Seven Takeaways from Wednesday: Unicaja go from +1 to +22 in the fourth Quarter
MIES (Switzerland) - Unicaja and AEK were in a much closer game than the final score suggests, as The Queen stuck around until the final eight minutes when coach Ibon Navarro switched through gears to pick up a comfy home win.
Elsewhere, JDA Bourgogne Dijon enjoyed another historic performance by David Holston to celebrate a win on the road in Jerusalem, while Telekom Baskets Bonn and Surne Bilbao took care of business at home against a pair of Turkish clubs.
Here to help you out through the madness of a Wednesday night, are our Seven Takeaways.
#1 Unicaja still growing
With no Tim Frazier and Alexander Madsen for AEK, it was clear that they were going to have an uphill battle in Malaga. But they showed a lot of pride, refusing to back off, and forcing Unicaja to hit them with their best shot.
Which is exactly what the team from Malaga did over the last eight minutes.
AEK made it a one-point game early in the fourth quarter. That just made Kendrick Perry, Dario Brizuela and David Kravish mad, storming to a powerful 19-2 run. It felt like a hurricane just watching it, there is nothing you can do when they start pulling up for transition threes, blowing the first line of defense for ferocious dunks, and cleaning up the mess on the offensive boards.
Unicaja won the game 88-66, handing the 2018 champs their second largest BCL defeat ever. Crazy, since it was a one-point game in the fourth quarter...
Perry and Kravish each counted to 22, with Kravish getting his BCL career-high in points. Yankuba Sima just joined the team, and showed exactly what he brings to the table - he dunked his way to 13 points in 14 minutes off the bench, with 5 rebounds also to his name.
We warned you about this version of Unicaja. It's the best team they put together in a long time, expect them to push for both trophies in Spain, and to challenge the rest of the field in the Basketball Champions League, too.
Would you be surprised if they won the Cup? The Endesa? The BCL? Of course not. That's how good this team is.
#2 Solid display from AEK
Even though the final score is harsh, coach Ilias Kantzouris can be proud of the way AEK fought for 32 minutes, especially without two extremely important injured players in Frazier and Madsen.
Akil Mitchell is still on MVP pace with an 18-point, 13-rebound double-double, Isaiah Miles is growing more comfortable in his AEK role with each game, hitting a season-high 14 points, after getting 12 and 13 in his previous two games.
It was a solid effort. But solid doesn't do it in Malaga, not this season.
#3 Dave's world
JDA Bourgogne Dijon defeated Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 84-77 on the road, and the game just served as a background for David Holston to have another one of those "he's one of the BCL GOATs" game.
Holston finished with 20 points, 13 assists and 2 steals. Let me inhale now, and I'll try to explain what does numbers mean.
Dave is now the first player in BCL history with 100 steals.
Dave is now number two in BCL history in assists with 374, overtaking Dusan Djordjevic on the day and trailing only Marcelinho Huertas.
Dave is now fourth in BCL history in points scored with 757. Only Vojtech Hruban (996), Giorgi Shermadini (774) and Miro Bilan (758) have more.
Dave is now up to five games with 15+ points and 10+ assists, joint-high in BCL history with Marcelinho Huertas.
Dave is now the only player in BCL history with at least 700 points, 350 assists and 100 steals.
Dave is a legend, that's all.
#4 Big battle of the bigs
With all the numbers that Holston put up, it took a colossal effort from Gavin Ware in the middle to pick up a win and stun the loud home fans in Israel. Ware did his usual thing, shooting 11-of-13 from the field for 24 points in just 20 minutes of work, and that was the perfect remedy for Zach Hankins on the other end.
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Hankins had 13 points and 10 rebounds, getting his first double-double since he had two of those in his first two BCL games ever, back with ERA Nymburk in October 2019. He also had two blocks, just enough to sneak into sixth place all-time with 47 career blocks in the BCL.
Keep an eye on both Ware and Hankins the rest of the way. Legit Star Lineup First Team contenders, depending on who gets out of the group and into the Quarter-Finals.
|1||JDA Bourgogne Dijon||1||1||0||100||84||77||7||84||77||2|
|3||Hapoel Atsmon Holon||1||0||1||0||110||112||-2||110||112||1|
|4||Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||1||0||1||0||77||84||-7||77||84||1|
#5 Bitter-sweet symphony
Imagine leading from start to finish, protecting your home court, winning sixth BCL game in a row, going 11-1 over the last 12 games in all competitions...and still feeling like something was off.
That's what happened to Telekom Baskets Bonn on Wednesday, in their 74-68 win over Bahcesehir College. The reason for bitterness? It was a 19-point game early in the fourth quarter, and they allowed the Turkish squad a way back to a two-possession defeat.
With all the tiebreakers and three-way and four-way ties as possibilities, not finishing the job off the right way could come back to haunt Bonn. TJ Shorts had 12 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals to lead the way once more, Yigit Arslan and Jaka Blazic combined for 33 points off the bench for Bahcesehir College.
|2||Telekom Baskets Bonn||1||1||0||100||74||68||6||74||68||2|
#6 Flirting with 50-40-90 as a team
The best shooters in the history of this game are struggling to get a 50-40-90 shooting season. That's 50 percent or better from the field, 40 or better from three-point range and 90 or better from the charity stripe. For a day, Surne Bilbao nearly got the 50-40-90 mark as a team.
Jaume Ponsarnau's men defeated Darussafaka 85-75 in Bilbao, hitting 24-of-46 percent from the field, which is 52.2 percent. They knocked down 10-of-24 from beyond the arc, that's 41.7 percent. They hit 27-of-31 free throws, falling just short of 90 percent at 87.1.
We're used to Bilbao having rock solid defense, but their offensive output is underestimated, for sure. Five players got to double digits, two more had 8 points, and Nikola Radicevic had 6 without attempting a single shot from the field.
Tough from Bilbao. Now it's time for back-to-back Spanish encounters with UCAM Murcia and Lenovo Tenerife before hitting the February break.
#7 Osmani taking over
When you're playing the BCL, the important thing is to have the balance between the international stars and the homegrown players on your roster. For Darussafaka, the scale is tilting towards the homegrown players, thanks to the confidence they receive from coach Selcuk Ernak.
We saw Can Korkmaz as their leader, we saw Dogus Ozdemiroglu as their leader, and now we're witnessing the growth of Ercan Osmani. The big guy put up 19 points off the bench in Bilbao, fresh off of a 20-point performance in the Play-Ins.
How big of a deal is it? Well, Ercan scored more than 12 only once in his previous 21 BCL appearances, then went crazy over the last two games.
No wonder coach Ernak wants to play with four Turkish players on the floor at the same time. But in a group like this, Darussafaka are going to have to dig deep to pull off an upset and eliminate two Spanish teams.