04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
5 Jalen Riley (PAOK)
to read

Seven takeaways from Wednesday: Nobody does it like Riley, PAOK

MIES (Switzerland) - PAOK mateco made this a perfect Greek week in the Basketball Champions League, picking up a win over Rytas Vilnius to force Game 3. Darussafaka and UCAM Murcia advanced to the Round of 16 on the day.

Here to help you with all the numbers and stories you may have missed are our Seven Takeaways, in line with the theme of the seventh season of the Basketball Champions League.

#1 PAOK love being down by 10

It must be love. That's the song of the day in Thessaloniki, as PAOK mateco erased yet another double digit deficit to defeat Rytas Vilnius 81-78 and book another trip to Lithuania next week. Being down by 10 or more is just a part of the game plan for coach Aris Lykogiannis by now.

The last eight PAOK wins in the BCL were all after they had been down by double figures. They now have 11 such wins in League history, easily being the best comeback club we have ever seen in this competition. It's a matter of pride, and it cannot be just coincidence when it happens 11 times, eight in a row, too.

There were just four lead changes in the 40 minutes of basketball, but they felt big, because both teams led by 15 or more minutes of the game. And it went down to the wire, with the hosts getting the last laugh, thanks to their best player this season, Jalen Riley.

When PAOK needed a big shot for the win, Riley made sure coach Lykogiannis has something to take back home for his wife. A dagger three-pointer, in typical Riley fashion, too.

"Before I say anything about the game I want to dedicate this victory to my wife, because it's her birthday today," coach said.

Well, not sure how it will go down when she realizes that this win actually means he'll just spend one more week away from home, to lead the team in the deciding Game 3 in Vilnius. Potentially, coach Aris could be in for even more travels if PAOK make it to the Round of 16.

Let us know, coach. Tell us if this win was the best or the worst birthday present.

#2 Foster's BCL career-high

Rytas Vilnius will not be happy that their 11-point lead went to waste, and that they have to play another game against PAOK now, instead of resting for a week before the start of the Round of 16. They definitely did not expect this after their blow out win last week - they are one game away from elimination now!

But there is a positive side to this. Playing Game 3 will be an extra game for all of Europe to witness Marcus Foster's incredible season. The MVP of November counted to 31 points in Thessaloniki, meaning he climbed north of 20 points in six of his eight games with Rytas.

How big is that? Well, in the previous 17 games in the BCL, Foster scored 20+ points just five times.

Foster and Rytas Vilnius are a good pairing. Don't be surprised if he gets above 20 next week, too.

#3 Limoges with a 39-point swing

PAOK went from -11 to +12 at one point. That's a lot. But that's also nowhere near what Limoges CSP did in their 82-62 win over MHP RIESEN to tie the score at 1-1 in that Play-In matchup.

The black-and-yellow boys opened up the game with a 15-5 advantage with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter.

Limoges did not panic. Coach Massimo Cancellieri had faith. His players went crazy, again.

From 5-15 from their point of view, the pendulum had a swing to the French side of the scale and never returned back the other way. Instead, it nearly made a full circle, because the score said 67-38 Limoges CSP with two minutes gone in the fourth quarter.

From -10 to +29, Limoges CSP had a 39-point (!) swing in just 25 minutes of work.

"Tonight I could have stayed at home and the result would have been the same. When the players connect like this and are so determined to win, it's just a pleasure to coach," Cancellieri explained afterwards.

He witnessed Nicolas Lang's BCL career-high with 27 points, the most he scored over the last two years in any competition, and now it feels like the momentum is on their side ahead of Game 3, because...

#4 MHP RIESEN's Langsam night

...this was MHP RIESEN's largest BCL defeat in nearly four years! Nico put the Lang in langsam, and this was painfully slow by the Ludwigsburg squad.

Back in February 2019, Nizhny Novgorod destroyed them by 26. Everybody thought those days are over because of last three highly successful seasons by MHP RIESEN, but there's still a lot to do, starting with the deciding win-or-go-home game v Limoges at home next week.

#5 Osmani in fine form

Darussafaka defeated SL Benfica 83-72, earning their place in the Round of 16 Group L. It's time to take those Spanish lessons now, because Dacka will face Surne Bilbao, Lenovo Tenerife and UCAM Murcia over there, hoping to produce a similar kind of upset to last season's when they stunned Hereda San Pablo Burgos.

If they want to do something like that, it would help to have Ercan Osmani in a mood like this. Osmani averaged just 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in his first 19 BCL games, but since he is a Turkish national team player, and since he's capable of winning games at international level, everybody knew he had a run like this in him.

Over his last three games, he had 15 points and 8 rebounds against MHP RIESEN, then 8 points and 8 rebounds in the first matchup with Benfica, and a career night with 20 points and 12 rebounds against Benfica, again.

No wonder coach Selcuk Ernak wants to play with four Turkish players on the court at the same time. Who wouldn't, when they get to pick from Dogus Ozdemiroglu, Ercan Osmani, Can Korkmaz, Hakan Sayili and Canberk Kus...

#6 Come back stronger, Benfica!

With that defeat, SL Benfica's BCL run comes to an end. But it has been a memorable one, and they put Portugal on the basketball map of Europe with some impressive games, winning three road games against Limoges CSP, BAXI Manresa and VEF Riga, all teams with a lot more experience than the Portuguese champs.

But this is what the BCL is all about! These guys stunned Brose Bamberg in the Qualifying Rounds, these guys played without fear of any opponent, and they were one shot away from winning the Regular Season group and advancing to the Round of 16.

All of that on their first try? Impressive. And it definitely feels like this won't be their only dance in this ballroom. First, they have to win the Portuguese League again, then they know what it takes to get into the group stage here.

Not a lot of people knew about ERA Nymburk before they started their successful runs in the BCL. A lot of people know about them now, because of all the success they've had here. Seems like a modus operandi for the Portuguese champs.

And not just them.

#7 Murcia connect four

UCAM Murcia lost their first two games to Pinar Karsiyaka in the BCL. They not only bounced back, but have now connected on four straight wins against the 2021 Finalists after their 96-89 win on Wednesday.

Braian Angola scored 41 last week, they held him to just 7 this week. Errick McCollum did score 21, but needed 18 shots to do so. Angel Delgado had a solid 16-point, 8-rebound performance, but UCAM Murcia were a +5 team when he was on the floor.

It starts on the defensive end, and extends on the offensive part, because they scored 90+ points in back-to-back BCL games for the first time ever. Six players finished in double digits, three of them had five or more assists, and they only missed four free throws in 29 attempts.

Rock solid. Ready for the Spanish battles in Group L now.

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.