04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
0 Tj Shorts Ii (BONN)
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Seven takeaways from Wednesday: King Shorts with another MVP performance, Bonn to R16

MIES (Swtizerland) - Another four games, another two teams to the Round of 16. AEK's win over UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia pushed Telekom Baskets Bonn straight through to the Round of 16, while SIG Strasbourg dethroned UCAM Murcia.

Here to help you out through another busy day are our Seven Takeaways.

#1 Shorts to Round of 16

Every time we think we have a close combat for the MVP of the season, with Joe Ragland breaking records, Matt Mitchell going crazy, Errick McCollum's strong start, Marcus Foster's heroics in Vilnius - every time that happens, TJ Shorts comes back at all of us and says, "yeah, I got this."

For the FIFTH straight time, he scored 25 points or more in the BCL. For context, he did it in his first five games in this competition, while no other player got more than three consecutive 25+ games in the previous six seasons of this competition.

Pinar Karsiyaka felt like they locked him down through the first three quarters, and when they made it back to -10 in the fourth, they probably thought the game was up for grabs again. They were wrong.

Shorts knocked down big shot after big shot, including back-to-back three-pointers - and remember, that was supposed to be his weakness - to seal the deal in the final two minutes, sending Telekom Baskets Bonn to an 89-80 win in Turkey.

"The last five minutes of the game we wanted to ice the game, slow it down," Bonn coach Tuomas Iisalo said afterwards.

"Unfortunately it didn't work, and Karsiyaka got back and got the fans involved. But it's great to have a guy like TJ Shorts on our team, a guy who is a closer," he added.

Shorts scored 16 of his 26 points in the final quarter, also dished out 9 assists. He shot 5-of-6 from the field in the fourth quarter and 8-of-13 for the game, and with all these unreal numbers, a stat like 3 steals just seems ordinary compared to everything else he does.

Bonn are top of the league in the easyCredit BBL in Germany. They are top of the group in the BCL, already advancing to the Round of 16, no matter what happens in two weeks' time, on the final Gameday of the Regular Season.

All because of the 25-year-old Timothy Neocartes Shorts II, and his 26.6 points, 7.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game.

#2 Karsiyaka's emotional highs and lows

It's impossible to put a finger on Pinar Karsiyaka's season so far. The fact that their biggest winning run of the season is three games long, the fact that only had one other run of back-to-back wins certainly makes it feel like the jury is still out there.

Coach Ufuk Sarica probably thought that the double overtime win over Anadolu Efes on the road over the weekend was the turning point of the season, but it turned out that 50 minutes of basketball in Istanbul actually killed their chances in this game.

Bonn's coach Iisalo saw it that way, too, saying he demanded maximum energy from all ten of his active players because Karsiyaka were coming off of an emotional high from beating Efes. Now, they had another emotional low, and the schedule isn't getting any easier, either.

Down at 2-3, they have to travel to Athens on the last Gameday to take on AEK. It's not panic time yet, they would be through to the Play-In Series with any win, and even a defeat would do as long as Reggio Emilia don't defeat Bonn.

#3 AEK's best half of the season

The 2018 champs and the 2020 Finalists were in danger of being eliminated this week, and being down by 13 at home against UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia, there were some nervous looks around Athens.

But coach Ilias Kantzouris delivered a feisty halftime team-talk, turning AEK's defense around, and creating a defensive wall that the Italian squad could not get around in the entire second half. The Queen's offense wasn't exactly a mixture of Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns, but hey, when you hold your opponent to three points for the majority of the fourth quarter, even a couple of dunks would do.

In the end, it finished 68-59, meaning AEK won the second half 39-20. It was the first time in THREE YEARS that AEK held their opponent to less than 60 points.

Alex Madsen did his part with 10 points in 20 minutes off the bench - AEK were +13 with him on the floor. Antonis Koniaris provided stability when Tim Frazier went to bench, two points don't sound like a lot, but he was +11 in 14 minutes.

Akil Mitchell with 16 and Kenny Williams with 15 found a way to score, and just like that, AEK are back in contention. They won't win the group, but being 2-3 with a game at home left sounds survivable.

#4 Tiebreakers are important

Get this. UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia are the only team that has defeated Telekom Baskets Bonn in the BCL this season, but unless they complete the sweep over the group winners, they will be eliminated.

That's because Reggio Emilia would drop to 2-4 in case of a loss to Bonn, and would share that record with either AEK or Pinar Karsiyaka. But AEK are 2-0 against them, and KSK are 1-1, but won their game by seven, compared to Reggio Emilia's four-point win.

The man who is supposed to save them is the 2018 title winning coach Dragan Sakota. He'll need some of that AEK magic to save their season now.

# Team P W L % Last 5 For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 BONN Telekom Baskets Bonn 5 4 1 80.0   409 377 32 81.8 75.4 9
2 AEK AEK 5 2 3 40.0   378 376 2 75.6 75.2 7
3 KSK Pinar Karsiyaka 5 2 3 40.0   395 410 -15 79 82 7
4 REG UNAHOTELS Reggio Emilia 5 2 3 40.0   370 389 -19 74 77.8 7
#5 SIG Strasbourg also through

With all the craziness of Group B, the fact that SIG Strasbourg and UCAM Murcia were in a direct battle for Round of 16 almost got lost in traffic. UCAM Murcia had a two-point lead from the first game, but coach Luca Banchi had no doubt SIG would overturn it.

The French squad connected their fifth straight win in all competitions, final score 82-70 more than enough to secure the tiebreaker and finish ahead of UCAM Murcia no matter what happens on the last Gameday.

Packed stands gave DeAndre Lansdowne a standing ovation for his 23-point performance of the bench, but it was Marcus Keene who played his best game of the season, counting to 25 on five made three-pointers.

Those 25 points are a BCL career-high for last season's Italian League top scorer. Five made threes are also important, because he had only five in his first three games combined.

The party went on after the buzzer, it must be good to know that they can beat a rock solid Spanish squad by double digits even when Matt Mitchell was held to just 10 points and had five fouls in the game.

#6 UCAM in danger of losing home court

How much difference a game makes... UCAM Murcia were leading the group heading into this week, but their defeat in Strasbourg paired with Tofas Bursa's win on the road in Hungary means that coach Sito Alonso needs to check his rear-view mirrors for the next 40 minutes.

That's because Tofas are now 2-3, while UCAM are 3-2. They face each other on last Gameday in Turkey, with Murcia holding a three-point lead from the first matchup. Meaning, UCAM lose by three or more, they don't get home court advantage in the Play-In Series.

The reason for that is the unexpected defeat that Murcia suffered to Falco Vulcano Szombathely in Hungary. Had they won the game in Hungary, UCAM Murcia would've been fine now, still in the hunt for first place, even after their defeat in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

But this is the whole point of this competition format. No slip ups. Every game matters. Every point matters.

# Team P W L % Last 5 For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 SIG SIG Strasbourg * 5 4 1 80.0   414 392 22 82.8 78.4 9
2 UCAM UCAM Murcia 5 3 2 60.0   400 410 -10 80 82 8
3 TOF Tofas Bursa 5 2 3 40.0   403 375 28 80.6 75 7
4 SZOM Falco Vulcano Szombathely 5 1 4 20.0   383 423 -40 76.6 84.6 6
* Qualified for Round of 16
#7 Goodbye to Falco

A 77-64 defeat to Tofas Bursa meant we parted ways with the Hungarian champions. Falco Vulcano Szombathely could not repeat their magic from the last two seasons, and here is why this is painful:

They lost the first game to Strasbourg as Zoltan Perl's three-pointer to force overtime bounced off the backboard and the rim, and out.

They lost their game to UCAM Murcia in the closing minutes when an 18-year-old who previously hadn't scored in the BCL or the Liga Endesa went crazy and got nine points in the final two minutes.

Falco were a couple of strong minutes away from being 3-2 ahead of their last game. Instead, they won one, lost four, and have no chance of catching Tofas even if they both finish at 2-4. Nothing else to do but learn from this experience, and come back stronger next season.

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.