Opening week standout performances
MIES (Switzerland) - The opening week of the 2020-21 Regular Season featured only four game, as per the Return to Play protocol, but served as a reminder that the quality of play in the Basketball Champions League doesn't rely on quantity.
Among the several excellent performances we witnessed in the four Week 1 contests, those of Marco Spissu, Axel Julien, Nico Brussino, Justin Tillman, Giorgi Shermadini truly stand out, with three of them setting new BCL career-highs in either scoring or efficiency rating:
Ironman Spissu paces Dinamo Sassari
Marco Spissu was the only player this week to stay on the court for as long as 37 minutes, and he wasn't even involved in the sole game of the week that went to overtime.
The Italian point guard set the pace right from the start in Sassari's 93-84 home win against Galatasaray, did a bit of everything on the floor and, perhaps even more importantly, shot 6 of 9 from three-point range on a night when both teams struggled with their downtown shooting.
The Italian point guard scored 22 points on 7 of 11 from the floor, dished 8 assists, grabbed 6 rebounds and came up with 2 steals to register an efficiency rating of 33, just one mark lower than his personal BCL record.
Spissu is the only player in the BCL to register three games of at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists since the start of the previous season (approximately one calendar year ago).
Julien signs off Dijon's monumental comeback
🏆 26 points marqués - 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙧𝙙 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙡 𝙚𝙣 𝘾𝙝𝙖𝙢𝙥𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙜𝙪𝙚 - pour le capitaine @julienaxel5 !#MyJDA #Dijon #BasketballCL pic.twitter.com/DJPb5Pfnhe— JDA Dijon Basket (@jdadijonbasket) October 21, 2020
On Tuesday, JDA Dijon needed David Holston to put on his fourth-quarter superman cape to help them climb back from an 18-point deficit against Keravnos, but Axel Julien was the man that finished off the job and led the French team to a 91-79 victory in overtime.
Dijon outscored their Cypriot visitors by 23 points during the 32 minutes Julien spent on the floor, as the French point guard scored a BCL career-high 26 points -- including 9 points in quick sequence in overtime to seal the deal for his team -- on 10 of 16 shooting from the floor
Julien added 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 very important (and rare, for his height) block in the extra period and recorded an efficiency rating of 25.
Brussino keeps the faith alive for Zaragoza
When Pszczólka Start Lublin claimed an 11-point lead, their biggest of the night, with less than five minutes left to play in their Wednesday night home clash with Casademont Zaragoza, even the most optimistic fan of the Spanish team must have thought the game was all but over.
But Nicolas Brussino, who was excellent for Zaragoza all night, drilled a triple 2:53 from the end, followed up with a pair of free-throws and then sunk two more from the stripe to bring the visitors ahead 80-79.
The Argentinian international fouled out on the next play, but he had restored the faith and, effectively, set the stage for DJ Seeley's game-winning triple at the buzzer a few seconds later.
Brussino finished with 21 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and a PER of 22, his new personal best in a BCL Regular Season game.
Tillman provides Sassari with spark off the bench
🔒 @JTillman23 is locked in the first half with 9PTS & 5REB! #BasketballCL I @Dinamo_Sassari pic.twitter.com/8WNlWNqa80— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) October 21, 2020
There are a few reasons why Sassari dominated Galatasaray inside on Wednesday night (the Italian team out-scored their visitors 52 to 32 in the paint and out-rebounded them 43 to 30) but Justin Tillman proved that size superiority was not one of them.
Tillman, who stands at 2.00m (6ft 7in), certainly looked much bigger to the Galatasaray frontcourt as he came off the bench and caused havoc in the low post almost on every possession.
In what was his BCL debut, the 24-year-old American finished with 17 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field, 7 rebounds and an efficiency rating of 18 in just 20 minutes of play.
Shermadini towers over Bears
Is Giorgi Shermadini's baby hook the most reliably devastating shot in the BCL? It certainly looked that way in the first game of the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, as Iberostar Tenerife cruised past Bakken Bears 98-73 at home.
The Georgian center made all nine of his first shots from the floor, scoring his first 20 points in the game in admirable flawless fashion. He finished with 26 points on 10 of 12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block.
Shermadini registered a new BCL personal-best efficiency rating of 34 in the season opener, in what is possibly a declaration of his intention to maintain his status as the league's best center in 2020-21, after being voted in the 2019-20 Star Lineup.