By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
With the Basketball Champions League Regular Season on the books and the playoffs changing into a four-group format that leads to the Final Eight, things are getting more unpredicted than ever.
The promise of the competition to deliver opportunities to every European club that can accept the challenge is already fulfilled. Two of last season’s Final Eight contenders, Dijon and Hapoel Jerusalem, are already out, and only four teams of the Final Eight finished on top of their regular season groups.
Turk Telekom, Casademont Zaragoza, Iberostar Tenerife, and defending champions San Pablo Burgos are those four teams, while AEK and ERA Numburk dropped to second place.
So there are four teams that finished on top of their group standings, Tofas Bursa, SIG Strasbourg, Brose Bamberg, and Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon, with the Israelis being the poster boys of the new wave of contenders.
Led by Greek coach Stefanos Dedas who has a solid body of work as an assistant coach of Jure Zdovc and also as a head coach for four seasons in Turkey with Gaziantep and Bahcesehir Koleji, before joining Holon in 2019, Hapoel Holon is playing better than expected and can do real damage to anyone.
After all, they have beaten former champions AEK with a roster that includes Israeli talent which is familiar to European fans like Guy Pnini and Yogev Ohayon, a Belgian veteran who has been a key addition named Maxime De Zeeuw, a dynamic scorer in CJ Harris, forward Isaiah Miles who is having his best European season yet and dependable veterans like Tyrus McGee, Chris Johnson, and Willy Workman.
Holon is not a new club to the Israeli basketball scene, having been founded in 1947 and getting the 2008 Israeli league title with current Houston Rockets forward PJ Tucker being the MVP.
And who knows what they can achieve in the BCL this season while celebrating their 74th birthday.