17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
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Group K: Spanoulis, Peristeri take down Tenerife, advance to QFs as Jerusalem fall

MIES (Switzerland) - Peristeri bwin toppled Lenovo Tenerife to reach the Quarter-Finals after Pinar Karsiyaka, who had nothing to play for on the final Group K gameday, prevailed over Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem. 

Heading into the two final games of the group on Tuesday, Jerusalem knew they had chances of winning the group, finishing second, but also of ending their campaign before the Quarter-Finals. At 3-2, they traveled to Laktasi  to take on Karsiyaka.

The fact that Karsiyaka were already out of contention probably relaxed Jerusalem a bit too much, as Ufuk Sarica's men caught them off guard, playing arguably their best basketball of the season to win the game 98-87.

Six Karsiyaka players scored in double figures, led by Errick McCollum's 20-point effort off the bench, while Vernon Carey Jr finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and a block, giving him a team-high efficiency rating of 25.

Jerusalem got 18 points and 11 rebounds from Zach Hankins, but did not look like the team that dominated the first five months of the season. They started the season at 8-1, but three straight defeats in the Round of 16 knocked them out of the competition.

Coach Ilias Kantzouris had one last hope. He turned his attention to his homeland, where Peristeri bwin played host to Lenovo Tenerife, and Jerusalem still could've made the elite eight with a Tenerife win.

But coach Vassilis Spanoulis and Joe Ragland showed no compassion in the closing minutes. Peristeri caught fire over the last month, improving from 0-3 to 3-3 on Tuesday after their 90-82 win over two-time champs Lenovo Tenerife.

The game saw ten lead changes and no team was able to open up a double-digit lead at any point, setting the stage for Ragland to prove once again how clutch he is.

The 34-year-old point guard had an assist for a Leonidas Kaselakis three-pointer, the final lead change of the game with four minutes to play, then followed it up with back-to-back lefty layups, and the dagger assist to the corner, where Kenny Williams knocked down another triple to make it 89-82 inside the final minute, putting the game out of Tenerife's reach.

Ragland had 15 points and 14 assists, extending his lead in BCL career double-doubles, as this was his 16th all-time. Marcelinho Huertas is second on that list with 10, but Peristeri's defense turned him into a scorer on the day, allowing him 31 points, but holding him to 5 assists.

Scoring 31 at 40 years of age and at this level, Huertas's performance impressed Spanoulis so much, the two of them shared a long moment after the final buzzer.

A classy move by Peristeri's playcaller, showing love to the long-time rival before celebrating with the loud Peristeri fans.

"When we were down 0-3, we didn't quit, we practiced hard and we continued to believe. To me, even more important than the qualification is the character we showed. After we lost to Hapoel on the Speedy Smith buzzer-beater we didn't hang our heads down, we practiced even harder and worked even harder. We had in our group three teams that were favorites to go to the Final Four, that have four-five times bigger budget than us, but we looked them in the eye and we played amazing, amazing basketball," Spanoulis said after the game.

# Team P W L % For Agt +/- FA AA  
1 LNTF Lenovo Tenerife (1) 6 4 2 66.7 521 511 10 86.8 85.2 10
2 PERI Peristeri bwin 6 3 3 50.0 473 475 -2 78.8 79.2 9
3 JLM Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 6 3 3 50.0 485 479 6 80.8 79.8 9
4 KSK Pinar Karsiyaka 6 2 4 33.3 514 528 -14 85.7 88 8

Tenerife finished top of the group despite the defeat and it will be their seventh Quarter-Finals appearance in eight BCL seasons, while Peristeri arrive in this stage for the first time in their history.

Jerusalem and Karsiyaka end their season in the Round of 16, without a chance to reach another Final Four.