17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
15 Emmanuel Nzekwesi (CHO)
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BCL Fantasy tips: Cholet Basket's unsung hero

MIES (Switzerland) - Craig Randall II stole the show for a while. Gerald Ayayi and Tidjane Salaun are the young guns everybody is talking about.

Vojtech Hruban is still the all-time leading scorer in the Basketball Champions League, while Neal Sako and T.J. Campbell formed a much-needed inside-outside connection for coach Laurent Vila.

But now it's time to talk about Cholet Basket's in-form big guy, Emmanuel Nzekwesi.

Born in the Hague 26 years ago, the Dutch power forward moved to the United States in high school, and wore the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles' jersey from 2016 to 2020.

A double-double machine, Nzekwesi decided to go back home and his first season as a pro already saw him dominating in Europe.

He won the Dutch Basketball League with ZZ Leiden, while also being named the Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Statistical Player of the Year and scoring champion.

Oh, he was also picked for the All-Star Team, All-Rookie Team, All-Defense Team, and the BNXT League Dream Team.

A year later, in 2021, he was close to adding the BNXT League Most Valuable Player award to his impressive CV , but he came in second, just behind Levi Randolph.

When you have a guy with such a resumè on your roster, it is only a matter of time until he starts putting up crazy numbers in the French stint of his career.

A year in ESSM Le Portel prepared Nzekwesi for a move to Cholet at the start of this season, and the start of this season prepared him to be the man of the hour in February and March.

Nzekwesi got off to a slow start, reaching double digits in three of his first eight BCL games, even pairing up two games with no points scored. But in Game 3 of the Play-Ins, a switch was flipped. 

The 26-year-old started a run of five straight games with 10 or more points in the BCL, and his average efficiency in the Round of 16 stands at 16,, helped by a 23-point, 6-rebound game against SIG Strasbourg.

He's up to 14.6 points and 6 rebounds over the last five games, while picking up 5 steals in his last two games with Cholet in the BCL.

There is another fact why you should expect above average numbers from Nzekwesi - or anybody else from Cholet for that matter.

# Team P W L % For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 UNI Unicaja (1) 5 5 0 100 425 352 73 85 70.4 10
2 TOF Tofas Bursa 5 2 3 40.0 397 388 9 79.4 77.6 7
3 CHO Cholet Basket 5 2 3 40.0 404 433 -29 80.8 86.6 7
4 SIG SIG Strasbourg 5 1 4 20.0 392 445 -53 78.4 89 6

They need a win against Unicaja to have a chance of qualifying to the Quarter-Finals, so they'll be fully motivated to bring their A-game, while their opponent has a completely opposite approach to this one.

Unicaja have already secured not just a Quarter-Finals berth, but also homecourt advantage, meaning they can take on Cholet with their foot off the gas pedal.

Nzekwesi is once again looking like that force of nature he was with ZZ Leiden and Belfius Mons-Hainaut. His French League numbers confirm it, he had 22 points and 13 rebounds in a win over JL Bourg-en-Bresse on March 9, Cholet's last domestic game played.