04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
3 Tyson Ward (BONN)
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Seven takeaways from Wednesday: Bonn at 3-0, Holon at 0-3

MIES (Switzerland) - The last two games of the week were played in Lithuania and France. Both of those included a big comeback by the home team, but only JDA Bourgogne Dijon managed to hold on to their lead and win the game, while Rytas Vilnius fell at the end of their game.

Here are all the punchlines from a two-game Wednesday in the Basketball Champions League. Three games were postponed this week, the ones between Darussafaka Lassa and UCAM Murcia, Bahcesehir College  and BAXI Manresa, Unicaja and Galatasaray Nef due to the devastating earthquakes in Turkey.

#1 Road Warriors

Telekom Baskets Bonn were a regular in the early days of the BCL. They were solid, they were good, but in order to get somewhere far in the competition, you need to win road games regularly. Their record in their first 19 road games in the BCL: 5-14.

With coach Tuomas Iisalo joining the club, and TJ Shorts coming in as the big signing over the summer, it was clear that Telekom Baskets Bonn wanted more this season. They won their Regular Season group, they are comfortably second in the easyCredit BBL in Germany, and they are ready for that aforementioned "more."

They'll get there by beating everybody on the road. It finished 86-79 in Lithuania, holding off a Rytas Vilnius comeback and pushing Bonn all the way up to 3-0 at the top of Group J. Their road record this season: 5-0.

Yep. They needed just five games to as many road games as in their previous 19.

Road warriors are one step closer to their first Quarter-Finals in BCL history.

#2 Ward has arrived

TJ Shorts was back to his best in Vilnius, getting his first double-double in the BCL with 13 points and 12 assists. He had that superb start to the season with five games of 25+ points, but then he had a total of 29 points over the next three. This double-double could be a sign of that early season form coming back.

But even though he's struggling, Bonn are winning games easily. That's because Tyson Ward has arrived, following up his 19-point game against BAXI Manresa with a 17-point performance against Rytas Vilnius.

He only had 5.8 points per game during the Regular Season, but that was clearly not the real picture. Those who follow the German League will point the finger to his 29 points against the Fraport Skyliners in late December, and he's averaging 10.7 per game over there.

That's Bonn for you. One day it's Shorts, the other Ward, then you'll have Karsten Tadda getting 14 points, or Collin Malcolm, Leon Kratzer and Finn Delany combining for 27. Bonn are deep. Bonn are tough. Bonn are one of two 3-0 teams in the Round of 16, with the other one being the defending champs.

Not much more to add to that.

#3 Free throws are important

Rytas Vilnius were down by 22, then came back to take the lead, being up 78-77 with two minutes to play, then ran out of gas and lost the game in the closing 30 seconds. In a game with fine margins, you can get away with a lot of things, but missed free throws always come back to haunt you.

Rytas shot just 11-of-19 from the charity stripe. Of all the Round of 16 teams, only Hapoel Atsmon Holon, UCAM Murcia and JDA Bourgogne Dijon came into this week with a higher percentage than Rytas' 77.6 from the free throw line, so eight missed free throws are a major surprise.

That surprise now pushed them to 1-2, making the Quarter-Finals quest an uphill battle because they have two road games coming up after the break.

#4 C in BCL is for comebacks

JDA Bourgogne Dijon were without David Holston. Gavin Ware played just 14 minutes, and Robin Ducote got injured in less than four minutes of action. That's three starters right there, and the rest of the crew faced a gigantic hole at -14.

But the BCL this season is all about comebacks, so there was absolutely no way coach Nenad Markovic would allow his second unit to quit. Instead, he pushed them to deliver their best games of the season, led by David Brembly's 22 points, a BCL career-high by some distance.

One thing led to another, all of a sudden people were out of their seats when Jacques Alingue started blocking shots, and Markis McDuffie continued with his theme of the season of trying to dunk everything from the painted area - oh, he was successful too.

Dijon put up 33 points in the fourth, tying their best fourth quarter in BCL history as they also had 33 against Besiktas back in 2019. Hapoel Atsmon Holon were stunned, trying to figure out what was going on in the last five minutes. Instead of winning the game or keeping it close, they lost it 89-81.

No Holston, no Ware, no Ducote - no problem! JDA Bourgogne Dijon are up to 2-1 in the BCL, and 13-7 in the French League, meaning they are heading into the break feeling really good.

#5 Unsung hero Hrovat

Gregor Hrovat is amazing. In a world that loves Slovenian all-rounders, he doesn't get enough credit for everything he does on the court, and the ironic part is that we're giving him his flowers on a day when he shot 0-of-5 from the field.

But he also made all six of his free throws, and had 4 steals on the day, reaching that mark for the third time in his BCL career. Steals are his thing, he's already up to 71, entering the Top 10 all-time in this competition.

Keep an eye on Gregor. Remember he had 18 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals against Peristeri this season, we're putting him into triple-double watch or even a 4x4 club with at least four points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Slovenes do it all the time, all over the world.

#6 What's wrong with Holon?

Lost a 14-point lead against Dijon. Missed a wide open three-pointer for the win against Jerusalem. Blew an 11-point lead in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter in Strasbourg.

Instead of being 3-0 and thinking about the home court advantage in the Quarter-Finals, Holon are down to 0-3 and look like Joe Frazier in the 14th round of the Thrilla in Manila. Just don't throw the towel in yet, you've got three more rounds to get to 3-3 and hope for the best.

# Team P W L % Last 5 For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 SIG SIG Strasbourg 3 2 1 66.7   277 263 14 92.3 87.7 5
2 JDA JDA Bourgogne Dijon 3 2 1 66.7   245 243 2 81.7 81 5
3 JLM Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 3 2 1 66.7   223 227 -4 74.3 75.7 5
4 HOLO Hapoel Atsmon Holon 3 0 3 0   254 266 -12 84.7 88.7 3
#7 That's it, we're like Ross and Rachel

There will be plenty of good basketball in February, with the FIBA Intercontinental Cup coming up over the weekend, the national cups, and the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Qualifiers. But as for the Basketball Champions League, for the next month we are going to be just like Ross and Rachel from that TV show:

On a break.

See you soon!

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.