20 October, 2020
09 May, 2021
33 Kyle Wiltjer (ANKA)
Igor Curkovic's Champions League Help-Side
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Mirror, mirror on the wall: Which overseas team are you?

ZAGREB (Croatia) - The Play-Offs are about to start, with 16 teams waiting for their chance to take the throne. With 16 clubs left standing in the Play-Offs, this kind of feels like the NBA Play-Offs, right? Okay, I know it's a stretch, but 16 teams fighting for the title after a long and dramatic Regular Season, with equal chances of making it all the way... I'm giving it a "right? Right." ending of the intro. Right.

If you're any kind of a competition anywhere in the world, you look up to what NBA is doing. Either in detailed tactics, shooting trends, game pace, or in the way they interact with their audience, on websites, social media, and similar platforms. In a way, the rest of the basketball world is just trying to hold a gigantic mirror and duplicate whatever is going on in the strongest league of them all.

Now, if you're an avid reader of the Basketball Champions League Help-Side Column, you know that imagining a gigantic mirror will lead to a 2000 word story about teams actually being a BCL version of their NBA counterparts. We'll set up a few ground rules how to conduct this comparison thing without it getting too complicated.

(In reality, it already IS too complicated, and we're in the 200s in the word count.)

The Jersey Rule

This one is simple, if you have a jersey that reminds people of an NBA team, you're probably that team in the mirror. The Jersey Rule problem? Author of this story is colorblind. For real.

The Tactics Rule

If you apply the same kind of Xs and Os as an NBA team, you're that team in the mirror. The Tactics Rule problem? As already told in the intro, most of the world is taking a bunch of tactics straight out of NBA teams' playbooks anyway.

The Roster Rule

If you have a similar roster as an NBA team, you're that team in the mirror. The Roster Rule problem? Hey, this rule could apply to all the teams because ball dominant guards, strong wings and athletic running bigs are the type of roster from any kind of U16 level all the way up to NBA.

The Coach Rule

You've got a loud, passionate coach that's making you relevant in the world of basketball again? Yep, you're probably the New York Knicks. Not a single problem with this rule.

The It's My Column and Some Of These Just Don't Have a Valid Explanation Rule


Let's go, group by group!

Group I

Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon = Dallas Mavericks

The Jersey Rule would've had Holon as the LA Lakers, since their purple-and-gold combo is indeed inspired by the actual Los Angeles Lakers. But with Hapoel playing a modern type of a 5-out offense, where the painted area is empty most of the time, it seems like they have implemented the same kind of tactics that Rick Carlisle came up with in Dallas, Texas. The Tactics Rule.

Tofas Bursa = Washington Wizards

Slow start to the season, waking up, going on a run, beating all the big names on the road, while having a lethal backcourt one-two punch. You guessed it, we're talking about Tarik Phillip and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell. Let's put it under the Roster Rule, because they've also got a hot-shooting almost-seven-footer in Tomislav Davis Zubcic Bertans.


Pinar Karsiyaka = LA Clippers

Guys who won championship with other teams, then rejoining forces to bring the ultimate joy to the club that has never a major title like this one. Tony Taylor and Amath M'Baye are the Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka of the Basketball Champions League. I guess this one goes under the Roster Rule, too.

Happy Casa Brindisi = Golden State Warriors

When you have an MVP candidate in a sharp shooting guard who can pull up from anywhere past the halfcourt line, you're probably the BCL version of the Warriors. Oh, and the other guard's last name is Thompson! Perfect! The It's My Column Rule applies, just in case you want to point out that the tactics and the rest of the rosters don't even match, like not even a little.


Group J

Lenovo Tenerife = LA Lakers

First of all, they've got Marcelinho Huertas, the same point guard who played with Kobe Bryant and, if I'm not mistaken, served him his last ever assist on the basketball court. Also, they've got the sky hook of Giorgi Shermadini. And the weather in San Cristobal de La Laguna is nice. Wow, this one made more sense than I expected. The fact that they are one of the teams to beat this season also helps. The Jersey Rule also works because of the yellow.

Hereda San Pablo Burgos = Utah Jazz

The Jersey Rule. Because the stripes are kinda similar.


VEF Riga = Portland Trail Blazers

This one is easy. Because it's such a joy to watch that guard who's wearing number 0 taking the entire league by storm, providing highlight dunks, long threes, coming up big in the clutch, dishing crazy assists, just performing above all expectations and carrying his team as an underdog all the way to the Play-Offs. Oh, and that Damian Lillard guy is also good.


Igokea = Indiana Pacers

Tall, strong, without a superstar, with a powerful point guard, coming from the part of the world where basketball is more than just a sport. Igokea Pacers are always around .500, always a sneaky Regular Season team, but it remains to be seen whether they have what it takes to make a deep run in the Play-Offs. Let's consider this as another part of the Roster Rule because of the entire team-first mentality.

Group K

SIG Strasbourg = Chicago Bulls

A juggernaut in process of rebuilding. Simple as that. After a few seasons of wandering around both domestically and internationally, SIG Strasbourg have been one of the feel-good stories of the season, winning games they used to lose all the time. Also, they have the Czech-Finnish connection, Lauri Markkanen feat. Tomas Satoransky is just an NBA version of Lassi Tuovi feat. Jaromir Bohacik.

Turk Telekom = Houston Rockets

Sam Dekker, Kyle Wiltjer, Tyler Ennis, Nick Johnson... Turk Telekom have more Rockets on their team than the Rockets. The Roster Rule applies.


AEK = Milwaukee Bucks

They've got the MVP, they shoot a lot of three-pointers, there's the Greek connection, and the Antetokounmpo brothers were seen watching AEK games from the front row while they were in Greece back in September/October. The fact that their roster is full of experienced guys all over the floor also helps the comparison. Please note that this was a better connection than the one Igokea had with the Bucks, on the Jersey Rule.

Nizhny Novgorod = New York Knicks

The Coach Rule. Zoran Lukic is for the BCL what Tom Thibodeau is for the NBA. I do feel like you could go search for Tom Thibodeau on Twitter and just replace Tom Thibodeau with Zoran Lukic in any tweet. Like...


Group L

Brose Bamberg = San Antonio Spurs

Nobody likes the extra pass more than the Spurs and Bamberg. Brose Bamberg have been that kind of a team where you have ten guys capable of scoring in double digits, where the bigs are like Twin Towers with Chase Fieler and David Kravish, where they've got a wild, running-all-the-time guard off the bench who draws a bunch of fouls on three-pointers, which makes Michele Vitali the Patty Mills of the BCL. Also, they are winning a whole bunch of games, and people are doubting them because "yeah, but this other team does this..." But Bamberg Spurs don't care. They'll win everything.


Casademont Zaragoza = Sacramento Kings

I probably should've had a Jason Thompson Rule here. But this one came to my mind when Dave Hein mentioned something about relying on "the craziness of Dylan Ennis" in our latest Coast to Coast Podcast, because the Kings have to be relying on the craziness of De'Aaron Fox, too. Good kind of craziness.

ERA Nymburk = Toronto Raptors

The Tactics Rule. Defense first, a bunch of different tricks after opponents' free throws, a bunch of wings attacking offensive rebounds and igniting the pressure all over the court. The red-black-white combination also qualifies them for the Jersey Rule, but come on, man. The main resemblance is that nobody, not ever, wants to play these guys, even though they aren't necessarily getting worldwide attention for their efforts.

Dinamo Sassari = Philadelphia 76ers

Dominant big guy in Miro Bilan, Joel Embiid. Lefty point guard in Marco Spissu, Ben Simmons. Lethal shooter in Filip Kruslin, Seth Curry. Crafty forward in Jason Burnell, Tobias Harris. Charismatic coach in Gianmarco Pozzecco, Doc Rivers. Even some of the jersey colors match, although Dinamo went for a greener version for their international campaigns. Dinamo 76ers are fun.

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 a Basketball Champions League writer and editor since day one of the competition, specializing in Power Rankings and his Takeaways on Gamedays. When he's not covering basketball, he's probably watching a Hajduk Split game somewhere.