Play-Offs Week 3 standout performances
MIES (Switzerland) - The somewhat shortened Week 3 schedule comprised of five games, and in each one of them the winning team relied on a an inspirational showing by a star player to get the job done.
Keith Langford of AEK, Josh Bostic of Happy Casa Brindisi, Anton Astapkovich of Nizhny Novgorod, Raymar Morgan of Pinar Karsiyaka and Giorgi Shermadini of Lenovo Tenerife are the standout performers of Week 3 in the 2020-21 BCL Play-Offs.
Here's a closer look at their exploits in this week's games:
It's Keith time, again
AEK were missing six players on Tuesday night and SIG Strasbourg came to town determined to avoid sliding to 0-3 in the standings, so the Athens side turned, as they have done time and time again, to Keith Langford for inspiration.
As usual, the veteran shooting guard duly obliged and put up another memorable display to lead AEK to a 77-68 win. Langford finished with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting from two-point range and added 2 assists, 1 rebound and 1 steal for an efficiency rating of 14.
This was the 13th consecutive BCL game in which the 37-year-old sharpshooter scored in double digits. Langford has in fact scored 10 or more points in 24 of his 25 BCL games, with the only exception an encounter in which he only played six minutes. He is on pace to surpass Dusan Sakota as AEK's all-time leading scorer in the Play-Offs. Sakota has 167 career points in the Play-Offs, while Langford has 121.
Bostic came bearing gifts
When Happy Casa Brindisi brought Josh Bostic aboard in late February, they were hoping he would be of some help in the absence of the injured D’Angelo Harrison. They didn't expect the veteran would adapt instantly, let alone he would arrive with a bag full of gifts.
The 33-year-old swingman had 22 points in the Week 2 win over Pinar Karsiyaka and scored 27 points in the win over Virtus Bologna in Italian Serie A league action at the weekend. On Tuesday night, against a Tofas Bursa side that arrived in Italy looking for a first win in Group I, Bostic continued to reach deep into his bag of tricks.
Bostic started off by hitting his first seven shots from the floor to give Brindisi a cushion, helped his team withstand the Turkish visitors' comeback attempt and lead the Italian side to a 77-75 win with 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal for an efficiency rating of 24.
Anton's March Madness
Это мог быть разгром имени БК "НН", если бы четвертая четверть не подвела. Но и такая победа нас устраивает. 🔥🌪— BC Nizhny Novgorod (@BC_NN) March 17, 2021
Наша команда забирает второй матч в Топ-16 @BasketballCL, обыграв "Тюрк Телеком" на выезде - 71:84, а вели 24 очка по ходу матча - https://t.co/ZEqbfkMOGG pic.twitter.com/bXHISbCtlR
Nizhny Novgorod had never won in Turkey since joining the BCL in 2018 but that changed on Wednesday night, thanks in great part to the fact there is something about the month of March that brings out Astapkovich's best scoring instincts.
The Russian team visited Turk Telekom and the 27-year-old small forward poured in 17 points in the first half for Nizhny to gain a lead that proved unassailable. He finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds and added 4 assists and 1 steal for a season-high efficiency rating of 24 as Nizhny won 84-71 in Ankara.
Astapkovich had previously scored 19 points in a BCL game only once, also in March albeit two years ago, in the 2019 Round of 16 home win against Reyer Venezia. Astapkovich also became the first Nizhny player to post a double-double with 15 or more points in a road game since, you guessed it, March 2019 (Vladimir Dragicevic on that occasion).
Morgan is in MVP mode
Raymar Morgan makes regular appearances on Team of the Week, was named MVP of the month for January and, on Wednesday night, he made sure everyone would understand that he is also among the front-runners in the race for season MVP.
The 32-year-old power forward came off the bench and helped Pinar Karsiyaka steady the ship and then topple Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon 72-63 on the road, as he collected 24 points and a BCL career-high 12 rebounds and registered an efficiency rating of 29.
Morgan has now become the first player in the 2020-21 BCL season to post three games with an efficiency rating of 29 or higher, and he leads all players in the Play-Offs in efficiency, with an average rating of 20.9 He is also the first player since November 2019 to post a double-double with more than 20 points off the bench in a BCL game.
Microwave Giorgi strikes again
Only three players in history have collected at least 25 points and 7 rebounds in less than 25 minutes of a single BCL game, and Giorgi Shermadini is not only one of them, but he has done it twice, and both this season!
On Wednesday night, the Georgian center needed just 23 minutes and 11 seconds to post a near double-double of 25 points and a BCL season-high 9 rebounds, also adding 3 assists to register an efficiency rating of 31 in Lenovo Tenerife's 77-64 win over VEF Riga.
In the Regular Season opener, Shermadini had collected 26 points and 7 rebounds for an efficiency rating of 34 in Tenerife's win over Bakken Bears. He is the league's third-leading player in efficiency, with an average rating of 20.4 for the season, and he is averaging 16.4 points and 6 rebounds per game.