17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
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Group F preview: The defending champs against newcomers from Turkey and Spain

MIES (Switzerland) - The Basketball Champions League Season 8 tips off next week. A total of 32 teams will fight for glory, with Telekom Baskets Bonn coming back as the defending champions.

We are previewing all the Regular Season action, group by group. Here it's the turn of Group F, which includes Bursaspor Info Yatirim, Hapoel Holon, Rio Breogan and Telekom Baskets Bonn.

The favorite

There has been a complete revamp of the defending champions' roster, but Telekom Baskets Bonn are still one of the hot favorites in this competition, because the front office did a fabulous job over the summer.

The new coach in town is Roel Moors, BCL's Coach of the Year back in 2019, and he came within a second of winning his first major trophy with Bonn last month as they lost the FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2023 Final in Singapore to Brazil's Sesi Franca on a buzzer-beater.

The roster revolves around another lefty point guard, but it's not TJ Shorts II. It's the Norwegian Harald Frey, who has been building a name for himself in Germany over the last couple of seasons and is now ready for the next step.

Christian Sengfelder and Ike Udanoh bring in a lot of BCL experience, while Glynn Watson, Noah Kirkwood, Sam Griesel and Brian Fobbs all had solid debuts in Singapore.

There is no player left from the championship-winning squad, but never underestimate the heart of a champion.

The underdog

Bursaspor Info Yatirim are up for their first BCL season, and coach Jure Zdovc saw a lot of changes in the locker room. His team isn't weak, on the contrary, but it's just a matter of facing perennial Quarter-Finals contenders in Bonn and Hapoel Holon, plus the next hot thing from Spain, Rio Breogan.

The fun part about Bursaspor will be their fans. They can paint any arena green, and the home atmosphere could be crucial if the team wants to protect their home floor and have better chances of reaching the Play-In Series or the Round of 16.

The crucial matchup

With Holon entering their seventh BCL campaign, and Bonn up for their fifth, it's going to be really interesting to see what the two newcomers come up with when they face each other already on Gameday 1.

They will play the game in Spain, opening up a big opportunity for Bursaspor to steal one on the road to start their Regular Season, and potentially set themselves up for a sweep on Gameday 5 when they meet in Turkey.

At the same time, Breogan will see that first game as an opportunity to show the continent that Bursa's fans aren't the only loud ones in this group. The entire city of Lugo lives for the basketball team, something we could compare with the two-time BCL champs Burgos and their sensational runs in 2020 and 2021.

Newcomers with a lot of hope and potential, sounds like a firecracker of a matchup in this group.

Players to watch

Bonn's roster has already been discussed, but if one player deserves some extra attention, it's the 2022-23 BNXT League MVP Brian Fobbs. He's 25 years old now, incredibly strong and physical, an ideal backcourt piece in coach Moors' system, capable of shooting, driving and creating for others.

Hapoel Holon brought in Ahmad Caver, straight after his 17 points, 5 assists per game season in Lithuania, hoping he can fill the shoes of Joe Ragland who left the club after two incredible seasons. Drew Crawford makes his return to BCL after playing for Ludwigsburg in Season 1 and Gaziantep in Season 4.

Bursaspor can get a lot of scoring from Jordan Floyd, while Johnny Hamilton takes care of the inside, being a constant double-double threat no matter what team he is on. He averaged two or more blocks in each of his last two seasons, maybe he takes his shot blocking talents to new BCL heights.

As for Breogan, their depth will be their most fascinating feature. Over their first four Liga Endesa games of the season, Juan Fernandez, Matas Jogela, Sergi Garcia, Momo Diouf, Sergi Quintela, Stefan Momirov and Matej Rudan all averaged between 6.5 and 11.5 points.

Format reminder

The group winner will move automatically to the Round of 16 Group J, next to the winner of Group B (BK Opava, JDA Bourgogne Dijon, Promitheas Patras, Rytas Vilnius), and two other Play-In Series winners.

The second- and third-placed teams have to go through the Play-In Series in best-of-three matchups against the second- and third-placed teams from Group E (EWE Baskets Oldenburg, Filou Oostende, Pinar Karsiyaka, SIG Strasbourg).

The bottom placed team will be eliminated from competition, ending their European campaign in December.