By Alex Madrid / email@example.com
The “Death Group” of the Basketball Champions League was also known as the “Overtime Group” some time ago. Strasbourg, Banvit, AEK, Bayreuth, Estudiantes and the Italian reigning champions Venezia staged a series of dramatic clashes during the first weeks of competition. With four rounds gone, seven Group C games had already been decided in extra time.
After a heartbreaking last day in the regular season, in which Estudiantes and Venezia took each other out and AEK sealed their qualification at the buzzer, they were prepared for what was coming: the playoffs. The Greek side already knew how to deal with clutch time and they showed it in the Czech Republic, where Kevin Punter executed Nymburk.
The Basketball Champions League has proved to be, once again, one of the most matched competitions in the world. “There is no small team” is no longer a cliche because there have been upsets in the Round of 16. Three teams managed to advance to the quarterfinals despite not having the home court advantage… and two of them came from Group C.
In fact, the four teams from that group have advanced to the next round. After leaving behind Estudiantes and Venezia during the regular season, Strasbourg, Banvit, AEK and Bayreuth keep their sights on the Final Four.
Besiktas couldn’t defeat Bayreuth in either of their two meetings, where the Germans showed themselves as a very solid group; Banvit had a comfortable playoff round against Nanterre while Strasbourg suffered but finally walked victoriously against Neptunas. That was the moment when the “Death Group” became the “Deathly Group”.
The success of Bayreuth, Banvit and AEK taking down the best three squads from Group D means that bunch of teams were way under their quality. The success of Strasbourg, Bayreuth, Banvit and AEK should fill Estudiantes and Venezia with pride.They contributed to more exciting and dangerous playoffs.
In the next round, Banvit and Monaco will face each other in the reissue of the last season semifinals, Bayreuth will try to beat a powerful Ludwigsburg while AEK and Strasbourg will ensure the presence of a team from the “Deathly Group” in the Final Four.
So, it wasn’t just coincidence that 6 teams ended up so tight. Group C was the toughest in the competition in the Basketball Champions League.
Photo Credit: BCL