04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
15 Jamar Smith (BKSK)
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Seven takeaways from Wednesday: Big names, big games

MIES (Switzerland) - There were seven games on Wednesday. Four of them were decided by four points or less, while the big three contenders Lenovo Tenerife, Unicaja and Galatasaray Nef made sure to send out a message to the rest of the continent asap.

Since it's Season Seven, we're bringing you the seven takeaways from each day of action in the Basketball Champions League. You can find Tuesday's takeaway by clicking this link

#1 Jamar Smith clapping

Over the last decade, fans all over Europe have witnessed Jamar Smith's greatness, especially in closing minutes of close games. It has been an amazing career, from Prostejov in Czech Republic through adventures in Israel, Germany, France, Spain, Russia and Turkey, Smith has averaged double figures in every single season in Europe.

Every single season.

So Igokea m:tel probably figured they were in trouble when he made this shot in the third quarter and started clapping.

You never want to see a guy like Smith clapping, looking like he's part-Garnett, part-Kobe on his way to a full court press.

That was just a glimpse of his second half show, where he knocked down three straight triples to single-handedly erase a 10-point deficit. He went on to hit the game-winning three-pointer, too, giving Bahcesehir College a 70-67 win.

Smith finished with 17 points, going 4-of-6 from long range after the break. Igokea m:tel were better in field goal shooting, three-point shooting, rebounds, assists, steals, points from turnovers, fast break points, second chance points, points in the paint, points from the bench, were up by 13 and led for 37:24 of the game.

They just didn't have Jamar Smith.

#2 Simon says: Let me win

Basketball is weird.

Sometimes, it's possible for a team to score 70 points, shoot 41 percent from the field, and have just one guy in double digits, and still show a significant improvement offensively compared to last season.

That's what happened with JDA Bourgogne Dijon's win on the road in Thessaloniki. They defeated PAOK mateco 70-66 thanks to Chase Simon's 25 points, done on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.

Dijon brought in David Brembly, Gregor Hrovat, Danilo Nikolic, Markis McDuffie and Jonathan Rousselle over the summer. However, it seems that their biggest improvement was from within, because they finally have Chase Simon at 100 percent.

"We had him (on the roster) last year, too. Chase knows what's important. It's important that he stays healthy, when he stays healthy he's a completely different player. Last year he struggled with injuries, and now he's playing good basketball. (Knocks on wood) We hope he stays healthy," coach Nenad Markovic explained.

Seems reasonable, when he's capable of winning a big game on the road all by himself.

#3 Galatasaray Nef are a defensive force now

MHP RIESEN, Unicaja, BAXI Manresa, Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, Prometey, Lenovo Tenerife, Hapoel Holon, Tofas Bursa, JDA Bourgogne Dijon, U-BT Cluj Napoca, Darussafaka, Arged BM Stal Ostrow Wielkopolski and Besiktas Icrypex.

Those were the 13 teams that were better ranked in defensive rating than Galatasaray Nef last season. With the way they pressed and trapped all over the floor against Filou Oostende in their 92-78 win, it feels like there won't be 13 teams ahead of them in terms of defensive rating this time around.

The numbers look impressive, nine steals on Oostende's 16 turnovers, +8 in points from turnovers, but when you see Galata's attitude on the court, it seems like coach Andreas Pistiolis created a monster.

No more Mr Nice Guy attitude. Get your applause and flowers before the game. Forget about friendships and past teammates at tip-off. Ex-Oostende player Braian Angola's first possession is a perfect example of Galatasaray's intentions this season.

#4 The green is always greener in Malaga

The greenest battle of all time happened in Sassari. Dinamo BDS Sassari in green played host to Unicaja in green, and it was green light all the way until coach Ibon Navarro saw red.

Filip Kruslin made the triple to tie the game at 69-all with a minute and a half gone in the fourth quarter. Unicaja's playcaller Navarro called for time, and it turned out to be one of the best timeouts of the week.

His guys allowed just one (yes, 1) field goal the rest of the way. What was supposed to be another close encounter turned into a comfy, no stress 87-76 win for the club from Malaga. David Kravish had 19 points in 18 minutes off the bench, Tyler Kalinoski and Dylan Osetkowski had 17 apiece, and Unicaja knocked down 14-of-29 from beyond the arc.

The Quarter-Finals last season were not enough. They want more, and it's oh-so-clear from the moment the traffic lights went green to start this campaign.

#5 Another newcomer, another win

There was a question about the best newcomer in our annual experts' prediction piece before the season. UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia needed just 40 minutes to prove they are a legit pick in that category. 

It wasn't just the fact that they beat Telekom Baskets Bonn 88-84 on the road. It was the way they did it, not surrendering when the hosts were flying over their heads for highlight dunks in the first quarter, not falling apart when Bonn got their buzzer beaters, not succumbing to TJ Shorts' playmaking.

Instead, Reggio Emilia went on a 12-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter, powered by the guys from their neighborhood - Michele Vitali, Andrea Cinciarini and Alessandro Cipolla, who had his only bucket in that crucial run.

Holding on, withstand all the opponent's attempts to knock you down, stay composed, respond in a deadly manner. Exactly the kind of basketball that Reggio Emilia were known for in their golden years under Menetti from 2011 to 2018. History repeating? Maybe not. But it's a possibility, for sure.

#6 The most SIG Strasbourg win ever

If you've seen one SIG Strasbourg win over the past two seasons, you've seen them all. Back in 2020-21, they had nine single-digit margin games. In 2021-22 they had ten. In 2022-23, they could once again be somewhere around that mark, if their matchup v Falco Vulcano Szombathely is an indicator.

Lassi Tuovi's men won the duel 81-78, with Zoltan Perl missing a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer. Most fans would be losing their mind that a shot like that was even possible to take, but in Strasbourg, they just call it "Wednesday." 

The usual suspects secured the win for SIG. DeAndre Lansdowne had 20 points, Matt Mitchell scored 17, and Marcus Keene is about to get an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Brandon Jefferson or John Roberson. He also had 20 points on the night.

#7 Defending champs got better

Marcelinho Huertas had 19 points and 7 assists, Sasu Salin scored 18 on six three-pointers, Giorgi Shermadini had 18 in 21 minutes. It's just a regular sentence for people reporting BCL news, and it's also a death sentence to anybody on the other side of the floor.

Rytas Vilnius were putting up a fight, but had to settle for an 89-74 defeat in the end. Lenovo Tenerife were +28 with Huertas on the floor, +26 with Salin, but also +18 with Elgin Cook, who is fitting in nicely.

Tim Abromaitis looked like he never left in his first game back with three threes, Jaime Fernandez had 8 points in just 12 minutes of work, and Tenerife shot 30-of-56 from the floor, with just 10 turnovers committed.

Usually teams relax after winning the championship. Coach Txus Vidorreta not only avoided that, but now has a team that dominates the BCL and is currently topping the standings in the Liga Endesa, too. Sky is the limit for the club that has the universe on its jerseys this season.