17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
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BCL players to watch in the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers

MIES (Switzerland) - Season 8 of the Basketball Champions League is on hold, allowing the players to put on their national team jerseys and embark on a quest to qualify for their respective FIBA Continental Cups.

Naturally, most of the BCL players are European. The FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers are tipping off on Thursday, and as a former winner and the hero of the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 Final, Klemen Prepelic will be one of the players to watch for Slovenia.

Prepelic made a mid-season move to Galatasaray EKMAS in the BCL, and has been nothing short of sensational for the Turkish juggernauts, averaging 14.6 points and 6.4 assists per game.

The sharp-shooting guard was a national hero for Slovenia in 2017, contributing 21 points in the Final against Serbia, including a number of clutch shots down the stretch.

Been there, done that: Klemen Prepelic with the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 trophy

Slovenia will have another BCL wing next to Prepelic, as JDA Bourgogne Dijon's Gregor Hrovat is also on their preliminary squad. Meanwhile, Prepelic is not the only Galatasaray star expected to shine in February.

That's because Sadik Emir Kabaca is emerging as one of the leaders for a new-look Turkiye team. He is still just a 23-year-old, but already so experienced in international basketball, providing consistency for Galatasaray all season long, averaging 9.5 points and an efficiency rating of 10.2 in 23 minutes per game in the BCL.

Kabaca and Turkiye have a tough draw ahead of them, not just because they have to travel to Pesaro to face Italy, but also because they are playing against Iceland at Sinan Erdem Arena - this means that Elvar Fridriksson will be back to his favorite location.

It was in that arena, on October 18, that the Icelandic point guard notched just the third triple-double in BCL history, counting to 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for PAOK mateco against Galatasaray EKMAS in the Regular Season.

Fridriksson and Iceland could be the dark horses of the Qualifiers, especially if Elvar puts up his usual all-round displays. But, he will also face another familiar BCL foe in that group, as Hungary make the trip to the Nordic island.

Zoltan Perl was the leader of Falco Vulcano Szombathely in the BCL Regular Season, playing the best basketball of his career with 18.5 points, 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. Incredibly, he came off the bench in every game, in a unique kind of role in modern-day basketball. The sixth man, but also the man for both Hungary and Szombathely.

Latvia were the talk of the town at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. As co-hosts of FIBA EuroBasket 2025 they are already through to the Final Round, meaning the pressure to qualify is off their shoulders. The pressure to win and improve in the FIBA World Rankings is very much on, though.

Rodions Kurucs and Arturs Kurucs are back as teammates again, trying to transfer their winning run from UCAM Murcia to the national team.

Rodions is the more experienced brother, but even he is just 26 years old, with a whole decade of basketball in front of him. Expect him to keep up his high production rate during the Qualifiers - he is averaging an efficiency rating of 10 in fewer than 19 minutes per game for Murcia.

Germany arrive to the FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers as the hottest of all favorites, having won the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in Manila, Philippines. Christian Sengfelder is back on the roster of the world champions, as recognition of his recent run with Telekom Baskets Bonn.

After scoring just 13 points total in the first three games of the BCL season, Sengfelder is now up to 11.1 points per game over the last six, leading the defending BCL champions to a 3-0 start to the Round of 16.

It will not be easy for Sengfelder, because he is up against Kendrick Perry and Montenegro to start the run. Perry is a big factor in the BCL MVP Race for Unicaja, with 10.8 points, 4.8 assists and 14 efficiency rating in Season 8.

Rytas Vilnius dropped out of the BCL in the Play-Ins, but don't forget about Margiris Normantas' season as he puts on the green Lietuva jersey. He had a run of four straight games of at least 16 points and 4 assists, and he would've been in the MVP talk if Rytas had made it through.

Lenovo Tenerife's stars are also in action. Sasu Salin looks to regain his shooting touch for Finland, Giorgi Shermadini is always essential for Georgia, fellow big man Dusan Ristic returns to the Serbian national team, while Jaime Fernandez makes his way on Spain's roster, next to Unicaja captain Alberto Diaz.

Honorable mentions include the mix of experience and youth for Belgium in Pierre-Antoine Gillet and Joppe Mennes, while Retin Obasohan and Hans Vanwijn add more BCL flavor.

Meanwhile the BCL all-time leading scorer, Vojtech Hruban, is back with Czechia and Paul Lacombe will play for the next Olympic Games hosts, France. Their Basketball Champions League experience should help them in February, getting that first step towards the big goal and the continental event in 2025.