Round of 16 Group I Preview: Four Teams, two Countries
MIES (Switzerland) - The Round of 16 starts on Tuesday January 24, and Group I will be made up of half-French teams and half-Israeli teams with SIG Strasbourg, JDA Bourgogne Dijon, Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem and Hapoel Atsmon Holon.
Strasbourg and Jerusalem won their respective Regular Season groups to book their tickets to the Round of 16.
Holon eliminated Igokea m:tel, while Dijon outlasted Peristeri bwin in the Play-In series to get to this stage of the competition.
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|2||Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|3||Hapoel Atsmon Holon||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|4||JDA Bourgogne Dijon||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
What did we learn about each team from the Regular Season?
Strasbourg - Strasbourg looked like a possible contender early in the season after starting 2-0 but finished the Regular Season 2-2. Time will tell how the loss of leading scorer Matt Mitchell will affect them going forward.
Jerusalem - They weren't expected to be good this season, but that's why we play the games. Head coach Aleksandar Dzikic helped promote Speedy Smith to one of the best point guards of the season, and also made Zach Hankins look like a legit MVP performer.
Holon - Joe Ragland is a stud and he plays to his full potential in every game. Holon finished as the top scoring team in the BCL and can score the ball in bunches.
Dijon - They've been alternating between wins and losses in their last 13 (!) games in the BCL, meaning they've done so in every game so far this season, which is quite the interesting streak to be on, not losing or winning two games in a row in that span of games.
Which player is the key for each team to make it to the next stage?
Strasbourg | Rodions Kurucs played one BCL game for Strasbourg after recently signing with the team after the injury to Mitchell, but the 24-year-old has 131 games of NBA experience that will be key to helping Strasbourg make a push for the Quarter-Finals.
Jerusalem | Zach Hankins has a 20.7 efficiency per game that puts him in the top five most efficient players in the entire BCL, and he's also averaging 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game on 76.3 percent shooting from the field.
Holon | Joe Ragland, who's an MVP candidate and set the record for most assists in a single BCL game with 18 dimes against Legia Warszawa in the Regular Season. Ragland has three straight double-doubles combining points and assists and is averaging a league-leading 11.8 assists per game, the only player averaging double figure assists. He makes his teammates better and sets them up to be successful.
Dijon | The usual answer would be David Holston as Dijon's floor general and the straw that stirs the drink, but Markis McDuffie has emerged as a key contributor and running mate to Holston, averaging 22.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting 62.5 percent from the field in the team's Play-In series. If McDuffie can continue his hot streak and be a reliable complement to Holston, those two players will be a very solid one-two punch that can create some problems for opponents.
Key games on each team's schedule
The first meeting of the two French teams, Strasbourg v Dijon, and the first meeting of the two Hapoels, Jerusalem v Holon, will both take place on Wednesday February 1. The teams facing off in these games are familiar with one another, as they also play each other in their domestic leagues in France and Israel.
Strasbourg v Holon on Tuesday January 24 will also be a key game to watch, as the two teams have already met four times in the BCL, with Holon winning all four matchups (81-80 in April 2022, 93-75 in April 2022, 101-94 in January 2020 and 86-81 in November 2019). This game will be Strasbourg's 100th game in the BCL, and they will become the third team to reach that milestone in the competition.
Holon v Dijon on Wednesday February 8 will feature a fun matchup between two star point guards and BCL legends in Ragland and Holston. There should be plenty of fireworks and crafty plays in this game.
Odds of each team making it through
Jerusalem are currently one of three teams to have only one loss in the competition this season, so naturally, they will be the favorite to finish in the top spot in the group and advance to the Quarter-Finals. Strasbourg and Holon will also be contenders to advance to the next stage and compete for the top two spots up for grabs in Group I, while Dijon will look to carry momentum from their Play-In series.