09 October, 2018
05 May, 2019
Long Read
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Power Rankings: Strong starts by Bologna, Bonn, Besiktas, but Venezia lead the way

MIES (Basketball Champions League) - New season is now officially under way, so it is time for us to check up on our teams in the Power Rankings. Games in domestic leagues are also taken into consideration.


Petrol Olimpija have brought a lot of excitement about them in this new Basketball Champions League season, with youngsters such as Mesicek, Badzim, Samanic, Sanon on board for the ride. However, the grueling schedule of playing this competition along with Slovenian League, Slovenian Cup, ABA League and ABA Supercup is already starting to show, they are just 2-5 to start the campaign. Scottie Reynolds arrived in Ljubljana to provide some creativity from the PG spot, maybe that lifts them off the bottom.


Fribourg Olympic are still the feel-good story of the Basketball Champions League season, having stormed through the Qualifying Rounds. But, reality is starting to hit them now, they have played the most official games of all our teams at nine, and the domestic defeat to SAM Massagno is more painful for them than the one suffered in Israel last week. That's the ups and downs of playing international competitions, the experience gathered sometimes cannot be shown with all the fatigue of flying and playing midweek.


BC NN, or Nizhny Novgorod already have five wins in this young season. But, they are on a three-game losing streak, even though they looked really good for 3 of 4 quarters in all of those games. The fact they were within one possession against CSKA in the fourth quarter should be a confidence booster for Kendrick Perry and his crew, time to snap the streak as they take on Anwil in Poland on Wednesday.


My heart hurts, but I have to place medi Bayreuth so low. Also riding a three-game losing streak.


Nanterre 92 were close to being on the three-game losing streak bandwagon, but Lahaou Konate had other plans, erupting for 23 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists against JDA Dijon in the Jeep Elite French League. Just about enough to get a 77-73 win and stay positive ahead of arguably the toughest game for them in the Basketball Champions League - Tenerife are coming to town this week.


What is wrong with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg this season? They let a 16-point lead slip out of their hands against Gottingen in the German Cup, followed by letting a 24-point lead (!) slip out of their hands against Banvit in the Basketball Champions League. No good news ahead of their Monday night derby against Bamberg in the easyCredit BBL German Championship. 


Speaking of Banvit, their success against Ludwigsburg is their lone triumph of the season. Losing at home to Buyukcekmece by 22 already had the alarms go off, but a 73-69 defeat against Gaziantep just made them a bit more louder as Banvit start the Turkish Basketbol Super Ligi at 0-2. The fact that they were swept out of the Play-Offs in the Semi-Finals against Fenerbahce last season means that Banvit are winless for five straight games domestically. 


At a 4-2 record for the season, Lietkabelis should probably be higher in these Power Rankings, but that also speaks volumes about the strength of our field this season. The only reason why they aren't a top 20 or even a top 10 team is because they lost their Basketball Champions League season opener at home, and those can be costly at the end of the Regular Season. Believe me. 


Just read the Lietkabelis part again, and replace the name in blue with Ventspils.


UNET Holon changed about 90 percent of their team. It will take them awhile to get back to their 90-points-per-game, alley-oop-throwing, 25-assists-per-game style of play, but until then, they can be happy they erased a slow first half against Fribourg to start their Basketball Champions League season with a W. Only about seven more of those, and they will be through to the Play-Offs!


Want some newfound fun in European basketball? Check Anwil Wloclawek's first plays out of timeouts or to start the quarters, because coach Igor Milicic is quickly climbing the ladder of young European coaches to watch. Oh, and the fans of Anwil made the trip to Latvia last week, so we just can't wait to see what kind of atmosphere they are creating when at home!


Filou Oostende are still the most dominant team in Belgian basketball, but they were out-gunned by Promitheas in the Basketball Champions League last week. So, with the point being made about costly defeats at home, how come they are on the verge of being Top 20? Probably because that's their only defeat of the season so far, in five games played. 


Just checking - does anybody remember a missed shot by Ali Traore? The 33-year-young big guy has scored 20 points against Petrol Olimpija on 10-of-12 from the field, surrounding it with a 30-point performance against Antibes on 12-of-16 shooting, and a 17-point outing against Limoges on 7-of-8. I'm not that good of a mathematician, but I know enough to realize that SIG Strasbourg are happy to have him around. 


Greek teams usually start slower than others, but even in two wins and two defeats, you can see enough positives from the team with the acronym. PAOK were hanging around for so long against Venezia in their tough Basketball Champions League opener, and they get to be in the Top 20 even with a .500 record in all competitions just because of our experience with the Greek teams and the damage they can do later in the season. Stay woke!


Greek teams usually start slower than others, but even in two wins and two defeats, you can see enough positives from the team with the acronym. AEK were hanging around for so long against Jerusalem in their tough Basketball Champions League opener, and they get to be in the Top 20 even with a .500 record in all competitions just because of our experience with the Greek teams and the damage they can do later in the season. Stay woke!


French champs Le Mans lost their season opener against Levallois Metropolitans in Paris, but are now on a 4-1 record in the Jeep Elite League. UCAM Murcia held them to 62 points on their return to the Basketball Champions League, and they are on the road again this week, facing Banvit in Turkey. A win could do wonders for them. And even if they lose, they must keep in mind that it's a long race - yes, that was a horrible 24 hours of Le Mans reference.


The Script said in that song that when a heart breaks no it don't break even, even...but UCAM Murcia's record will always break even. Six games into the season, they sit on a 3-3 record. Don't be surprised if it stands at 6-6 soon, then at 12-12, but no matter what, chances are that UCAM will win the most important games, as they proved last season, reaching the Final Four.


Sidigas Avellino, also known as The Norris Cole Show, suffered their first defeat of the season, losing to Cremona in the Italian League over the weekend. Their schedule is about to test them to the max: @Ludwigsburg, v Virtus Bologna, v Anwil, @Brescia, @UCAM Murcia for the rest of October. Hey, that's also a perfect schedule to make a solid jump to the Top 10 of the Power Rankings with a win or two!


Promitheas Patras' scouting department probably stole my notes from the first season of the Basketball Champions League. Rion Brown was unreal in Kataja in Finland, Octavius Ellis was blocking and dunking for Mornar in Montenegro, and somebody from Promitheas was paying attention and put them on a team together. They lost to Peristeri over the weekend, 73-76, meaning they are now 3-1 for the season.


It's not "news" when a dog bites a man, one of the first lessons of journalism says, but when a man bites a dog. Same kind of premise works for CEZ Nymburk and Czech basketball, because the perennial champs already reached 100+ points in two of their three games in the league. Only defeat of the season was the one against JDA Dijon, who slowed them down completely last week. 


We were ready to put Montakit Fuenlabrada at the top of the list, after Pako Cruz knocked down that game-winner against Bamberg. But, a lot can happen in a couple of days. They were blown out by 50 against Baskonia in Liga Endesa, at home, and next thing you know, we get a notification that Agusti Julbe is no longer their head coach, and will be replaced by Josep Maria Raventos.


Hey there, Opava! Your win over Nanterre 92 was so impressive that we are still rewarding you for it, putting you just outside of Top 10, because we also appreciate your 3-1 record in the Czech League. Also, you can always point to your 1-0 record in Europe and tease your CEZ Nymburk-oriented friend that you are light years ahead of them. 


Neptunas were shown the power of Virtus Bologna in the first round, and once you get to the Neptunas part of the Power Rankings, you will see how big of a win that really was for Virtus, and how good of a coach Stefano Sacripanti was for them towards the end of the game. Another game at home, against Filou Oostende, gives Bologna a huge chance to go blazing straight out of the starting blocks. 


Brose Bamberg were just a minute away not only from their first win in the Basketball Champions League, but also from the top of the Power Rankings from Week 1. And we all know that's the most important thing, right... Still arguably the most loaded team of the competition talent-wise, but blowing an 8-point lead in a matter of seconds makes the other teams believe that Bamberg aren't superhuman. Also gives the Germans something to work on for the upcoming weeks.


Telekom Baskets Bonn are in the house! Yes, yes, we know they just lost by 19 to Tenerife, but when Iberostar are shooting 10-of-20 from beyond the arc, at home especially, nobody stays close. Bonn bounced back with a 3-0 record in the easyCredit BBL in Germany, something to be proud of as they are trying to survive the three road games in first four Gamedays in the Basketball Champions League. Also, give them a follow on Twitter and Instagram. You won't regret it, I promise.


Gotta love domestic championships. Because our #7 ranked JDA Dijon would've been 5-0 in the Jeep Elite French League, if they hadn't suffered a 77-73 defeat to our #28 ranked Nanterre 92 over the weekend. Also, with their first defeat of the season, they are now 5-1 in all competitions...


...which is way below Telenet Antwerp Giants' 7-0 start to the season! Unreal! Also, being so good early on, they take the Best Giants of European Basketball award* for the time being, ahead of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg - Riesen meaning "The Giants" in German, and Manchester Giants. Keep it up, and Oostende could be facing their toughest challenge of the Dario Gjergja era in Belgium! 
*not an official award, of course.


It is going to be a much different Besiktas Sompo Japan team compared to the years of Ufuk Sarica. Dusko Ivanovic will put all the emphasis on defense, and just ask medi Bayreuth or Pinar Karsiyaka to tell you what it's like to play against the black and white team this season. Heck, you could even ask Fenerbahce, they held on for a 78-73 win, and it could remain Besiktas' sole defeat for a long, long time. We feel you, BJK. Keep going in this direction. 


Neptune is rising from the sea and looking more powerful than ever before! Neptunas seem to be hitting the right notes from day one of their third Basketball Champions League season, and with Jerai Grant back on board, they are so good they can even blow out Zalgiris by 15 points away from home! Grant had 17 in that one, Kyle Weaver is fitting in nicely, helping them with 16 points over the weekend.


J'Covan Brown and Josh Owens are changing teams, but their modus operandi remains the same wherever they show up. Hapoel Jerusalem were powered by Brown's scoring and Owens' high-flying dunks, taking down the defending champions in Athens, coming back from a 13-point deficit late in the first half. Jerusalem are 4-1 to start the season, but their only defeat was in the League Cup. Lietkabelis will be the first Basketball Champions League team to taste the atmosphere of Pais Arena in Jerusalem, on Tuesday. 


Thad McFadden, what are they feeding you!? Iberostar Tenerife's point guard is on another level to start his Canary Islands part of the career, scoring 18, 13, 25 and 23 in his last four games. The degree of difficulty on a lot of his shots is off the charts, but righty stepbacks and lefty up-and-unders are falling for the Georgian playmaker. Tenerife won four of their opening five games this season, losing only to Real Madrid. Not bad. Not bad, at all! 


Still unbeaten in their first three games of the season, Umana Reyer Venezia are proving that sometimes the best changes are done by not changing at all. They kept most of their crew intact, and the fact that they had the confidence in coach Walter De Raffaele - despite some turbulent times over the past two years - is now paying off. Venezia are a fun team to watch, team that can low-key do a lot of damage this season. Being at home in three of our first four Gamedays is a huge opportunity to build a lead in Group B. And the Power Rankings, of course. 

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