Team of the Month: All-European lineup dominating in November
MIES (Switzerland) - It was a short month in terms of Basketball Champions League action, but players from Nizhny Novgorod, Unicaja, Rytas Vilnius, U-BT Cluj Napoca and BAXI Manresa deserved recognition for their performances in November.
One of the two backcourt spots goes to Ivan Strebkov. Already a legend in Nizhny Novgorod, the point guard took an even bigger role this season, and his outstanding November got the club off the mark in the Basketball Champions League.
Strebkov had 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in the overtime defeat to Lavrio in Greece, then backed it up with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists against the same opponent in Russia, more than enough for a Nizhny Novgorod win.
His partnership with coach Zoran Lukic continued in the Russian national team, with a couple of double digit games for Strebkov to take Russia to 2-0 at the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers.
The other backcourt spot goes to Dario Brizuela. It comes as a solid birthday present for Unicaja's guard, who turned 27 this past month, and in two games against JDA Dijon he had 33 points while knocking down 8-of-11 shots from beyond the three-point line.
Brizuela only played 43 minutes in those two games, which makes his contribution even more impressive. He stayed active during the BCL break, helping Spain to a 2-0 start in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers.
The frontcourt belongs to Ivan Buva, Andrija Stipanovic and Ismael Bako. Buva has been amazing for Rytas Vilnius all season long, scoring in double digits in every single game in both the Lithuanian League and the Basketball Champions League.
Buva had a couple of games against his former club Besiktas Icrypex in November, getting 12 points and 8 rebounds in Istanbul, and then exploding for 27 points in just 24 minutes in the reverse fixture in Vilnius, even hitting a season-high two three-pointers in that game, compared to just six triples made in other 13 games of the season.
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Ivan Buva is a Croat, and he's joined in the squad by another big guy who spent a lot of his playing days in Croatia. Andrija Stipanovic scored 39 points with 12 rebounds across two games against Hapoel U-NET Holon, helping U-BT Cluj Napoca to a 3-1 record to lead their group in the BCL.
Stipanovic is turning 35 this December, but shows no signs of slowing down. He has been in double figures in all but one game since the start of the BCL Qualifying Rounds, and is hungry for more wins with the Romanian champions in their first BCL season.
Finally, the spot under the rim belongs to BAXI Manresa's Ismael Bako. The dunking Belgian had a monster game against Pinar Karsiyaka, with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal, all done while shooting 8-of-8 from the field to protect Manresa's records as the only unbeaten team in the BCL this season.
Bako crowned his November with a huge game for Belgium in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers. The 26-year-old had a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double with 5 assists to help Belgium pick up an upset win over Serbia.
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