09 October, 2018
05 May, 2019
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Power Rankings: Loaded at the top, big names chasing the unbeaten Umana Reyer Venezia

MIES (Basketball Champions League) - Two Gamedays are behind us in the Basketball Champions League, but domestic championships are also taken into consideration for our weekly Power Rankings.


MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg are in a slump, losing five straight for the first time since December 2014, when they lost six straight, to Phoenix Hagen, Bamberg, Tubingen, Alba Berlin, Braunschweig and Oldenburg. It is not getting any easier for them, either, they've got games against the French Champs Le Mans and Bundesliga juggernauts Alba Berlin coming up over the next four days. Crazy to think that they were Final Four material just five months ago...


Sales of various heart medications probably grew in Ljubljana over the past week. Petrol Olimpija lost to Promitheas Patras by two points, missing on a potential game-winning three-pointer, then went on to lose to Mega Bemax in overtime in the Adriatic League, and then they finally beat Hopsi Polzela, in another one-possession game, their third in five days. Read more on their scheduling woes


It is amazing really. Nanterre 92 have lost four of their last five games, and yet, their only win in that period was against JDA Dijon, one of the in-form teams of the Basketball Champions League and Jeep Elite French League. Tough schedule ahead, too. They are traveling to Bonn, then hosting Le Mans, before going back on the road for games against PAOK and Levallois Metropolitans. Oh, well. A lot of time on flights might be good for them to build some chemistry.


Being a 4-4 team for the season doesn't sound bad, at all. But Lietkabelis have lost two games in a row, and down at 0-2 in the Basketball Champions League, it doesn't look promising for them. Nymburk, Bamberg, Dijon, AEK and Fuenlabrada are the games coming up for the Lithuanian lineup before the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers break, and it feels like make or break for Lietkabelis. 


Signs of life by medi Bayreuth, but only just. The club avoided a five-game losing streak by defeating Braunschweig 78-77 in the easyCredit BBL German League, just in time to wake up for the Basketball Champions League, too. Prometheus will be in Bavaria, on the Red Main river between the Franconian Jura and the Fichtelgebirge Mountains, that could low-key be the game of the day on Wednesday.


Given the fact that they had defeated Nanterre 92, but then lost to Fribourg Olympic, Opava are still on the same list as Extreme, Deep Blue Something, Spin Doctors, 4 Non Blondes, The Remembrandts, Hathaway... Yes, the list of one-hit wonders.


Ventspils took it all out on Liepaja in the Latvian-Estonian League, tormenting them with a 110-66 beating, but it still doesn't change the fact that their defense was looking horrible over the first two Basketball Champions League Gamedays. Latvian champs own a 124.3 defensive rating, the second worst in the entire competition. Somebody get Stan Van Gundy to Latvian coast.


Hey, everybody. Jump along, board the Babacar Toure bandwagon! Fribourg Olympic's big guy was sensational during the Swiss champs' run through the Qualifying Rounds, putting up 15.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, and he demolished Opava with 23 points, a season-high 16 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks, helping Fribourg get their first win of the Regular Season. 


Yeah, we know, it's only two games in, but a 19.1 turnover percentage is way too high, meaning PAOK are turning over every fifth possession in the Basketball Champions League. Third from the top - or the bottom, honestly - in that department, with lots of room for improvement. Just pace yourselves, Paokara. Wins will come. Just stop turning the ball over, and you'll be fine.


I love Jordan Morgan. But my love alone is not enough, not enough, not enough, as Banvit fell to 0-3 in the Turkish League. That's why they are all the way down in 23rd spot, even with a 2-0 Basketball Champions League record.


No hiding the fact that there is a good feeling around this Anwil Wloclawek team. They have three wins in their last four games in all competitions, with the sole defeat being the one to the hands of Nizhny Novgorod in the Basketball Champions League. Huge test coming up for Polish champs, they travel to Avellino to face the hot Italians on Tuesday.


UCAM Murcia are 2-0 in the Basketball Champions League, but a 44-point defeat over the weekend saw them slip to 1-3 and the relegation zone in the Spanish Liga Endesa. And guess what, just like I predicted last week, they are still smack on the .500 line with a 4-4 record. It's becoming the Even Steven episode of Seinfeld.


Streaking is forbidden is some sports. But not here. Nizhny Novgorod started the season with three straight wins, then suffered three straight defeats, and are now on a two game winning streak ahead of their matchup with Murcia. Just 553 wins in a row more, and they will break Jahangir Khan's all-time record of 555 straight wins in squash.


How much difference a week makes... Telenet Giants Antwerp were 7-0 just a week ago, but two straight blowouts brought them all the way up to 19th spot in the Power Rankings. They are still the best three-point shooting team of the Basketball Champions League, hitting 26-of-54 from beyond the arc in the first two Gamedays. Live by the three, die by the three, right?


Good news for Filou Oostende? They are 4-0 in the Belgian League. Bad news for Filou Oostende? Their only two defeats came in the Basketball Champions League, and they have to dig deep again to make it back. Seems like a common theme for them in this competition... An 88-63 win over arch-rivals Antwerp maybe gave them the confidence needed to make a run in international waters, too.


*checking the schedule* No more games against AEK until December? Perfect, now CEZ Nymburk can finally start winning close games. 


SIG Strasbourg would've been way down lower, probably a Top 10 team in this table, but they had the misfortune of one Basketball Champions League writer/editor* watching their game against Levallois Metropolitans over the weekend. They were killed. Four-game winning streak snapped with an 80-65 defeat to the hands of the Parisians. 
*It was me.


You know what UNET Holon did after their double overtime game against Umana Reyer Venezia in the Basketball Champions League? They went on to play a double overtime against Hapoel Eilat in Ligat Winner! They won that one, paced by DaQuan Jones' 29-point performance. This is a fun team, and the last two performances, 100 minutes of basketball in a couple of days, suggest you are in for a treat every time you see purple-and-yellow on the floor.


Believe it or not, Besiktas Sompo Japan are below .500 for the first time...well, ever? But they will be back to Top 10 and probably Top 5 in no time, or at least in late November, early December when they have a three-game home stand in the Basketball Champions League, and actually play four of five games in that stanza in front of their fans. Willing to bet against them then? Yeah, didn't think so.


I'm gonna keep my eyes closed to the fact that Le Mans have an 83.5 offensive rating - league worst - over the first two Gamedays, just because the French champs are 5-1 domestically. Man, 83.5 points per 100 possessions? Come on. 


The turbulence seems to be over for Montakit Fuenlabrada. They are 2-0 in the Basketball Champions League, climbing above .500 for the season with a win over Zaragoza in the Spanish Liga Endesa. They are flying to Dijon for the next round of the Basketball Champions League, it could be a three-point shootout with Marko Popovic and David Holston. Pop had 17 last week, proving he still has plenty to offer, even in the latter stages of his successful career.


Promitheas Patras were deleted from the court by PAOK in the Greek League, meaning they have now lost back to back games domestically, following their defeat to Peristeri last time around. Seems like a P-letter curse, so they will be happy to know that they are up against Bayreuth, Besiktas, Strasbourg, Neptunas, Virtus and Oostende before having to face the only P-team of their group in Petrol Olimpija.


So, you stop Norris Cole, then up steps Caleb Green and scores 32 in Serie A. Then you stop Norris Cole and Caleb Green, and Kiefer Sykes goes off for 20+ points. Okay, so you stop the three of them, and there's Demetris Nichols with his patented long-twos. And even if you stop all four of them, you still have to deal with a double-double machine in Matt Costello. Sidigas Avellino are a handful, 2-0 in the Basketball Champions League proves that.


JDA Dijon are on their way up, which is a bad thing in this Power Rankings, falling from 32 to 1. Started with five straight wins, then lost to Nanterre 92 and Brose Bamberg, and have to dig themselves out of the slump in a game against Fuenlabrada. They are one of only two teams in the Basketball Champions League below 100 in both offensive and defensive rating - that's fancy talk for "bar fight" style of basketball.


Okay, Telekom Baskets Bonn. We love you and all... But 126.1 points allowed per 100 possessions in the Basketball Champions League!? Yes, yes, small sample, but could be a worrying sign. Nanterre are in town on Tuesday, before the team packs their bags and goes on a three-game road trip to Jena, Fribourg and Frankfurt. Feel free to send them suggestions of your favorite road games, like the Licence Plate game, or Uno, or whatever...


The Queen is back! Picture this, they lost to Peristeri and Hapoel Jerusalem, then had a tough schedule with PAOK coming to OAKA and AEK traveling to CEZ Nymburk and Rethymno. But Luca Banchi's boys weren't afraid of the flying, they are riding a three-game winning streak, and with everybody contributing, we are in for a game of the season (so far) when Brose Bamberg arrive in Athens this week!


Iberostar Tenerife did no wrong, but it's just the fact that the other teams are speeding through at the moment, taking our 2017 champs down a spot or two. All the analyst-kind-of-addicts will enjoy Tenerife's offense, offensive rating at 120.2 so far, and assists percentage above 80, with Javier Beiran flirting with a triple-double in France last week. 


Same goes for Neptunas - not a step wrong, but the others are speeding through. The team from Klaipeda will force a lot of turnovers by the opponents, will also block a lot of shots, and keep their offense simple enough for Kyle Weaver and Jerai Grant to show their individual quality. Keep an eye on Grant on the right block - that's the tougher angle for a right-handed player, but he keeps on getting good results from it. 


Remember the part about Avellino being loaded? Well, Virtus Bologna are load-er, scoring 30 points in the final quarter away from home, defeating Avellino in one of the biggest games of the Italian League so far. Game by game, we will realize that this Bologna team could do something special. Now it's up to them to figure what that is - winning the Basketball Champions League? Winning the Italian League? Winning the Italian Cup? With Kevin Punter and Tony Taylor combining for 45 points like on Sunday, it's all possible for the black V.


Tyrese Rice and his friends are heating up. Still unbeaten in the easyCredit German League, Brose Bamberg got a 19-point, 10-assist double-double from their point guard, including 9 points in the final quarter, including 4-of-4 from the charity stripe in the closing seconds. Arnoldas Kulboka and Louis Olinde combined for 17 points, great contribution from a couple of 20-year-olds for coach Ainars Bagatskis. His lesson was heard.


Five straight! Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem are on a roll, with a 6-1 record this season, and their lonesome defeat coming in the League Cup. First of the four straight games away from home was completed successfully, with a 90-74 win at Ironi Nes Ziona. Up next, Antwerp, Gilboa Galil and Fuenlabrada in the next nine days. Perfect chance to rise to the top of our Power Rankings, which should be everyone's number one priority, right? Right? Right...


It took one overtime against Torino and two against UNET Holon, but Umana Reyer Venezia are still unbeaten in the five games they played this season. Austin Daye was the MVP of the Week, and his sweet shooting touch should make him a legit MVP of the Season contender. They are in Czech Republic this week, trying to keep Opava a one-hit wonder, then it's the big one coming up, with Iberostar Tenerife coming to Venice on 31 October! Clear your calendar for that one.  

*The power rankings are entirely subjective and is in no way a true, accurate ranking systems. All comments are purely those of the author.