Team of the Month for January: Huertas, Hale, Randall, Smith, Wiley
MIES (Switzerland) - Basketball Champions League Season 8 entered its 2024 segment with an intense month of Play-Ins and Round of 16 action, in which a host of players put on magnificent performances. Only five players though can make it on the Team of the Month for January.
The point guard position belongs to Marcelinho Huertas. Lenovo Tenerife's leader has been unstoppable, propelling the two-time champions to a 2-0 record in the Round of 16 and posting the second ever 15-point, 15-assist game in BCL history.
Huertas had 17 and 15 against Pinar Karsiyaka on the road, then followed up this week with 18 points and 9 assists against Peristeri bwin at home.
As he approaches his 41st birthday he's playing his best basketball, averaging a career-high in European competitions with 14.5 points per game.
Huertas is flanked by two lefty shooters on Team of the Month. Hunter Hale led Promitheas Patras to the Round of 16 and flipped the script since the start of 2024.
While he averaged 10.5 points over his first four games in the BCL, he's gone off for 22.8 points per game since the Play-Ins tipped off.
Craig Randall II created a similar storyline in January, with a memorable 30-point elimination game on the road in Sassari for his Cholet Basket to stay alive.
Not only did they survive the Play-Ins, but thanks to Randall's hot shooting, Cholet have become a legitimate candidate for the Quarter-Finals, nearly upsetting Unicaja in France to end the month.
Randall is averaging 19.5 points per game in the Round of 16, and 19.7 points per game for the season, making him the BCL leading scorer in Season 8.
Inside, Justin Smith and Austin Wiley have been outstanding. Hapoel Holon outlasted Filou Oostende in their best-of-three Play-In series and stand at 1-1 in the Round of 16, after defeating AEK BETSSON BC and losing to UCAM Murcia on the road.
Smith scored in double figures in all five games, with a 28-point explosion in Game 3 against Oostende for his team to reach the Round of 16. He has shot an incredible 16-of-20 from the field across two Round of 16 games so far.
Incredibly, Smith did not pick up a single double-double in January, ending up with two 9-rebound performances. On the other hand, Austin Wiley pulled down a couple of massive double-doubles for Tofas Bursa.
The 25-year-old center had 23 points and 16 rebounds in Game 2 against PAOK mateco in the Play-Ins, and followed up with 11 points and 17 rebounds in the series decider.
He then completely dominated inside against SIG Strasbourg in the Round of 16 with 11 points in just 22 minutes, blocking 4 shots to extend his lead at the top of the Season 8 leading shot-blockers table, with 19 blocks total.
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Wiley's efficiency rating of 20.1 per game makes him the second-most efficient player of the season, trailing only Pinar Karsiyaka's Vernon Carey Jr.
One of these five will also be named the January MVP. Stay tuned for the announcement on the official BCL website on Friday.