defending champs.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Yep. Just ask Darussafaka Tekfen.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
I love you, Jasiel. But if you're making a game-winning shot, it's probably because you tipped in a miss by Benite/McFadden/Renfroe/Cook/everybody else.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
13.7 points, 65.4 percent from the field, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 1.0 assists per game. Oh, he does it in just over 20 minutes per game.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
No. But he did have 34 points and 22 rebounds for Cuba once, against Puerto Rico during the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games.

 

#2 Sasu Salin (Iberostar Tenerife)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Can't remember if Tenerife ever had a losing record, anywhere.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Oh yeah. 34 points against Galatasaray. Man.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
Yep. Probably happening in a fake Spain pick-and-roll set up which turns into a Shermadini flare screen to open up Salin on the wing. It happened against Gaziantep last season.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
20.0 points, 14 three-pointers made in three games, 10-of-10 from the charity stripe, 2.7 assists... Best numbers since his Espoon Honka days.
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
Nope. But he had 29 in 33 minutes for Finland against Portugal in the FIBA U20 European Championship, Division B in 2010.

 

#1 Yanick Moreira (AEK)

(1) Does your team have a winning record?
Yes, 3-1.
(2) Are you the reason they have a winning record?
Yes, because it's hard to recall a missed shot by Yanick so far this season.
(3) If your team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final 8, are you the one taking it?
He already looks like a Kevin Durant stunt-double, so yeah, why not. And with defenses focusing on guys like Langford and Lojeski, they have to play Moreira 1v1. GIVE THE MAN THE BALL, RIGHT NOW, HE'S MAKING THE SHOT, TRUST ME.
(4) Do you have the numbers to be the MVP?
18.0 points, 68.2 percent from the field on 11 attempts per game, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, done in less than 26 minutes per game. MVP!
(5) Did you put up 38 and 15 in a FIBA Basketball World Cup game once?
YESSSSS!!! Yanick Moreira had 38 points and 15 rebounds for Angola during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014, putting on a dunking show against Australia. Young legs, right? Right.

 
There you have it. Yanick Moreira is the leader in the MVP Race so far. Watch your back, though. The nine remaining guys here are all capable of catching you, and you still have to keep an eye on TaShawn Thomas who only played two games so far. And some of the others may be on a winning team really soon. It's a Wacky Race, I tell you. Wacky Race, indeed.

 

The Basketball Champions League's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA or the Basketball Champions League.

The Basketball Champions League's takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic is Basketball Champions League's writer and editor since day one of the competition, specializing in Live Blog coverage of the games and sorting out the teams on Mondays, in the Power Rankings. When he's not watching basketball, he's commentating Croatian Second Division soccer games for TV.