17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
4 Justin Gorham (VILN), 26 Jaime Echenique (PROM)
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The Great Eight: Big blocks save the day in Lithuania, Italy

MIES (Switzerland) - Five games were played on Wednesday, three went down to the wire and two were decided by impressive blocks that saved the day. Meanwhile, JDA Bourgogne Dijon and Hapoel Holon protected their group leads with ease.

First things first, here are the Wednesday results:

  • PAOK mateco (3-1) v SL Benfica (1-3): 76-74
  • Bursaspor Info Yatirim (1-3) v Hapoel Holon (3-1): 74-93
  • JDA Bourgogne Dijon (4-0) v BK Opava (0-4): 99-64
  • Rytas Vilnius (2-2) v Promitheas Patras (2-2): 77-75
  • Bertram Derthona Tortona (4-0) v Tofas Bursa (1-3): 91-85

Now, in line with this being the eighth season of the Basketball Champions League, here are the eight stats that stood out on the day.

Most points

There's a common theme across the last eight seasons of this competition: Paradoxically, if you ever get a double-digit lead against SIG Strasbourg or Hapoel Holon, you could be in trouble.

As if to prove this point, Holon erased yet another 10+ point deficit on Wednesday, outscoring Bursaspor 29-12 in the fourth quarter to turn an 11-point deficit into a 22-point lead.

This was their 14th win after trailing by double digits, second all-time in the BCL behind Strasbourg, who have pulled this off on 16 occasions.

The biggest reason why Holon were successful is the man we can already consider their legendary player.

CJ Harris first played for Holon during the 2020-21 season, then came back in 2022 and is still the same old game-winner for the Israeli team.

Harris finished with 25 points, two shy of his BCL career-high, hitting 8-of-11 shots from the field and 4-of-4 from the line.

Group F

# Team P W L %  
1 HOLO Hapoel Holon 4 3 1 75.0 7
2 BONN Telekom Baskets Bonn 4 2 2 50.0 6
3 BREO Rio Breogan 4 2 2 50.0 6
4 BURS Bursaspor Info Yatirim 4 1 3 25.0 5

Most rebounds

Tofas Bursa fell just short of an upset win in Italy, but against Bertram Derthona Tortona two of their players reached double digits in rebounds.

Omar Prewitt had 13, Austin Wiley 12, and it was only the fifth time in BCL history and the first time in two-and-a half years that a pair of teammates had 12 or more rebounds in the same game.

Most assists

Retin Obasohan sat out the last game for Tortona, but his comeback was inspiring for the Italian team.

He dished out 9 assists coming off the bench, to go along with his 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

Most steals

JDA Bourgogne Dijon had no trouble with BK Opava, breezing to a comfy win, as Allan Dokossi did a lot of work on the defensive end,  with 5 steals.

Dijon are off to a 4-0 start, two wins clear of everybody else in Group B, but with two games to go still not certain of reaching the Round of 16 directly.

However, this is a more than impressive start to the season for this team that reached the Semi-Finals in 2020. For the first time in four years, Dijon won four straight, tying their best ever winning streak in the BCL, which dates back to November 2019.

Also, coach Nenad Markovic is now up to 40 wins in the BCL. Txus Vidorreta (83 wins) and Dario Gjergja (41 wins) are the only two coaches ahead of him on the all-time list.

Group B

8/12 games played

# Team P W L %  
1 JDA JDA Bourgogne Dijon 4 4 0 100 8
2 PROM Promitheas Patras 4 2 2 50.0 6
3 VILN Rytas Vilnius 4 2 2 50.0 6
4 OPA BK Opava 4 0 4 0 4

Most blocks

Aleksandar Lazic had the most blocks with three, but TaShawn Thomas and Justin Gorham had the biggest blocks of the day.

Tortona and Tofas went to overtime, and it seemed like the road team could stun the hosts in Italy. However, with time expiring in overtime, what seemed like an easy layup turned into a game-winning block by BCL's all-time blocking leader.

Thomas' two blocks on the day took him to a total of 70 career blocks. He is the first player to reach that mark, and with 16 points on the other end, he helped Tortona to a 4-0 start.

"As a coach, I really wonder how did the guys find the energy to fight in this game only three days after another overtime game in the Italian league," coach Marco Ramondino said afterwards.

The last Italian team to start with four wins in four games? Segafredo Virtus Bologna, who had seven straight wins and went on to lift the trophy in 2018-19.

Meanwhile, there was another beautiful game-winning block in Lithuania. Promitheas Patras looked to complete the sweep against Rytas Vilnius, but RJ Cole had other ideas, driving to the basket again and again down the stretch to finish with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.

Cole's layup with 2.9 seconds to play gave Rytas Vilnius a 77-75 lead, and it turned out to be the final score because Justin Gorham came up with a block, which turned out to be huge.

Promitheas went inside on their last possession, feeding Jaime Echenique, but he was met at the rim for the biggest block of the day.

Not only did Rytas win the game, they won by the same margin as Promitheas in the first matchup. Consequently the two teams are tied at 2-2 and it will be their total points' difference which decides which one finishes higher in the standings, provided of curse they remain tied at the end of the Regular Season.

Best +/-

Dijon's Ahmad Caver and Vitalis Chikoko were both +29 against BK Opava. But an honorable mention goes out to Laurynas Beliauskas, who propelled PAOK mateco to a 3-1 record in a tough group with SL Benfica, Galatasaray EKMAS and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem.

Group G

7/12 games played

# Team P W L %  
1 PAOK PAOK mateco 4 3 1 75.0 7
2 JLM Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 3 2 1 66.7 5
3 SLB SL Benfica 4 1 3 25.0 5
4 GALA Galatasaray EKMAS 3 1 2 33.3 4

Beliauskas had 20 points in 28 minutes off the bench, hitting four threes and getting to +10. Considering the game ended by just two points' margin, that +10 felt - and was - game changing.

Highest efficiency

CJ Harris again, with 30. Sixth man this season to post a game of 30 or more in efficiency rating, joining Harald Frey, Zoltan Perl, Ivan Almeida, Stephane Gombauld and Caleb Homesley.

Most three-pointers made

CJ Harris again, hitting 5-of-6 threes on the day. It was his BCL career-high in threes made in a single game, and he is currently shooting 11-of-20 from beyond the arc across four games so far.