By Stefan Djordjevic/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Basketball Champions League playoff race is reaching its peak with just three Gamedays left in the regular season.
Four teams have secured a ticket so far, and one of them is JDA Dijon which improved this week to an 8-3 record in Group D. Good thing they did it ahead of time as this group has had the closest playoff race quite possibly in the competition history.
The French squad secured a ticket but they will have to keep fighting in order to stay at the top of the group. It will be no easy task as all seven teams behind them are chasing a playoff spot and they will have to go all out, especially next week.
|1||JDA Dijon *||11||8||3||72.7||
|2||Telekom Baskets Bonn||11||7||4||63.6||
|4||Besiktas Sompo Sigorta||11||5||6||45.5||
|8||Happy Casa Brindisi||11||4||7||36.4||
Falco Szombathely – Besiktas Sompo Sigorta (21/1, 18:00 CET)
JDA Dijon – Casademont Zaragoza (21/1, 20:30 CET)
Happy Casa Brindisi – PAOK (21/1, 20:30 CET)
Neptunas Klaipeda – Telekom Baskets Bonn (22/2, 18:00 CET)
Every win counts but some count more
Whoever wins next week will take a huge step towards playoffs and if Zaragoza and Bonn make it, we will have ourselves a triple 8-4 tie at the top for another interesting battle. Especially considering that Dijon and Bonn have a clash scheduled for Gameday 13.
Bonn has a nice chance to grab the first spot as they’ve beaten Zaragoza twice and won the first game against Dijon which, in fact, also lost to Zaragoza both times and it wouldn’t be the best scenario for them if a tiebreaker was to decide the ranking.
Meanwhile, Neptunas, Brindisi and PAOK are basically in a must-win situation although they would still have a slim chance in case of a loss.
Falco and Besiktas will fight directly for the fourth spot but keep in mind that the Turkish side won the first game convincingly by a 25-point margin (74-49) and although a loss would hurt, they would still be in a fairly good position to bounce back in the last two Gamedays.
If anything, Group D proved to be very unpredictable this season but in such scenarios, home court is usually a very important factor and it seems to be so in this case as well.
There are only two teams this season in BCL to have stayed undefeated in front of their fans and neither is in Group D. BAXI Manresa in Group A and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem in Group B have won all five home games so far.
However, despite that, Group D is the bunch with the best total record at home. Teams in Group D combined for 31-13 compared to Group C’s 27-17, Group A and B’s 28-16 record.
Five teams – Bonn (5-1), Zaragoza (5-1), Falco (4-1), Dijon (4-1) in Group D have lost only once at home followed by two squads – Besiktas (4-2), Neptunas (3-2) – with two losses while PAOK is the only team with a negative score in front of their fans (2-4).
On the flip side, and what set Dijon apart, is that they are the only squad with a positive (4-2) record on the road while Brindisi is the only team in the group not to win any of its six away games.
Dijon’s furious start and PAOK’s slumber
Dijon put on a perfect start in its second BCL season with four straight wins led by David Holston who instantly put his name in the MVP conversation.
On the other side, PAOK has been in BCL since the beginning in 2016 but the experience didn’t help this time around as the Greek squad had the worst start so far, losing the first four games.
In fact, the two teams faced each other in Gameday 4 and it was the first game that went down to the wire for each. Although it could have easily gone the other way, Holston stepped up in crunch time to confirm the gap. He banked three straight shots from deep in the last 90 seconds of the game pushing Dijon to victory.
— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) November 5, 2019
However, from that moment onward, the situation in the group started to balance out after that. Dijon fell twice in a row while PAOK emerged with three straight wins and it seems that the runs – and the ups and downs – of these two squads, perfectly describe everything that transpired in Group D so far.
There have been quite a bit of exciting games in Group D that went down to the wire including late comebacks. Various players stepped up to the occasion as well but some of them took it to the next level.
Brindisi players have the most ‘breakthrough’ performances so far led by Tyler Stone’s 38 PIR game against Zaragoza. He also logged 33 PIR once while his teammate Adrian Banks went for 34 PIR.
Dijon’s Lamonte Ulmer also had two huge performances with 36 and 34 PIR respectively against Besiktas and Falco.
Quite a bit of 30+ PIR’s (eight in total) but who managed to score 30 or more points? Again Brindisi’s duo of Banks and Stone, who went for 30 and 31 on occasion. However, Adam Smith joins them as he nailed 31 points twice for PAOK.
— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) November 20, 2019
A lot of great and clutch performances but the real test is yet to come and it’s time to see who is ready to step up when there is no ‘safety net’ below or enough time to get back up again.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League