20 October, 2020
09 May, 2021
15 Miro Bilan (CRO)
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BCL stars steal the limelight in November window of Continental Qualifiers

MIES (Switzerland) - There is nothing quite like putting on the national team jersey and representing one's country, even for the most accomplished on club level professional athletes.

Several players belonging to Basketball Champions League clubs were reminded of that special feeling,  and achieved  impressive results in the process, during the second window of the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 and FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers, which concluded on November 30th.

It's indicative that three players on Team of Gameday 3 in the FIBA EuroBasket Qualifiers - Miro Bilan, Giorgi Shermadini and Tamir Blatt -play for BCL contenders, while the other two were in the league up until last season.


Croatia's Miro Bilan shined with Dinamo Sassari in the BCL through November and made the Team of the Month and last weekend he towered over Turkey's big men in the Group D clash between the two nations in the Istanbul 'bubble'.

Bilan propelled his team to a 79-62 win with a stratospheric display rated at 37 in terms of efficiency, as he collected 30 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists and his teammate on Croatia and Sassari, Filip Kruslin, had 9 points and 4 assists.

Croatia went on to also beat Sweden 87-72 two days later, behind a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds by Bilan, and sealed their passage to FIBA EuroBasket 2022.


Iberostar Tenerife's Giorgi Shermadini, who accompanied Bilan in the frontcourt of Team of Gameday 3, put up another stellar display for his national team and he led Georgia to a 91-85 victory over hosts Finland in Group E action, in Espoo.

The big man of the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 co-hosts had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists for an efficiency rating of 33 and his teammate on Georgia but rival in the BCL and the Spanish Liga Endesa, Thad McFadden of BCL champs Hereda San Pablo Burgos, posted an impressive double-double of 14 points and 10 assists.

Interestingly, Shermadini's teammate at Tenerife, Sasu Salin, was Finland's best player on the night and finished with 22 points in a losing effort.

Of course McFadden, who was named MVP at the 2020 BCL Final 8, came back two days later with an even better performance, which earned him a place on Team of Gameday 4.

The Burgos guard paved the way for Georgia's 91-84 win over Switzerland as he poured in 24 points on 6 of 9 three-point shooting and added 6 assists for an efficiency rating of 27 against the Swiss.


There is, arguably,  no bigger challenge in European hoops than beating Spain, and Israel not only rose to the challenge but defeated the reigning world champions at their homecourt, in Valencia.

Tamir Blatt of Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem orchestrated Israel's 95-87 win over Spain in Group A action as he registered an efficiency rating of 31, on a near double-double of 21 points with 9 assists.

The young point guard had 8 assists to go with his 3 points in Israel's 78-72 win over Poland two days later, that secured Oded Kattache's team their passage to FIBA EuroBasket 2022. Guy Pnini, Idan Zalmanson, Nimrod Levi also made good contributions for the Israeli side.


FIBA Basketball World Cup bronze medalists France hosted the Group G 'bubble' in Pau with several BCL players on their roster and the most experienced of them, Amath M'Baye, paced the Bleus to a 79-56 win over Great Britain.

The Pinar Karsiyaka forward managed to collect 24 points on 9 of 13 shooting and 5 boards in just over 21 minutes of action, while JDA Dijon duo Alexandre Chassang and Axel Julien and Limoges CSP duo Nicolas Lang and Jerry Boutsiele also stepped out for Vincent Collet's team.

France went on to beat Germany 86-74 two days later and improve to 3-1 in the standings, maintaining top spot in their group, with M'Baye and the rest of the BCL players making important contributions. Germany captain Robin Benzing, of Casademont Zaragoza, had 12 points in a losing effort.


Retin Obasohan has been on a tear in the BCL since joining Czech champions ERA Nymburk but in Vilnius the Belgian point guard was merciless against his adopted home, leading Belgium to a 90-62 win over the Czech Republic in Group C action.

The Nymburk playmaker had 18 points and 7 assists for an efficiency rating of 24, while Pierre-Antoine Gillet of Filou Oostende contributed 13 points and 5 rebounds, Hans Vanwijn of JDA Dijon chipped in with 12 points and 4 assists and Jean-Marc Mwema had 8 points.

For the Czechs, Ondrej Balvin of RETABet Bilbao Basket finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds while Jaromir Bohacik of SIG Strasbourg had 9 points and 4 assists in defeat.

Obasohan delivered a similarly superb display two days later, as he scored 21 points against Lithuania, but could not prevent Belgium's 84-71 defeat to the Baltic side.

Eimantas Bendzius of Dinamo Sassari was excellent for the winners and led all Lithuania scorers with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the floor while team captain Jonas Maciulis, of AEK, chipped in with 11 points and 4 assists.



Martins Laksa has not yet tasted success in the BCL with competition debutants Start Lublin, but he showcased his winning mentality in a must-win game for Latvia, when the Baltic nation faced off with Greece in Group H action in Sarajevo.

The veteran swingman led the way with his game-high 19 points on a flawless 6-of-6 from the floor and 4 rebounds and Latvia toppled the Greeks 77-66. Kristers Zoriks of VEF Riga made his senior national team debut in the game, several years after his last appearance with Latvia's youth teams.

Greece bounced back two days later after Ioannis Athinaiou of Peristeri orchestrated a comeback from a 16-point deficit, for the Greeks to eke out an 84-78 win against Bulgaria in overtime. The Peristeri guard finished with 21 points on 6 of 9 three-point shooting and an efficiency rating of 18.

The Greeks punched their ticket to the 2022 tournament thanks to that win and another ticket from Group H found its rightful owner on the same day as Bosnia and Herzegovina defeated Latvia 79-73 behind 10 points and 7 rebounds from Emir Sulejmanovic.

The Tenerife power forward was coming off a double-double display two days earlier, when he collected 10 points and 11 rebounds in Bosnia and Herzegovina's 88-49 rout of Bulgaria.

Several more players whose play we enjoy in the BCL, such as Slovenian Luka Rupnik and Spanish Jonathan Barreiro of Casademont Zaragoza or Italian Marco Spissu of Sassari, made crucial contributions to their respective national teams during this Qualifiers window, helping them clinch a spot in FIBA EuroBasket 2022.


When Ishmail Wainright stepped out for his adopted nation of Uganda this weekend he could not possibly have imagined that he would post a performance that would only make headlines in the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 headlines but in the country's basketball history books as well.

The SIG Strasbourg small forward finished with an outlandish efficiency rating of 51 to propel Uganda to an 101-98 win over Cape Verde in Group E action in Egypt.

Wainright poured in 36 points on an almost perfect 14 of 18 shooting from the floor, collected 13 rebounds for a double-double, dished 7 assists and came up with 2 steals.

Uganda now stand in second place in the group, behind the still undefeated Egypt, on a 2-1 record.

Meanwhile in Group D, Nianta Diarra of Cholet came up with a game-high 19 points and added 11 rebounds and 2 blocks to lead Mali to a 70-64 win over Rwanda.

Diarra's efforts in the next two games however in the Rwanda 'bubble' could not prevent his national team's losses to South Sudan and Nigeria so Mali dropped to third place in the group on a 1-2 record.