Seven takeaways from Tuesday: Miraculous comeback sends defending champs to Quarter-Finals
MIES (Switzerland) - Lenovo Tenerife trailed by 12 points with just over four minutes left to play, away from home. But the defending champions, Lenovo Tenerife, weren't just going to lay down their weapons in coach Txus Vidorreta's hometown, Bilbao.
If you couldn't catch this and the other four games that took place on Tuesday, here's our Seven Takeaways with all you need to know:
#1 Champs' comeback
For 36 minutes, it did not look like Lenovo Tenerife were having a fun night. Surne Bilbao opened up a 70-58 lead with just over four minutes left to play, and the local fans were already celebrating a win over the title holders.
But, there's just something in the air in Bilbao that makes Tenerife impossible to beat. In the same arena where they won the BCL last season, they started coming back, one point at a time, before making it 72-72 in the final minute on a Leandro Bolmaro clutch three-pointer. The newest addition to the squad had 8 points in 22 minutes off the bench.
Bilbao had a chance to regain the lead, but missed the shot and tapped the ball out of bounds, allowing coach Vidorreta to set up a play with 5.4 seconds left.
The winningest coach in BCL history, who was calling the plays in his 100th BCL game in his hometown, created a bit of magic once again. Rather than counting on the usual suspects -- Marcelinho Huertas, Sasu Salin, Giorgi Shermadini -- Vidorreta called Jaime Fernandez's number.
Not a weird call, at all, but Fernandez was scoreless at that point, having gone 0-for-3 in seven minutes of action. Sure enough, he found his way through Bilbao's defense on the last possession, getting a floater to fall with 0.4 left to play and making it 74-72 for Tenerife, because Bilbao did not get their shot off in time on the other end.
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With Fernandez hitting the game-winner, Tenerife escaped a 12-point hole and climbed to 4-0 in the standings, three wins clear of Bilbao and Darussafaka Lassa with two games to play. Basic math means the defending champs can't finish lower than second and have become the first team to reach the Quarter-Finals.
Marcelinho had 16 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds, Shermadini counted to 14, while Bruno Fitipaldo finished with 11 off the bench. Fernandez scored 2 points to win the game. Bilbao got 19 from Adam Smith, they are now in a big three-way battle for the other ticket in Group L.
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#2 All-Spanish affairs
With this win, Lenovo Tenerife moved to 6-3 in their all-time record against the Spanish teams in the BCL. However, they are 5-0 in their last five games, meaning they opened up a champagne when they saw they were drawn up against Surne Bilbao and UCAM Murcia in the Round of 16.
#3 Unicaja also unbeaten
Unicaja could be through to the Quarter-Finals by the end of the week, but still have to travel to Istanbul to face Galatasaray Nef for the second time in a matter of 48 hours. The first round belonged to Unicaja, thanks to a knockdown by Tyson.
It wasn't Mike Tyson, though. It was Tyson Carter, the MVP of the Copa del Rey which Unicaja just won a couple of weeks ago. Carter knocked down the biggest shot of the day, giving Unicaja a three-point lead with less than a minute to play.
Galatasaray tried going for a two and foul afterwards, but committed an unsportsmanlike foul inside the final 10 seconds of the game, allowing Dario Brizuela to ice the game from the line and set the final score at 81-76.
It was an awesome game, which saw 11 lead changes and a dramatic finish in front of a large audience in Malaga. Unicaja are up to 3-0 for now, two wins ahead of Galatasaray, three up on Limoges CSP.
Brizuela finished with 20 points in 18 minutes, Kendrick Perry got 19, while Carter had 8 points, including the crucial triple. Galatasaray Nef got 19 from Angelo Caloiaro, Sadik Emir Kabaca finished with 13 and a number of highlight plays as the stretch "five."
#4 Bring back the 1990s
Limoges CSP in their retro jersey, the dark court, the beautiful arena, and a club with rich tradition in AEK at the other end - this one had a feel of European basketball from the 1990s. Even the final score was like it's the 1990s, because AEK won the game 69-63.
MVP of February Akil Mitchell is coming back from an injury and saw his streak of double digit games end with just 2 points in 15 minutes. But with the MVP struggling, coach Ilias Kantzouris found another solution in the middle, getting a fine debut from the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 winner.
Pierre Oriola had 12 points in 20 minutes off the bench, hitting both of his three-point attempts, and leading the second unit alongside Janis Strelnieks who had 16. Another new man, Brynton Lemar, was also up to the occasion, getting 16 points and the dagger to seal the deal.
AEK are now 3-1 with two home games remaining. That Quarter-Finals ticket hasn't been this close since they played the Final in 2020.
#5 Darussafaka staying alive
What it took to finally get a win over one of those Spanish opponents: comeback from -19; double overtime; club's all-time high in points in a BCL game; most free throws made in a single BCL game this season; most free throws attempted in a single BCL game this season.
UCAM Murcia had multiple chances of ending Darussafaka Lassa's season on Tuesday, but the Turkish team kept coming back and eventually had two chances to win the game themselves. But both at the end of the fourth quarter and the first overtime, Selcuk Ernak's men committed turnovers.
With 50 minutes of basketball in the air, Matt Mooney decided to end it. His strong drive to the rim gave Darussafaka a one-point lead, and Travis Trice missed a long three for the win at the other end. Final score 105-104, record breaking points for both teams in the BCL.
🇹🇷 @dackabasket defeat UCAM Murcia in a 2OT thriller!— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) March 7, 2023
📺 You 𝗗𝗢 𝗡𝗢𝗧 want to miss the game highlights! 🍿
The Official Partner of the event is Lubelskie - Lubelskie Tastelife!#Lubelskie #zDUMĄwspieramySport #LubelskieTastelife pic.twitter.com/mi1qUWKBlx
Dacka went 32-of-38 from the free throw line for even more records, and Mooney led six men in double figures with 27 points.
Thaddus McFadden scored 25 for UCAM Murcia, getting back-to-back games of 25+ points. He only had two such games in his previous 62 BCL appearances, and with 746 career points to his name, he's up to fifth spot among the all-time scorers.
|1||Lenovo Tenerife *||4||4||0||100||317||262||55||79.2||65.5||8|
#6 Hapoel Atsmon Holon out
How much difference a season makes. Hapoel Atsmon Holon looked like the team to beat after they reached the Final Four last season, they were impressive in the first round and the Play-In Series, but just went missing during the Round of 16.
With a 77-65 defeat in Jerusalem, Joe Ragland and his teammates dropped to 0-4. Since Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem are up to 3-1, and either SIG Strasbourg or JDA Bourgogne Dijon are also going to be at 3-1, it's clear that Holon cannot finish among the top two in their group.
To think that they were close to going 3-0, because of dramatic finishes to games and double digit leads erased, and are now out... Just speaks volumes on how close this BCL season really is.
#7 Block party
We try to keep it diverse in our highlights, with alley-oops, poster dunks, dagger shots, game winners, elite assists, trick plays and blocks. But on Tuesday, it felt like block, block, block, block, block...
There were 35 blocks in five games, with the climax in the all-Israeli battle where there were 13 blocks, nine of them by the hosts. Zach Hankins collected 2 blocks on the day, getting to 51 blocks in his BCL career, moving up to fifth place on the all-time list.
A real block party, all over the continent!