17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
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Eight moments to look back at in Season 8

MIES (Switzerland) - Season 8 of the Basketball Champions League ended with Unicaja's first ever triumph in this competition. That was just one of the many memorable moments from the Infinity Season.

We narrowed it down to these eight performances, to remind you of the best individual and team efforts of the 2023-24 campaign in the BCL.


The one when Unicaja sent a message

After that heartbreak finish to Season 7 of the BCL in Malaga, there were some doubts as to how Unicaja would respond the following year. Well, the doubts were blown out of the way already on Gameday 3 of the Regular Season.

Unicaja hosted Peristeri bwin - a team which would later reach the Final Four - back in November, and produced a trailer of coming attractions as they defeated the Greek side 81-64. The final score doesn't do justice to how scary Unicaja looked at that junction. 

Coach Ibon Navarro saw his team dish out an incredible 24 assists on 25 made field goals. It wasn't their top passing game of the season, as they had 27 assists against Cholet Basket and 26 against Falco Vulcano Szombathely.

But the ease with which they did it, so early in the season, was a clear indication Unicaja could (and would) go all the way in 2024.

The one when Joe Ragland took over

Coach Vassilis Spanoulis knew he had a special weapon in Joe Ragland this season. However, the lefty point guard had his early season struggles, falling short of the 20-point mark throughout the six games of the Regular Season, and posting only two games with 10+ assists in that span.

It turns out Ragland just needed the threat of elimination hanging over his team. Because in the Play-In series against Rytas Vilnius, the veteran not only showed up, but also made sure to enter the BCL history books.

Ragland bookmarked the first 25-point, 15-assist game in this competition, and pulled it off on the road for Peristeri to steal home court advantage from Rytas Vilnius,. It was clearly the start of a new chapter, which culminated with him  earning a spot in the Star Lineup First Team and finishing in the top-3  for the MVP of the Season award.

"I like the way Ragland connects with the big guys, with all his teammates. He is a true point guard and you can see how he controls [the game] with calm, with patience, he was truly the leader in this series," Rytas coach Zibenas said by way of praise for the 34-year-old .

Nothing sweeter than getting the opposing coach to say stuff like that after you have eliminated his team.

The one when Marcelinho Huertas turned into a scorer

For the first 18 years of his career, Marcelinho Huertas had just a single +30-point game. Over the last two seasons though, he started getting into 30+ territory on a regular basis, and even had a 43-point outburst in the Liga Endesa in 2023.

Over his first 76 appearances in the BCL, Marcelinho never scored more than 24 points in a game,.

But he then went  nuts in back-to-back games, scoring 31 points against Peristeri bwin in the Round of 16 and 30 against Tofas Bursa in Game 1 of the Quarter-Finals.

We all know how his season ended, right?

An absolutely incredible scoring twist in a career of one of the finest pass-first guards of all time and on the brink of his 41st birthday, no less.

The one when Mindaugas Kuzminskas counted to 40

In a similar vein to Marcelinho not looking to be a scorer-first player during the first 18 years of his career, Mindaugas Kuzminskas also chose this BCL season to showcase his overlooked scoring prowess.

With 40 points and 11 rebounds against Hapoel Holon on March 5, the Lithuanian forward  became only the sixth player to reach 40 points in a single BCL game, and the first one ever to register a 40-point double-double.

The one when AEK and Holon didn't want to leave

That very same Round of 16 game was special in another way.

The March 5 encounter became the first triple-overtime game in the last seven years of the BCL, and the third one overall.

Holon emerged victorious after two and a half hours of intense battle, winning the game 112-108 and eliminating AEK BETSSON BC from Quarter-Finals contention.

The one when Vernon Carey Jr announced his arrival

Getting an explosive big guy these days is extremely tough. Getting one who is also very young, sounds next to impossible, but Pinar Karsiyaka's front office did exactly that last summer.

Vernon Carey Jr blew the doors down in his first month in international basketball, becoming the youngest BCL MVP of the Month ever at 22 years of age back in October.

Sadly, Carey Jr's season came to an abrupt end with a tough injury. Hopefully he recovers in time to start the 2024-25 season, and maybe we're lucky enough to witness his performances in the BCL once again.

The one when UCAM Murcia lost

Sure, we now know UCAM Murcia would go on to have their best Liga Endesa campaign and repeat their 2018 finish in the BCL by climbing onto the third step of the podium in Belgrade.

But the moment everyone should remember is that Murcia lost their first game of the season to Bertram Derthona Tortona. That 78-74 defeat could've pointed their campaign to the opposite direction, especially because they were up by double digits and the Italians had a late comeback to win the game.

But coach Sito Alonso actually created a monster from that point on, leading Murcia to their BCL-best run of eight straight wins, including winnning the tiebreaker over Tortona to earn a direct berth in the Round of 16 and avoid the Play-In drama.

One simple defeat turned into a major season win for the Spaniards.

The one when they were all tied

Telekom Baskets Bonn won the BCL in 2023, and changed their entire roster in the offseason.

Bursaspor Info Yatirim, Hapoel Holon and Rio Breogan all saw their chances to upset the title holders early on in the season, and the prospect of the defending champs getting eliminated in  the Regular Season seemed plausible, to say the least.

Luck favors the brave though, as the saying goes, and what Bonn did last summer definitely showed bravery.

Perhaps that is why, in a bizarre four-way tie at 3-3 in Group F, it was Bonn who had the best points difference, not only avoiding elimination, but also winning the group and advancing straight to the Round of 16, with the lowest record of all group winners.

# Team P W L % For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 BONN Telekom Baskets Bonn (1) 6 3 3 50.0 497 473 24 82.8 78.8 9
2 HOLO Hapoel Holon (2) 6 3 3 50.0 463 456 7 77.2 76 9
3 BREO Rio Breogan (2) 6 3 3 50.0 462 459 3 77 76.5 9
4 BURS Bursaspor Info Yatirim 6 3 3 50.0 439 473 -34 73.2 78.8 9

Meanwhile, Bursaspor got eliminated with three wins, another first occurrence in BCL history under the current format.

Another reminder of how crazy close this whole season was.