04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
21 Bouba Toure (TOF)
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Seven takeaways from Wednesday: MVP potentials in Hungary, Germany, more drama in France

MIES (Switzerland) - Wednesday's program saw four games, with Telekom Baskets Bonn, SIG Strasbourg, AEK and Falco Vulcano Szombathely earning their wins. Here to help you out with all proceedings are our usual seven takeaways.

In case you missed the previous editions, the idea is to wrap up day's action with seven facts. Seven, because we are now in Season Seven, and because seven is considered as "being finished," or "complete" in its meaning.

#1 Shades of Tyrese Rice

A lefty point guard, making life difficult for everybody else with his change of pace, reads, shots, assists and even rebounds? All done while carrying a German team in the Basketball Champions League? Yeah, the comparison is there, for sure.

In what seemed like a true Tyrese Rice game, TJ Shorts had 28 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and only turned the ball once in 35 minutes, powering Telekom Baskets Bonn to an 83-71 win over Pinar Karsiyaka. Shorts became the first player in BCL history to get 25+ points and 5+ assists in consecutive games.

We all knew what Shorts was capable of, he was leading the German League in points per game while with Crailsheim Merlins last season. But his three-point shooting wasn't his strong side, which is why teams are tempted to go under the screens when playing against him. One problem, though.

TJ Shorts is shooting 5-of-7 from deep in the German League after his first two games with Bonn. TJ Shorts is also shooting 4-of-6 from deep in the BCL after his first two games with Bonn. A combined 9-of-13 across four games is a warning sign for those who insist on gambling with his shots, and try to prevent him from getting to the midrange or the paint.

"They allowed TJ Shorts some practice shots from the three-point line (in the first half). He will keep making those," coach Tuomas Iisalo said during the halftime interview, not the least bit surprised with Shorts' hot shooting.

"I decided to guard him, and we decided to be a little bit more aggressive with the hedging, and I think it took away some of his aggressiveness. Just be aggressive with him, make somebody else make the play because we know they lack creators," Pinar Karsiyaka's Errick McCollum explained the plan, but by the time they adapted, the game was over.

Shorts had all the right reads in all the pick and roll situations, and his speed allowed Bonn to play the uptempo, downhill basketball that they love. It's the kind that got them to 1-1 in the BCL with this win, and the kind that got them the first place in the Bundesliga currently.

And it got us the first clear contender for the MVP award, just two games into the season.

#2 BCL Career-high for Zoltan Perl

Speaking of MVP candidates, it's time to talk about Zoltan Perl again. The pearl of Hungarian basketball. The man from Szombathely is playing his best basketball for his hometown club, and he got a standing ovation for his BCL career-high against UCAM Murcia.

Perl finished with 29 points in 31 minutes off the bench, while not getting a single three-pointer to drop. He doesn't need those, he eats in the midrange and around the rim, somehow being fast enough and stretchy enough to get around his defenders and find layup after layup.

UCAM Murcia tried switching everything, but it turned out they were just leaving their big guys all alone on Perl island. Perl kept hitting them with his drives to the right, and they kept falling, allowing him not only to set his personal high, but to guide Falco Vulcano Szombathely to a record, too.

The Hungarian champs defeated UCAM Murcia 104-94. That's the most they scored in a single BCL game, and they've been around for 34 of those. They are now up to 1-1, and could've easily been at 2-0 because they missed a shot at the buzzer last week in Strasbourg.

#3 Another OT in Strasbourg

Speaking of close games in Strasbourg, show of hands: Who's surprised SIG Strasbourg and Tofas Bursa went to overtime? Yep, nobody.

SIG Strasbourg won it 94-89 in overtime, thanks to unlikely three-point heroes. Both Jean-Baptiste Maille and Stan Okoye made their only shots from deep in the extra five minutes, both of them being daggers to Tofas' hopes of stealing one on the road.

We told you last week to expect close games with coach Lassi Tuovi and Strasbourg, it's just their DNA at this point. They have now played nine overtime games in BCL history. They won seven of those nine. No other team PLAYED more than six overtime games.

Bonus note: Leo Cavaliere also had a BCL career-high with 15 points. He added 10 rebounds to the mix, getting his first BCL double-double in what was his 44th game in the competition.

#4 AEK finally win on the road

Back on January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was swarn in as the 46th President of the United States. Manchester United defeated Fulham 2-1 with goals from Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba to go top of the Premier League. James Harden was just traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

And AEK won their last road game in the BCL.

Almost 21 months passed since that 95-90 win against Tsmoki-Minsk in Belarus, and AEK finally ended their road slump, getting an 84-73 win over UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia in Italy.

They did it with a lot of style, crazy passes, high-flying dunks, 11-of-22 from beyond the arc, looking like the mighty AEK of 2018 or 2020. Coach Ilias Kantzouris has to love the offensive output: 20 assists, four players in double digits, five players with 3 or more assists, Alexander Madsen with 17 points and 7 boards off the bench, Tim Frazier with a bit of everything - 10 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds.

Up at 1-1 now, AEK aren't about to let the disappointment of last season, when they were eliminated in group stage, happen once again.

#5 Cinciarini's hot start

Staying in Italy. UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia are probably disappointed they lost at home, but the fans are loving what Andrea Cinciarini is bringing to the team, even at 36 years old.

He had 16 points and 11 assists, after he had 10 and 10 in those categories in Bonn last week. Cinciarini became only the seventh player to have consecutive points-assists double-doubles, and he needed only two games to pick them up.

Just another reason why he is considered a legend in Reggio Emilia. He was there when they won the FIBA EuroChallenge in 2014, and he was selected MVP of the Final Four then. Eight and a half years later, he still looks like the same player.

If not better...

#6 UCAM Murcia ice cold

A team that has Travis Trice, Jordan Davis, Ryan Luther, Thad McFadden, David Jelinek and Sadiel Rojas shouldn't be concerned with three-point shooting, right? Wrong.

UCAM Murcia are ice cold to start the season, combining for 11-of-52 from three-point range in their first two BCL games, and 30-of-86 in their first three Liga Endesa games.

Maybe that brought in a part of frustration for coach Sito Alonso, who was ejected after kicking the LED board in front of the bench, as a reaction to another wide open Zoltan Perl layup. He got a technical first, then tried protesting that call and was sent to the locker room with five minutes left in the game.

Not an ideal start for UCAM Murcia. Maybe things change once Niels Giffey makes his debut.

#7 Free throws are important

UCAM Murcia missed ten free throws, lost by 10. Tofas Bursa missed five free throws, lost by five. Pinar Karsiyaka were only 13-of-22 from the line in their 12-point defeat to Bonn. UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia only had nine made free throws compared to AEK's 21.

So kids, next time you roll your eyes when coaches make you take 10 or 50 or 100 more free throws, just remember that Murcia could've been 2-0, Tofas could've been 2-0, should've been 1-1, Karsiyaka could've been 2-0, Reggio Emilia could've been 2-0 if they just made their charity stripe shots.

We tend to complicate and find deeper meaning, but sometimes basketball comes down to the most basic of all plays.