05 October, 2021
15 May, 2022
Igor Curkovic's Champions League Help-Side
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In case you missed us: First two months, from A to Z

ZAGREB (Croatia) - There have been 63 games so far over the first two months of the season. Over those 2500+ minutes of basketball, there have been notable news whether we're talking about players, clubs, or even nations participating in the Basketball Champions League.

So while the teams are behaving like Ross and Rachel in season three*, it's time for us to refresh your memory before we close out 2021, validate seven more tickets to the Round of 16 and another 16 to the Play-In series.

(*They are/were on a break.)

Here are your ABCs of Season Six of the BCL!

A is for Arged BM Stal Ostrow Wielkopolski

Now, we've had our fair share of Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalems, Muratbey Usak Sportifs, Hapoel U-NET Credit Holons, SikeliArchivi Capo d'Orlandos... But Season Six welcomes the new winners of the Sokratis Papastathopoulos Award* because the reigning Polish champions have a name that just rolls right off your tongue.

You know how hard it is to tweet anything about them, when they take up 33 characters? And it used to be even bigger, because there was also a Slam part of the name there when they played the FIBA Europe Cup Final last season.

(*not an actual award. Sokratis, btw, is the person with the longest last name to score at the FIFA World Cup.)

B is for Bonzie's League

It was amazing that Pinar Karsiyaka were able to steal the reigning MVP of the Season over the summer. And Bonzie Colson made his impact felt instantly, knocking down the game winning three-pointer with 0.3 left on the game clock in Jerusalem, silencing the crowd, so you could hear him shout "THAT'S WHY I'M HERE!"

And as if that wasn't enough, Bonzie made it back-to-back game winners by hitting another big clutch three-pointer in the next game, against the aforementioned Polish champs Arged BM Stal Ostrow Wielkopolski.

Bonzie, man. Hitting clutch shot after clutch shot over the last two seasons, with ease.

C is for Carter's season-high

Here's the thing about Lavrio Megabolt. Christos Serelis and his front office are among the best if not the best in all of Europe in finding rookies straight from the NCAA, and turning them into high-scoring prospect for the top European levels. Think Kevin Punter. Think Kyle Allman. Think Tyson Carter.

Carter is in his second season with the Greek club, and he's already leaving a mark in his first BCL campaign. Against Nizhny Novgorod he put up 35 points, the most in a single game in the BCL this season. Keep an eye on Carter.

D is for DeVaughn Akoon Purcell, the leading scorer

Back in 2016-17, the first season of the Basketball Champions League saw Bakken Bears reach the Regular Season. One name immediately went into people's notes: DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell. Five years later, the high flying player joined Galatasaray Nef, and it seems like the best possible destination for him.

DAP is currently averaging 22.3 points per game, leading the entire league. He also had four 20+ games in the Turkish League, no wonder Galatasaray fans are back and loud, they can sense something special is in the air. And it's usually DeVaughn, rising for a dunk.

E is for Estonia

The main idea behind the Basketball Champions League was to make sure that the clubs and leagues from all over Europe were represented in this competition. A new part of the map was unlocked in Season Six, Kalev/Cramo are the winners of the Estonian Cup, Estonian League and the Latvian-Estonian Basketball League,  so it's only logical for them to take the next step and join a big continental competition.

They already have a big win to their name, on the road in Turkey, defeating Tofas Bursa, proving they deserve a place over here. And they won't settle for it, they'll push for a place in the next round, too.

F is for Fans

It's been a long time since we've seen fans in the stands, and it feels so good to watch basketball again with people creating the atmosphere all over Europe. Burgos, Vilnius, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Manresa, Dijon, Strasbourg, Oldenburg, Ostrow Wielkopolski, Karsiyaka, Holon, Treviso, Athens, Prague, Brindisi - you name it, all these places look amazing and colorful.

And no. I didn't forget Szombathely. Falco's fans have gone all over Europe to show their support, and when they start singing in their arena, it really looks and feels like you're tackling a fortress. Such a beautiful thing to see.

G is for Game of the Week

BCL and Tuesdays. BCL and Wednesdays. Those were the usual matchups, with an occasional game on Thursday, not counting the Final Fours and Final Eights. But this time around, we wanted more emphasis on a single game, also known as the Game of the Week.

That's why we separated it from the rest, sending it over to Monday night, getting a pair of clubs continental exposure in accordance with TVs and their demands. Games of the Week have been so close, out of the seven so far, only one ended in double digits. Home teams are enjoying them more, leading 5-2.

H is for Harding's buzzer beater

The shot of the season? Probably.

Jerrick Harding saved ERA Nymburk against PAOK mateco in Thessaloniki at the buzzer, when it seemed for 90 percent of that play that Nymburk lost possession and PAOK were about to win by a single point. Instead, Harding somehow somehow somehow made the shot, keeping Nymburk alive in the battle for Round of 16 or Play-In.


I is for Italian seesaw

Up and down with the Italian clubs, a seesaw we're used to around here. From Umana Reyer Venezia reaching the first Final Four, to zero Italian teams making the Round of 16 in Season Two, from Segafredo Virtus Bologna winning the whole thing in 2019, to zero Italian teams over the last two Final 8s.

This season, Banco di Sardegna Sassari and Happy Casa Brindisi started at 0-3, while Nutribullet Treviso went 3-0. Since Treviso lost their first game on Gameday 4, while Sassari and Brindisi picked up their first wins, it would only be fitting that all of them went 3-3 at the end of the Regular Season.

J is for Jerusalem out!?

Man. Since they first entered the BCL, Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem have been a mighty team. But two unlucky defeats at home leave them in a horrible position with two games remaining.

They have to travel to Turkey and Spain to face Pinar Karsiyaka and BAXI Manresa, and anything other than 2-0 could probably mean they are out of the competition before the Second Round...

K is for Karsiyaka's cold run

The fact that last season's finalists are at 2-2 is really amazing when you consider they tied their negative mark - in two games against BAXI Manresa, they scored less than 70 points.

That's the first time they've had consecutive games with less than 70 points in the BCL since October 2016. Yep. Their first two games, ever, in this competition.

L is for Longevity

Hereda San Pablo Burgos are leading in Group H, and a big reason why is their 35-year-old leader Alex Renfroe. Banco di Sardegna Sassari got their only win of the season thanks to a soon-to-be-39-year-old David Logan knocking down a dagger stepback against MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.

Guy Pnini has been huge for Hapoel U-NET Holon after celebrating his 38th birtday. Dusan Djordjevic is also 38, his coach Dario Gjergja called him Professor Doctor of Basketball after Filou Oostende picked up a road win in Estonia.

ERA Nymburk's Petr Benda will be 40 in March. BAXI Manresa's Rafa Martinez will be 40 in March. David Holston will be 36 in January, and he's still (arguably) the best point guard in this league, although 38-year-old Marcelinho Huertas might have something to say about that. MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg's Tremmell Darden is 39.

That's what it's all about when you're a pro. It's not about being really good for a year or two. It's about the longevity, about being available for your team and your coaches for 15+ years.

M is for MVP Race

I am not allowed to tell you that we already know the MVP of November. Until then, I'm here to remind you that you can follow the MVP Race throughout the season right here, and after leading MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg to a perfect record in October, it was Jonah Radebaugh who was selected for MVP of the month.

Nice trophy, MVP. Nice photos.

N is for Nutribullet Treviso's big guy

Nutribullet put Treviso back on the basketball map, and a lot of it has to do with their big guy in the middle. Henry Sims had the second best performance of all time in the BCL, getting 31 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks against AEK in Athens.

Efficiency rating said 44. Only Steven Gray had a better mark, 47, when he played for Peristeri against Rytas Vilnius last season.

O is for overtimes

We're used to close games. We saw four overtime games this season, and November 2021 goes down as the month with second most double overtimes in League history - only October 2018 saw more double overtime games than November 2021 (3-2).

P is for Play-In series

There's a new format in town. Group winners are going straight to the Round of 16, and BAXI Manresa are the only team to secure a spot over there after four Gamedays.

Second- and third-placed teams are going to the Play-In series, played as a best-of-three matchups in January, with the second-placed teams owning home court advantage. Winners of those Play-In duels will move to Round of 16, where four new group of four teams will be created.

Q is for Quino, an ideal teammate

It's been a rough year for AEK. They came in with a completely new roster, they started from scratch, and then lost three straight games to start their BCL season.

Horrible news got them off the court, too, since Stevan Jelovac suffered a stroke and is still recovering in the hospital. Quino Colom didn't forget about him, leading AEK to their first win of the season and dedicating it to Jelovac just moments after the buzzer.

Have a guy like Quino around you. An amazing basketball player, always looking for an open man, plus an ideal teammate, knowing some things are just bigger than basketball.

R is for Richard and Romanian champions

U-BT Cluj Napoca already tried getting into the BCL a couple of times, but were stuck in the Qualifying Rounds. This time around, they made it out of the qualifiers, and showed they won't be satisfied by just reaching the Regular Season.

Led by Patrick Richard, who averages 17.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists, and Andrija Stipanovic, who gets them 17.3 points per game, Cluj got to 3-1 to lead Group G.

Nobody uses their big guys quite like U-BT Cluj Napoca, read all about it.

S is for Simon says "NOPE!"

MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg's Justin Simon had the block of the season against Banco di Sardegna Sassari. That's all.

T is for Trash Talk Podcast

New season required a new kind of format for our weekly podcast. We went with the video version this time around, getting guests from the participating clubs, getting European journalists involved, getting our own experts reviewing, previewing, breaking down film room segments and much more.

It's on YouTube, here's the link for you.

U is for Unicaja's defense

There have been troubles for new teams joining the BCL. But Unicaja aren't just some random team, they are one of the strongest teams in all of Europe over the past 20 years, so of course they came prepared for the challenges of BCL.

Right now, four games in, they are sticking to the old motto that offense wins games, but defense wins championships - they are allowing 94.2 points per 100 possessions. Only two other teams are under 100 in that segment, that tells you how good they are in their first BCL adventure.

V is for vicinity

At this point, nobody should be surprised that our teams are so close to each other, we've had 40 single digit games compared to just 23 double digit games so far. And out of the 40 single digit games, 12 were one possession games. Plus, four overtimes. Plus two double overtimes.

W is for win, a feeling everybody knows in BCL

It took four Gamedays for all 32 teams to get at least one win. Meanwhile, it also took four Gamedays to be stuck with only one unbeaten team so far, and that's BAXI Manresa.

X is for X Factor

Seeing your ex is always weird. This season, it feels like so many players are getting on rendezvouses with their exes, from recent ones like Miro Bilan facing Sassari, to mid-old ones like Levi Randolph playing against SIG Strasbourg or to ancient ones like DJ Kennedy playing against MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.

But the most brutal date so far was the one where Ivan Buva met Besiktas Icrypex in Lithuania. The Croatian big guy showed no mercy, getting 27 points in just 24 minutes of work, even hitting two three-pointers. He only had two combined in the other three games.

Besiktas fans must be thinking "it could all be so simple, but you'd rather make it hard, loving you is like a battle, and we both end up with scars..."

(That's from Lauryn Hill's song called Ex-Factor, in case you're not getting it.)

Y is for YouTube

There have been over 12 million views so far on our YouTube channel, and there could be even more by the end of the season because we're trying to make BCL accessible to more and more people.

That's why we are streaming the games (geo-restrictions may apply) in real time, and that's why we're streaming the press conferences after the games, trying to give media members an opportunity to get quotes this way, when we know how tough it is to travel around the world these days.

YouTube is cool. Thank you, YouTube, for being such a cool tool.

Z is for Zoltan Perl

It doesn't get any more romantic than playing for your hometown club and being the hometown hero. That's why we suggested they just rename the club to Falco SZoltanPerly, because the 26-year-old man has given the team and the town so much joy since returning in 2019.

Perl has been in double figures in all four games so far, he gets 16.3 points, 4.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game, all done in the sixth man role, straight off the bench. Home sweet home, as Falco climb to 3-1 and have a solid chance of winning the group thanks to Zoltan and his friends.

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.