Unicaja Malaga had a successful debut in the Basketball Champions League with a road victory in Russia against Nizhny Novgorod.
In another game, Sasu Salin and Aaron Doornekamp put on the show for Lenovo Tenerife against Ukrainian champions Prometey, protecting the Spanish clubs’ perfect record for the start of Season 6.
Prometey led 43-32 at the break against Lenovo Tenerife, who is still trying to find its way without their injured pivot Giorgi Shermadini. They came up with a solution in the third quarter, giving the ball to Sasu Salin and watching him go wild, making six three-pointers in the quarter and scoring 24 points in those ten minutes. Salin beat Prometey 24-4 in the third quarter!
However, Ronen Ginzburg’s men bounced back. Led by D’Angelo Harrison’s 22 points, Prometey tied the game with two minutes to play. Aaron Doornekamp turned out to be the hero, hitting one late shot clock three-pointer to keep Tenerife in front, and once Chris Dowe made it 70-all with 19 seconds to go, Txus Vidorreta called his Canadian forward’s number again.
Marcelino Huertas and Kyle Wiltjer played a high pick and roll. Huertas found Bruno Fitipaldo cutting backdoor, and the Uruguayan guard went for the extra pass from the painted area to the left corner, where Doornekamp was locked and loaded. He knocked down the triple to set the final score at 73-70.
Salin finished with 33 points on 8-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc and also had eight rebounds. Fitipaldo scored 13, Julian Gamble jumped into Shermadini’s starting spot and collected 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks. Doornekamp had 3 points before knocking down the last two triples.
Unicaja winning big in Russia
While Lenovo Tenerife is used to winning in the Regular Season of this competition, their compatriots from Malaga picked up their first win in the BCL ever. Fotios Katsikaris and his guys were up against Nizhny Novgorod, last season’s Quarter-Finalist, and they were well prepared for what usually happens in Russia.
This time around, there was no trademark second-half run by Zoran Lukic and Nizhny Novgorod. Unicaja held them to 25 points over the last 20 minutes while scoring 27 points in the fourth quarter alone to end up with a massive 79-62 win in their hands.
Jaime Fernandez had 21 points and six assists in just 24 minutes off the bench. Former BCL winner Tim Abromaitis comes back to the competition with 13 points and eight boards. Norris Cole scored 12 for the green team. Nizhny Novgorod shot just 5-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Perl, Falco win the battle of black-and-yellow
Speaking of super subs, AEK got a taste of what Zoltan Perl can do as the sixth man in coach Milos Konakov’s rotation. Perl scored 21 points with six assists and five rebounds, being the hometown hero once again for Falco Szombathely, leading the Hungarian champs to an 83-78 win over AEK.
Szilard Benke had 16 points, Boris Barac scored 15, giant Gyorgy Goloman deserves mention for his 9 points, five rebounds, and two blocks, as does Benedek Varadi for doing a bit of everything with 8 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Nikos Pappas had 20 for AEK.
Galatasray Nef’s one-two punch too much for ERA Nymburk
Over in Turkey, Galatasaray Nef showed the rest of the world their new dynamic duo. DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Melo Trimble kept the fans in Istanbul singing by taking down back-to-back Quarter-Finalist ERA Nymburk 101-85.
Akoon-Purcell led the way through the first three quarters, getting 21 of his 23 points after 30 minutes of basketball. Trimble took over in the last quarter, shooting the lights out in Sinan Erdem Arena, scoring 17 of his game-high 33 in the last stanza, leading the way to triple digits for coach Ekrem Memnun. Trimble went 8-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Jerrick Harding scored 21 for the Czech champs.
Home crowd helping Oldenburg
In Germany, EWE Baskets Oldenburg returned to the BCL for the first time since 2017-18. The packed EWE Arena witnessed a dramatic finish to the game with Rytas Vilnius, and Max Heidegger played the role of the hero, getting the go-ahead layup with 38 seconds left to play.
Rytas missed a pullup two-pointer for the tie, allowing Bennet Hundt and Heidegger to seal the deal from the line – it finished 76-72. Heidegger scored a game-high 26 for coach Mladen Drijencic, Ivan Buva had 21 at the other end.
Holon send out a message
Back in March 2021, Hapoel U-NET Holon and Happy Casa Brindisi played a pair of close games in the Basketball Champions League, both of them ending with two-point wins by Holon, one of them coming after overtime.
Based on their previous matchups, we expected a close encounter again, but coach Maurizio Buscaglia had other plans on his return to his homeland. The Italian play-caller led Holon to an 88-61 win on the road after leading by 36 late in Q3.
Steven Gray, Joe Ragland, and Chris Johnson combined for 56 on the night. Jeremy Chappell was the only man in double digits for Brindisi with 10 points.
Crazy finish in France
Kalev/Cramo showed they are a tough team in the Qualifying Rounds, and the first-ever appearance by an Estonian club in the Regular Season just proved that they will be hard to beat. The game went down to the final buzzer – and beyond.
SIG Strasbourg had a timeout, and coach Lassi Tuovi drew up a play for the final seven seconds. John Roberson missed his runner, but Matt Mitchell cleaned up the mess and dunked it down with a second left to play.
While the crowd was already celebrating in France, Silas Melson ran the court and banked in a three-pointer for Kalev/Cramo. The referees reviewed the play, and it was determined that Melson was too late. The ball was still in his hands as the buzzer sounded, keeping Strasbourg up 75-73.
The captain led the charge for SIG. DeAndre Lansdowne had 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, Roberson scored 14, Mitchell was a rebound shy of a double-double with 12 points. Melson finished with 18 for the Estonian champs.
Perfect start for Spaniards completed by Manresa
Hereda San Pablo Burgos won on Monday, while Lenovo Tenerife and Unicaja were joined late on Wednesday by BAXI Manresa to make it four wins in four games for the Spanish clubs.
Manresa outlasted Arged BM Stal Ostrow Wielkopolski 81-76, thanks to a stellar fourth-quarter defense that held the Polish side to 14 points over the last ten minutes and just two in the last two minutes.
Coach Pedro Martinez will be happy with 27 assists on 30 field goals. Guillem Jou had 18 points, and Joe Thomasson finished with 17. Ismael Bako dunked his way to 15 points on a 7-of-7 shooting, showing he’s still the same player who was selected to the Star Lineup back in 2019. Michael Young scored 16 for the Polish champs.