The Great Eight: Dijon's legend puts them right next to AEK, Unicaja
MIES (Switzerland) - One day, when all is said and done, don't be surprised if David Holston is named an honorary citizen of Dijon, France.
On Tuesday, another mind-blowing performance from the US-born point guard pushed JDA Bourgogne Dijon to a 3-0 record as they joined European juggernauts AEK BETSSON BC and Unicaja, the only other unbeaten teams after three games at the start of this BCL season.
In line with this being the eighth season, we picked out great eight statistical categories to show you who excelled on Tuesday.
First things first, here are the results of the day:
- Galatasaray EKMAS (1-2) v SL Benfica (1-2) 98-78
- Rytas Vilnius (1-2) v BK Opava (0-3) 99-63
- JDA Bourgogne Dijon (3-0) v Promitheas Patras (2-1) 88-80
- UCAM Murcia (2-1) v Tofas Bursa (1-2) 115-89
And now, the eight stats that stood out:
JDA Bourgogne Dijon had a pattern through all of their previous BCL campaigns. They would shine domestically, while fighting to make it through to the next round(s). This season, however, the yin and the yang exchanged places for the perennial Round of 16 contenders.
Dijon are off to a 4-7 start in the French League, while playing way better basketball in the continental competition. They hosted Promitheas Patras on Tuesday night, in a battle of two 2-0 teams heading into the matchup.
Some expected a close game, given Dijon's domestic struggles and Promitheas' much better start in 2023-24, but also the fact that Vitalis Chikoko was unable to help the French team due to injury. Those people were proven wrong, though.
Dijon made it a one-way street affair from start to the finish, staying for more than 36 minutes in front of their Greek rivals, with just a single lead change in all four quarters. If there was any doubt, if there was any hope of Promitheas putting together a strong run late in the game, it disappeared when they saw the legendary number 11 take over.
David Holston will turn 38 in a couple of months, but he's showing no signs of slowing down. The point guard put up 14 points in the third quarter alone, and counted 25 points on the day, the most in the BCL on November 14, hitting 8-of-10 shots from the field, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.
He also had 4 assists and just a single turnover, all done in 21 minutes of playing time. More points than minutes is always impressive, but when he's doing it at 37, it's unreal.
Just like that, Nenad Markovic's Dijon are up to 3-0. The last time they won three straight BCL games was back in November 2020. Time flies, but Holston is somehow always there and ready to help.
Holston's teammate Aleksandar Lazic had 8 rebounds to lead the pack, putting together a nice stat line with 9 points and a +17 for his team while he was on the court.
Rytas Vilnius could've easily been at 2-0 with the way their two close games at the start of the BCL season ended. But instead they dropped to 0-2, and found themselves in a must-win situation at home to BK Opava, which probably explains the first half jitters against the Czech champs.
However, Arnas Velicka had the panacea, and he served it off the bench. The point guard dished out 9 assists, the most in the BCL on the day, with 12 points and 2 steals also to his name, pushing the tempo for 40 minutes. He helped propel Rytas to their first win of the season, keeping them in the hunt for the Round of 16 or at least the Play-In Series.
Velicka is getting better with each new game. With 12 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, +29 in +/- and 22 in efficiency, he set his new BCL season-highs in all of those categories.
Velicka's teammate Margiris Normantas needed just 20 minutes to get 4 steals. Normantas is currently averaging 3.0 steals per game in the BCL.
Galatasaray EKMAS were in a situation similar to Rytas, and they reacted in similar fashion, pulling away from SL Benfica after the break to pick up their first win of the campaign.
Although the final score would suggest it was smooth sailing, it really was not. The Portuguese champs owned a 9-point lead early in the game, and it was only when coach Zvezdan Mitrovic started drawing up plays for Sadik Emir Kabaca that Galatasaray snapped out of their slump.
Kabaca finished with 20 points, setting his new BCL career-high, continuing the impressive growth as the reigning Best Young Player in this competition. But his defense is looking better than ever before, using his neverending wingspan to block 4 shots on Tuesday.
He's the first Galatasaray player with at least four blocks in a game, and he doubled his previous best blocking game in this competition.
Velicka again, +29.
It's never a question of the big names delivering for clubs like Galatasaray. Guys like Dee Bost, Jarell Martin, Jonah Radebaugh or Miralem Halilovic will figure it out.
That's why it's up to the other guys to follow that lead and become inspirational on any given night. It could be Kabaca, it could be Goksenin Koksal, it could be Akwasi Yeboah - in fact it is Ismet Akpinar.
The backup point guard also set his new BCL career-high with 22 points, coming off the bench, hitting 7-of-9 shots, with 4 assists, 2 rebounds, a steal and a block, giving him an efficiency rating of 26.
Akpinar's previous BCL career-high was 18 points with Besiktas back in 2019-20.
Most three-pointers made
UCAM Murcia are a different animal at home. The Palacio de los Deportes shines a bit brighter on European nights, and the crowd is getting their money's worth because after blowing out Tofas Bursa to get to 2-1 for the season, UCAM Murcia are now 18-1 in their last 19 BCL home games.
Coach Sito Alonso loves spreading minutes across all 12 of his players, meaning nobody played less than five and more than 24 minutes, but everybody contributed.
Tofas Bursa's defense felt the most pain whenever Troy Caupain attempted a shot. Murcia's sharp shooter hit 6-of-7 shots from beyond the three-point line, finishing with a team-high 18 points in just 16 minutes of action.
Murcia set their new scoring mark in the BCL with 115 points, and they've tied their largest win (+26, v MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg in January 2019), sending a message which is pretty loud and clear. They won't settle for anything less than a group win here.