04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
17 Marcus Foster (VILN)
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Seven Takeaways from Tuesday: BCL has a new Leader in Points per Game

MIES (Switzerland) - Rytas Vilnius and UCAM Murcia defended their home courts on Tuesday, while Unicaja and AEK picked up impressive wins on the road in France and Turkey, respectively. Read all about it in our Seven Takeaways, the usual panacea for the poison when there's too much stuff going around and it's impossible to keep up with everything.

It was a big day for Marcus Foster, too. We're starting with the MVP of November, who could've easily been the MVP of January, too.

#1 Foster's MVP campaign

Take things personally. That's the main takeaway after seeing Marcus Foster count to 30 for the second time this season, powering Rytas Vilnius to a 95-88 win over Bahcesehir College.

Foster could've easily won the MVP of January award, but it went to Joe Ragland, making him the first man to win two MVP of the month awards in the same season. Foster won it back in November, and has not slowed down since, getting 25+ points in three of his last four BCL games.

He is a BCL veteran with over 30 games played in the competition. But over his first 27 appearances, he only had one 25+ point game, meaning something is in the air in Vilnius that suits him more than ever in his career.

Foster knocked down a total of 19 three-pointers in five January games, compared to 12 that he had over the six Regular Season battles. An improvement at a perfect timing, making Rytas not only a member of the sweet 16, but also a contender for the top of the Group, thanks to his 15 fourth quarter points against Bahcesehir College.

Speaking of tops, Foster now averages 22.4 points per game, leading the BCL along with TJ Shorts from Telekom Baskets Bonn. Just reaffirming his words from November, when he picked up that MVP of the month trophy.

"Having that award, winning the first MVP of the month, that sets the tone. But it shows how good of a team we've got here, because you can't be the MVP without having a great team. It definitely pushes me and adds motivation. The more my team's winning, the more I contribute, the better the chances are I could be the MVP (of the BCL)," he told us back then.

See? It's not always about the individual awards, but sometimes, those individual accolades do push the entire team forward.

#2 Jerry Boutsiele is a beast

Bahcesehir College played a solid game, and could actually be happy with a 7-point defeat to Rytas Vilnius. That's because they trailed by 22 at one point, and with that packed house in Lithuania and the way the Lithuanian champs play at home, this could've been a disaster for the Istanbul club.

But it wasn't, because they have Jerry Boutsiele. There was a reason why he was named to the Team of the Month in January, and 23 points and 10 rebounds on the day prove that Jerry is playing incredible basketball in 2022-23.

Boutsiele now has back-to-back double-doubles in the BCL, that's a first in his career, and he scored 20 or more in two of his last three BCL games. He went north of 20 only once in his first 14 games in this competition.

He just needs more help from the others, Bahcesehir College are down at 0-2 now.

#3 Unicaja doing Unicaja things

For the second straight week, a team in yellow thinks they have a shot of upsetting Unicaja. They come close in the fourth quarter, they get their hopes high, then they meet Dario Brizuela, Dylan Osetkowski, Tyson Carter and Unicaja's defense.

Last week, it was AEK. This week, it was Limoges CSP, in a rematch of the 2000 FIBA Korac Cup Final. Back then, Limoges won the tie, but now, the final score said 84-67 Unicaja, putting Ibon Navarro's team at 2-0 and +39, as close as possible to perfection.

They had 11 steals in France, getting their season-high in the BCL, and earning a 20-5 edge in points from turnovers, which sounds exactly like Unicaja basketball. Also, they shot 40 percent or better in both of their Round of 16 games so far, they won five straight games in all competitions, and seven of their last eight.

The next two weeks will be crucial for their trophy hunting ambitions: Gran Canaria on the road, Galatasaray Nef at home, Baskonia at home, Barcelona in the Copa del Rey Quarter-Finals. Entering this stretch on a winning note must feel amazing.

#4 Limoges' offense leads to defensive issues

The 14 turnovers don't sound so bad. But allowing 20+ points from turnovers in five straight games is a reason to be worried for coach Massimo Cancellieri and his staff.

Not getting good looks, not executing the offense leads to defensive issues, because Limoges CSP rarely get a chance to get back and set their defense. Instead, they are up against a running team for most of the game, and five turnovers in last six minutes would be problematic even against a team not named Unicaja.

On a positive note, Wilfried Yeguete reached 286 career rebounds in the BCL, moving him up to ninth place all-time. Unless Limoges figure it out and find a way out of the 0-2, -44 hole, Wifried will only have four more BCL games to chase records.

#5 AEKil Mitchell

AEK stunned the crowd in Istanbul in an 81-71 win over Galatasaray Nef. There were big moments from Dimitris Flionis, who was one assist away from becoming the third man in BCL history to own a triple-double. Flionis had averaged 2.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in his 38 appearances in the league before going for 11 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists against Galatasaray.

There were big moments from Janis Strelnieks, who led the second unit and finished with 18 points, done on 4-of-6 shooting from deep.

There were big moments from Kenny Williams and Konstantinos Papadakis, both of them hitting clutch threes in the second half.

But AEK are all about Akil Mitchell. Another MVP contender, Mitchell had 19 points and 13 rebounds, earning his third consecutive BCL double-double, and with six offensive rebounds, he's now up to four games with five or more offensive boards, more than any other player.

The 2018 champs are looking good. Tim Frazier just returned to the lineup, Alexander Madsen is still injured, and they went 1-1 in two road games against Unicaja and Galatasaray Nef. Better than most AEK fans hoped, probably.

#6 What's wrong with Galatasaray?

There is only one thing more contagious than confidence inside of a locker room. That's lack of confidence inside a locker room.

Galatasaray Nef felt it both ways, with everybody doing everything great last week against Limoges CSP, only to go back to their lack of confidence basketball this week. Nobody was making shots, they went 10-of-36 from beyond the arc, and find themselves in a slump that was unthinkable a month or so ago.

Galatasaray have now lost six of their last seven games in all competitions. They need time to get the new guys on the same page as the ones who were there at the start of the season, but they are running out of time, with a game against Unicaja coming up on the road next Wednesday.

Troubled times in Istanbul.

# Team P W L % Last 5 For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 UNI Unicaja 2 2 0 100   172 133 39 86 66.5 4
2 AEK AEK 2 1 1 50.0   147 159 -12 73.5 79.5 3
3 GSN Galatasaray Nef 2 1 1 50.0   171 154 17 85.5 77 3
4 CSP Limoges CSP 2 0 2 0   140 184 -44 70 92 2
#7 UCAM Murcia bouncing back

Last week, UCAM Murcia lost the all-Spanish affair against Lenovo Tenerife by 20. With every point counting in case of ties at the end of the Round of 16, they needed to come back with a bang, and a game against Surne Bilbao shouldn't have been the one, because Bilbao are one of the toughest defenses of the BCL.

But not this time. Murcia had 48 at the half and went on to win the game 90-72. Everything was going their way, but somehow, Bilbao will be happy with the final score, because UCAM owned a 29-point lead in the third quarter.

Artem Pustovyi scored 23 points in 17 minutes, but Thaddus McFadden's 17 points had a historical context. The 2020 Final Eight MVP is now up to 140 threes in his BCL days, third on the all-time list behind Sasu Salin (170) and David Holston (146).

Murcia will travel to Turkey next week, facing the only non-Spanish team of the group in Darussafaka Lassa. Good opportunity to head to the break at 2-1, way better looking record than anybody imagined after being frozen at -20 in San Cristobal de La Laguna last week.

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.