17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
1 Justin Tillman (AEK)
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The Great Eight: Tillman goes off in AEK's historic start, Mawugbe blocks Unicaja's run

MIES (Switzerland) - Unicaja reached Wednesday unbeaten, but that's no longer the case. Hapoel Holon were also perfect, but suffered their first defeat. However, AEK BETSSON BC did not stumble, and climbed to 4-0.

This is the first time in the eight seasons of the Basketball Champions League that The Queen started the season with four straight wins. When you add context - AEK are a former champion and a runner-up in this competition and still never had such a start to the season - it makes this a historic success for the Greek team.

Here are all the results of the day:

  • AEK BETSSON BC (4-0) v King Szczecin (1-3): 86-64
  • Banco di Sardegna Sassari (1-3) v MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (2-2): 80-97
  • Rio Breogan (2-2) v Hapoel Holon (2-1): 82-72
  • Le Mans Sarthe Basket (2-2) v Unicaja (3-1): 85-78

In line with this being Season 8, we went through the numbers of the day to pick out eight that stood out, the Great Eight.

Most points

Banco di Sardegna Sassari pulled off a major surprise last time out, beating MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg on the road in Germany. That just meant that the response from the German club would be forceful, to prove a point and get that tiebreaker back.

Coach Josh King enjoyed a dominant performance, with his team trailing for just 36 seconds and spending 39 minutes in front of their hosts. The lead ballooned to +25 at one point, and even with the expected drop of intensity, Ludwigsburg still protected the overall lead to win the game by 17.

Since they lost the first matchup by 10, that means they would finish in front of Sassari in case of a tie at the end of the Regular Season.

The biggest reason why? The hottest scorer of the BCL so far, Jayvon Graves. The 24-year-old had another 20-point game, hitting 7-of-17 from the field to become the first player to score 20 points or more in three games this season.

Most rebounds

AEK BETSSON BC have a lot of firepower this season. Pick your poison, shooting, post ups, passing, defense, basketball IQ, coach Joan Plaza is enjoying his time in the yellow-and-black part of Athens, for sure.

We had Chasson Randle as the leader of the MVP Race last week, but to be fair, it could've been Justin Tillman as well. The center came off the bench this time around, but still found his usual efficiency and pulled out a double-double in just 19 minutes of action against Polish champs King Szczecin.

AEK were in control throughout the game, and just switched through gears after the break to grab a comfortable win, their largest in the BCL since November 2020.

Tillman finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, the most boards on the night, for his first career BCL double-double.

Group D

8/12 games played

# Team P W L % +/- FA AA  
1 AEK AEK BETSSON BC 4 4 0 100 40 84.8 74.8 8
2 LUD MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg 4 2 2 50.0 6 84.2 82.8 6
3 SZCZ King Szczecin 4 1 3 25.0 -27 78 84.8 5
4 DSS Banco di Sardegna Sassari 4 1 3 25.0 -19 83.2 88 5

Eddy Edigin of Ludwigsburg and Justin Smith of Hapoel Holon also grabbed 10 rebounds on Wednesday.

Most assists

Jordan McRae doesn't need to score 20+ to dominate a game. AEK's floor general had 8 assists, his season-best mark by some distance - he had a total of four assists in the first three games.

Most steals

Ludwigsburg's backcourt is trouble, both Jayvon Graves and Desure Buie had 3 steals against Sassari. Le Mans Sarthe Basket's DeVante' Jones had 3 steals in a fine all-round performance against Unicaja, also getting 18 points and 6 assists.

Most blocks

Jones's defense was just one part of the collective effort it took for Le Mans Sarthe Basket to hand Unicaja their first defeat in ten games in all competitions, and the first BCL defeat of the season.

They did not allow Unicaja to get any kind of offensive flow going, and protecting the paint was the key, because they held the top-placed Power Rankings team to just 26 points in the paint, while scoring 48 from the same distance at the other end.

Protecting the paint was Selom Mawugbe's job. He had 5 blocks against Unicaja in their first matchup, and followed it up with 3 blocks on Wednesday, meaning his rim protection is not just a statistical error or a small sample. Four games in, Mawugbe is averaging 3.0 blocks per game.

With his physical presence, Le Mans jumped to 2-2. Unicaja are still top of the group, and they protected the tiebreaker lead over the French club, because they won the first game by nine points.

Group A

8/12 games played

# Team P W L % +/- FA AA  
1 UNI Unicaja 4 3 1 75.0 28 82.2 75.2 7
2 MSB Le Mans Sarthe Basket 4 2 2 50.0 8 79.5 77.5 6
3 PERI Peristeri bwin 4 2 2 50.0 -25 77.2 83.5 6
4 FAL Falco Vulcano Szombathely 4 1 3 25.0 -11 79 81.8 5
Best +/-

Imagine stopping Randle, McRae, Tillman, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Ben McLemore and Langston Hall, and still having to deal with Mfiondu Kabengele. AEK's big guy was a starter against King Szczecin, and they could not handle him, allowing AEK to go +30 in Kabengele's 19 minutes of action.

Highest efficiency

Hapoel Holon probably watched the way Bursaspor Info Yatirim upset Telekom Baskets Bonn 24 hours earlier, and thought they have a clear path towards the Round of 16. Trouble is, Rio Breogan had their own calculator out after that result.

The Spaniards did allow Hapoel to come back from -14 and take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Mouhamet Diouf had no intention of letting the purple squad steal one on the road.

The Italian center - who turned 22 just a couple of months ago - brought all of the power to both ends of the floor to pick up the highest efficiency of the night. He had 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, Breogan were +20 with him playing, and he got to efficiency rating of 25 in less than 23 minutes of work.

Big game for Diouf and Rio Breogan. Big complications in Group F, too.

Group F

7/12 games played

# Team P W L % +/- FA AA  
1 BONN Telekom Baskets Bonn 4 2 2 50.0 22 83.2 77.8 6
2 BREO Rio Breogan 4 2 2 50.0 10 75 72.5 6
3 HOLO Hapoel Holon 3 2 1 66.7 -4 77 78.3 5
4 BURS Bursaspor Info Yatirim 3 1 2 33.3 -28 71 80.3 4
Most three-pointers made

Holon's Drew Crawford nearly tied a BCL record. He made all five of his three-point attempts, scoring the most threes this week, but he was two triples shy of equaling Sek Henry's record for most threes without a miss in a BCL game (7  of 7 back in 2021).