By Stefan Djordjevic/ firstname.lastname@example.org
After skipping a season, BAXI Manresa returned to the Basketball Champions League and the Spanish team has been putting on a convincing display in Group B.
They are yet to lose a game, boasting a perfect 4-0 record, and they’ve already swept the last year’s runner-up Pinar Karsiyaka which has been their main rival in the group. Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem and Arged BM Stal Ostrów Wielkopolski also fell and will also be the next two matchups for Manresa.
While Manresa has been showcasing many weapons on its roster and pushing the limits with a well-balanced team effort, Ismael Bako’s run this year has been a perfect example of how efficient the team’s style of play has been.
Two games, in particular, stood out by Bako – the first and the last one.
Bako opened the season in the Basketball Champions League with a perfect 7-7 shooting and 15 points. However, that wasn’t his best. His best came in the most recent clash against Pinar Karsiyaka.
He put on another perfect display with 8-8 from the field on his way to 20 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing three assists, and adding two blocks and a steal.
All those stats accumulated to an index rating of 36 and Bako signed his name in the BCL record books.
Bako became the first player in Basketball Champions League history to combine 20+ points and 10+ rebounds while keeping 100% accuracy on both his field goals and free throws (4-4).
Additionally, he became the second bench player to get an efficiency rating greater than 35 while spending fewer than 30 minutes on the court in a BCL game. The first one was Jack Cooley who logged 37 PIR, back in 2016 for MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg against Proximus Spirou.
It goes to show that Ismael Bako is returning to his former glory when it comes to the Basketball Champions League, as this hasn’t been his first stint in the competition. In fact, it was his run with the young squad of Telenet Giants Antwerps in the 2018-19 season that put his name on the map.
Antwerp boasted the youngest squad in the BCL history that season and their raw talent, coupled with huge energy on the court, pushed them to the Final Four, taking up third place in the end.
His display led him to sign for ASVEL where he assumed a more reserved role as the backup with fewer minutes and it showed in the numbers. Far from it that Basko wasn’t impactful on the French team’s roster, especially in the few explosive performances he put on.
After two years in France and Euroleague, now the 26-year-old Bako has returned to the Basketball Champions League with Manresa and he seems to have fit in perfectly, whether he starts the game or comes off the bench.
If his past trip to the Final Four and Manresa’s 4-0 start mean something, then a lot can be expected from the Spanish team going forward.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League