Seven takeaways from Tuesday: Spanoulis spoils Marcelinho's big night; Babb stuns Rytas
MIES (Switzerland) - Another busy night in the Basketball Champions League saw the winning streak end at 12 games for Lenovo Tenerife. They lost to Peristeri bwin in Greece, while Surne Bilbao, Igokea m:tel and Bnei Ofek Dist Herzliya made sure the hosts won in the other three games of the day, too.
To help you keep up with all the things happening in the BCL, we came up with the usual Seven Takeaways from each day of action. Seven, as in Season Seven of this competition, which has a new career leader since Tuesday.
#1 Marcelinho takes the all-time lead
Back in 2019, there was a player 36 years, 4 months and 20 days old making his BCL debut. With everything that happened in the world from 2019 to today, how crazy is it that we are talking about a record breaker in 2022?
Marcelinho Huertas is now a 39-year-old with the all-time assists record in the Basketball Champions League to his name. The Magician was in fine form on the road in Greece, but his 17 points and 9 assists couldn't help Lenovo Tenerife maintain their perfect start to the season.
By overtaking Dusan Djordjevic on the list, Huertas added another achievement to his already unreal list of accomplishments: BCL Final Four MVP, BCL champ, BCL Star Lineup First and Second Team selections, FIBA Intercontinental Cup winner, FIBA Intercontinental Cup MVP, three-time Spanish champ, FIBA South American Championship MVP, FIBA EuroCup champ... It goes on and on.
And nobody expects it to stop, even when he gets into 40s. But a winner being a winner, the achievement didn't sit with him on the day.
"I wish we would've won today instead of getting this," Marcelinho said after the loss.
#2 Spanoulis has a dream
The reason why Marcelinho Huertas wasn't the happiest? Vasilis Spanoulis and his Peristeri bwin squad. They defeated Lenovo Tenerife 88-81, handing them their first defeat in all competitions this season, and also their first defeat in the BCL since January when they lost the Play-In Series Game 2 against Pinar Karsiyaka.
The best part about the win isn't in the boxscore. The crucial number here was one - as in the number of days Spanoulis had to prepare the team for this matchup with the defending champs, having played a late weekend game in Greece.
"For us, it was a big challenge to face them, to see where we are," Spanoulis said. "I am very proud of my players, they have a big heart, we only had one day to prepare and it was amazing how fast they received the information and the game plan. All the credit goes to my players, the fighters today."
It wasn't just about the players and the execution. For the first time in a long time, Peristeri's Andreas Papandreou Arena was rocking with the fans carrying the team to this big win.
"This was my dream when I came here to Peristeri. When we had the interviews on my first day here, I said my number one goal is to see this arena full. It's still my goal. I want to thank all the fans who came, we want even more on Sunday to have the full gym against AEK," the head coach expressed his wishes.
Aleksa Radanov also praised the fans, and led the team with 21 points on the night. Marcus Denmon and Sylvain Francisco had 16 each, they were the only other players in double digits, but Peristeri had five more guys scoring between five and nine points. The kind of balanced offense you need to stun the defending champs.
#3 Julian's not a Gamble
Sometimes, nomen est omen thing doesn't work. Because when you sign a guy like Julian Gamble, you're not gambling at all, you're gonna win, and everybody knows it by now.
The 33-year-old center joined Bnei Ofek Dist Herzliya with immediate impact. He had 24 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, with 5 rebounds in his box, too. It was his second-best BCL game scoring-wise, he had 28 back in 2018 when he played for Nanterre 92.
Julian has been in Europe for the past nine years, making a difference and averaging double digits on every team he played for, from Saint-Vallier in the French Second Division, through Circus Brussels, Telekom Baskets Bonn, Nanterre 92, Segafredo Virtus Bologna, Lenovo Tenerife and Hereda San Pablo Burgos.
His big game helped Bnei Ofek Dist Herzliya to a 90-85 win over Rytas Vilnius, while creating a triple-headed monster, because Maurice Kemp had 23 points - winning his first BCL game ever, after going 0-6 - and Chris Babb's dagger triple took him to 20 on the night, too.
Three players capable of scoring 20+ in a single game? Message received.
#4 Crawford gets BCL season-high
Igokea m:tel defeated ERA Nymburk 91-74, and if there were any questions raised about Bryant Crawford's status in Igokea after his first four games with the team, he took the question mark, straightened it completely and turned it into an exclamation point.
Crawford scored 36 points over his first four games in the BCL and the Adriatic League. He almost had more in a single game on Tuesday, scoring 33 points to take down the Czech champs, send them to 0-2, while getting Igokea their first win of the campaign, and getting himself the lead in the Most Points in a Game department of the BCL Season Seven, just ahead of Joe Ragland's 31-point performance.
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The man from Silver Spring, Maryland (US) only had one higher scoring game in his entire career, when he put up 35 for Gilboa Galil in the Israeli Winner League. It was his European competitions best mark by some distance, he never got more than 19 while playing the FIBA Europe Cup with UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia.
#5 Should we be worried about Rytas?
That defeat in Israel - after being up by 17 - was the fourth straight for the Lithuanian champs in all competitions. Rytas Vilnius started the season with three straight wins in the Lithuanian League, then lost to Lenovo Tenerife, Nevezis, Jonava and Bnei Ofek Dist Herzliya.
Maybe they can find some solace in the fact that the last three of those defeats were by single digits. But with that exceptional run to finish the last season with the championship in Lithuania, and expectations even higher to 2022-23, this is not the start anybody had in mind for them.
#6 Should we be worried about Nymburk?
ERA Nymburk were probably the team that used the BCL the best for their growth in European ranks. Because four or five seasons ago, nobody would think anything is wrong there, but with the amount of success they've had in the BCL recently, an 0-2 start is confusing.
They are struggling offensively, failing to reach their usual 80+ point games in the BCL, and they even lost a game in the Czech championship to Decin. Nobody would bat an eye to a team losing a domestic league game, especially not this early in the season, but we are talking about a club that went 35-1, 31-1, 32-0, 31-1, 31-1 in the Regular Season in the NBL over the last five seasons, respectively.
#7 All about defense in Bilbao
There are different kinds of defensive pressure in basketball, and for Surne Bilbao, it is not about forcing turnovers or getting steals to start this season. It's about contesting the shots and making life difficult for the opponent.
They held ERA Nymburk to 48 percent shooting from the two-point area and just 22 percent from beyond the arc. In the Spanish League, Joventut got 48 and 38 in those two categories, Betis went 49 and 24, Valencia 44 and 29 percent.
As of Tuesday, add Bahcesehir College to the list, because they hit only 46 percent from two-point range and 35 from three-point range. Bilbao stormed away to an 80-66 win, enjoying the view from the top of Group D, as the only 2-0 team there. Igokea and Bahcesehir are 1-1, Nymburk 0-2.
So what does it take to defeat Surne Bilbao? A lot of shot making, apparently. Granada knocked down 55 percent of their two-pointers and 43 percent of their three-pointers to hand Bilbao their only defeat of the season so far.
Surne Bilbao, 3-1 in Spain, 2-0 in the BCL. The Men in Black look impressive.