04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
35 Zach Hankins (JLM), 5 Mareks Mejeris (JLM)
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Seven takeaways from Tuesday: Dunk for the win, steal for the all-time lead

MIES (Switzerland) - On the penultimate day before the national teams' break, JDA Dijon, ERA Nymburk and Rytas Vilnius all protected their home courts. Meanwhile, Bakken Bears were just a couple of seconds away from doing it, too, but then allowed a game-winning dunk by Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem.

Since we're in Season Seven, here is what happened on Tuesday, described in seven takeaways.

#1 Dunk for the win

If you have to win a game on the very last possession, make it special. Don't go in for random layups or try to draw a foul to get free throws. Do it Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem style - with authority.

Ryan Evans made the turnaround jumper from the baseline to give the Bakken Bears a one point lead with 6.5 seconds left to play. Coach Aleksandar Dzikic set up a play for Levi Randolph to attack on the right wing, and Mareks Mejeris was supposed to wait in the dunker spot.

Executed to perfection, Mejeris went in for the highlight and dunked it down to give Hapoel a 72-71 win in Denmark. Bonus points are for the celebration. While all of his teammates were ecstatic, look at Mareks here. No emotion whatsoever, as if to say: "This is what I do 24/7."

Jerusalem are winning close games 24/7. Just like that, with two clutch wins over Darussafaka and the Bears, they are up to 2-1, despite having a -6 points' difference after three games.

Mejeris was also the top scorer for them on the day with 15, Zach Hankins and Randolph had 14, Khadeen Carrington scored 11. Big win on the road for the red club.

#2 All-time steals king

Over the years, the BCL helped David Holston make a name for himself, and David Holston helped the BCL become a fun environment with his unreal talent, crossovers that make you weak in the knees, passes that nobody else sees, or long range bombs from basically anywhere across the half court line. Just like at this move, the panache is off the charts in this one.

What we failed to acknowledge with all of his offensive skills on display week in, week out, is the fact that Holston is an elite defender. In fact, the best one ever in this competition.

With two steals against Dinamo BDS Sassari, David Holston powered his JDA Bourgogne Dijon side to an 88-80 win, while also taking the top spot on the all-time list in terms of steals. He has 92 of them now, one more than previous record holder Jeremy Leloup, his former teammate for a couple of seasons in Dijon.

Holston is amazing. At 36, 167cm/5'6'', just a proof that anything is possible, including dominating the defensive end on the floor against 30cm taller people.

#3 Dijon for two

The rest of the Dijon crew are also amazing, and under coach Nenad Markovic, they found a way to dominate inside the arc. That's why you see a guy like Gavin Ware finish with an 11-of-14 shooting night to get 23 points and 8 rebounds without even attempting to shoot from outside the arc.

Dijon made 31 two-pointers against Sassari on Tuesday, becoming the first team to get 30+ twos in a BCL game this season. The last team to score 30+ shots from inside the line was, you guessed it, Dijon. Last season, against Unicaja, also done in November.

Threes are cool, but going old school can also be a tool to get some winning fuel in the Group G pool, where 2-0 Unicaja rule, but 2-1 Dijon are a hidden jewel if you like big guys like Ware being cruel.

#4 Start of a new ERA

Last week, ERA Nymburk parted ways with Roberts Stelmahers in a surprising move, considering the fact they had to fight ZZ Leiden to get to him in the first place. Stelmahers signed with ZZ Leiden on July 4, then, just 26 days later, was announced as the new head coach for ERA Nymburk.

It felt like a logical next step for the man who took Kalev/Cramo to the Regular Season here, but a shaky start with some negative records brought the cooperation to an early end. Up stepped Ladislav Sokolovsky, and immediately got a come-from-behind win over Bahcesehir College in his first game.

It finished 79-76 in Czech Republic. No, there was no drama at the end, Jamar Smith's three-pointer at the buzzer just cut the gap from six to three, but it was all about Nymburk sharing the ball offensively and holding Bahcesehir to four points in the first seven minutes of the fourth to take control of the game.

Nymburk dished out 26 assists on the day, the most for a team in the BCL this season, sharing that mark with JDA Dijon (also done on Tuesday), and Hapoel Atsmon Holon (back on Gameday 1).

New coach, new ERA. Eleven players took the court, ten of them scored, Nate Watson dunking his way to 16, a team-high. Nymburk are back to 1-2, which is excellent news for Surne Bilbao. They are on the road in Laktasi to face Igokea on Wednesday, a win for the Spaniards would put them TWO GAMES ahead of everybody else in that group.

That's almost like going through check-in, dropping the baggage off and just waiting for the call to board the Round of 16 flight already. Business class.

#5 Boutsiele ties Alpha Kaba

Basketball is an international sport, you know that. That's why it's possible for a French guy to tie a national record while playing for a Turkish club in Czech Republic, reaching the mark set by the other French guy who made a name for himself in Turkey, too, set that national record while playing for a Serbian club and is currently under contract with the Montenegrin champs.

Best part? He's actually not considered a French player anymore...

So, Jerry Boutsiele plays for Bahcesehir College this season. Against Nymburk, he had 17 points and 14 rebounds, getting his fourth double-double in the BCL.

The only other French player with four double-doubles is Alpha Kaba. He was a part of Mega Basket when he did it back in 2016-17, showing potential that got him selected in the 2017 NBA Draft. He moved on to clubs in France before signing for Gaziantep in Turkey and ending up as the League MVP last season.

Nowadays Kaba plays for Buducnost VOLI, and for the Guinea national basketball team. He was born in Blois, France in 1996, and played for France in the U18s and U20s, but switched to Guinea on senior level. Gotta love the geography behind the basketball...

#6 Marcus Monster Foster

It used to be Rytas Arena. It's called Foster Home now.

Rytas Vilnius got their first win of the season, demolishing Peristeri bwin 89-64 in Lithuania. It was their biggest win in BCL history, it was the first time they lead from start to finish, and they had 52 rebounds, 12 more than on any other BCL night so far.

Marcus Foster was the face of this win, finishing the first half with 17 points in 17 minutes - fitting, for a player wearing the number 17 on his jersey. The 27-year-old had team-highs of 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists when the game ended.

Foster is now the first player to get 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists in a single BCL game since Hans Vanwijn did it with Dijon in January 2021.

#7 Rude awakening for Peristeri

Just 24 hours ago, Peristeri bwin were in a perfect position, up at 2-0 with a win over the defending champs Lenovo Tenerife in there. But this format takes no prisoners, a single defeat put Peristeri in a lot of danger.

Because they lost to Rytas by 25 - their biggest defeat on the road in BCL - they now have to chase a 26-point win over the Lithuanian champs to get the tiebreaker later this month.

All of a sudden, finishing at #1 in the group seems like mission impossible, especially when they know they have to travel to Tenerife; where not a lot of road teams end up victorious, and they also have to get to Israel to face Bnei Ofek Dist Herzliya; where Rytas Vilnius already tripped up this season.

It's a tricky competition system. It goes from "oh we're about to have the entire month off and move straight to Round of 16" to "so what do we need to do to avoid last place" really fast. Peristeri will use the break to figure things out and bounce back, but 2-1 with -2 points' difference and two road games left sounds dangerous.