17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
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Burning questions: Can the defending champions stop Ragland, Peristeri?

MIES (Switzerland) - The Basketball Champions League Season 8 Quarter-Finals tip off on Wednesday. The defending champions, Telekom Baskets Bonn, enjoy homecourt advantage in a best-of-three duel with Peristeri bwin.

After winning the BCL title last season, Bonn went through numerous changes over the summer but have returned as impressive as ever, with coach Roel Moors's team winning both their Regular Season and Round of 16 groups.

Their next opponent is arguably the hottest team in the BCL right now. Under coach Vassilis Spanoulis, Peristeri strung together three straight wins in the Round of 16 and eliminated two juggernauts in Pinar Karsiyaka and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, while Joe Ragland received the MVP of the Month award for March.

How did they get here?

Bonn have an 8-4 record in the BCL this season, winning their Regular Season group in a crazy four-way tie at 3-3, then powering through the Round of 16 with a 5-1 record.

It was the second best mark of the entire Round of 16 field, trailing only Unicaja's perfect 6-0. Bonn entered the Quarter-Finals draw as the only non-Spanish group winner, edging out MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg in Group J.

Peristeri had a slow start to the Regular Season, but still advanced at 3-3, as the third-placed team in Group A, behind Unicaja and Le Mans Sarthe Basket. Not owning homecourt advantage in the Play-Ins did not bother the Greek side, as they swept Rytas Vilnius in two games to reach the Round of 16.

They got off to an 0-3 start to that phase, but with Spanoulis and Ragland running the show, three straight wins put Peristeri among the elite eight in Season 8. They reached the Quarter-Finals on an 8-6 overall record, with wins over both Unicaja and Lenovo Tenerife during this campaign.

What are their biggest strengths?

At 103.8 points per 100 possessions, Bonn have the third best defensive rating of the BCL. Unicaja and UCAM Murcia who are in the top two spots this season both allow fewer than 100 points per 100 possessions, while Bonn reached this phase with a better defensive rating than two defensive powerhouses, in Jerusalem and Ludwigsburg.

As for Bonn's offensive gameplan? The reigning champs will look to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them by Peristeri. The Greek team commits the most fouls (25.4 per game) in this season's BCL, and send opponents to 19.9 trips to the free-throw line on average.

However, Bonn aren't exactly the best free-throw shooting team in the BCL. They've made 15 or more free-throws only twice in their 12 BCL games this season.

Peristeri will test Bonn's defense beyond the arc., because they are the hottest three-point shooting team among the eight Quarter-Finalists, knocking down 39.3 percent of their shots from deep. They score 112.5 points per 100 possessions, which makes them a top-10 offensive team this BCL season.

Who's feeling it?

Thomas Kennedy has been Bonn's go-to guy for the past six BCL games, scoring 10 or more points in each one. It sounds even more impressive when you consider he only had a total of 12 points over his first three BCL games this season combined.

Meanwhile, nobody in the BCL is as hot as Ragland right now. The Peristeri point guard has already posted seven double-doubles this season, and needs one more to become the first ever player with eight double-doubles in a single BCL campaign.

Ragland already has the all-time lead in double-doubles with 16, six clear of everybody else in BCL history. His March MVP award was his fourth MVP of the Month accolade, while no other player has more than two such awards.

Have they met before?

This will be the first time Bonn and Peristeri face each other. Bonn are back to the Quarter-Finals for the second year running, while Peristeri have reached this face for the first time ever.

When and where?

Game 1 of this best-of-three series tips off at 19:00 CET on Wednesday. Bonn will host the first matchup in their Telekom Dome in Germany.

Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10. Andreas Papandreou Indoor Peristeri arena will see both teams at 18:30 CET in Greece, while a potential Game 3 would see the series move back to Germany at 20:00 CET on Tuesday, April 16.