Dijon enters history books with an improbable comeback and more in Istanbul

2024-01-31T14:20:04+00:00 2024-01-31T14:33:14+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

31/Jan/24 14:20


Turbulence in JDA Dijon leads to a history-making showing boosting the bid to reach the Quarterfinals of the Basketball Champions League

By Johnny Askounis/ info@eurohoops.net

Competing in the Round of 16 of the Basketball Champions League for the third season in a row, JDA Dijon is eager for the next step. Dealing with the prospect of a 0-2 start in Group J, storming back from a 25-point deficit to instead jump to 1-1 matched the biggest comeback in the league history.

La Jeanne led for 28 seconds in Sinan Erdem Dome but made it count. On the heels of a head-coaching adjustment of its own, returning play-caller Laurent Legname guided his players to a history-making comeback against Galatasaray Ekmas, while pushing Galatasaray boss Zvezdan Mitrovic to the exit.

“Only in basketball, you can see this situation,” the 46-year-old French head coach described the furious rally in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Overcoming a 25-point deficit set a new record for the biggest comeback by an away team in BCL history. AEK was the previous team digging its way out of a 25-point hole, stunning Pinar Karsiyaka in a home showing back in December 2022. That game sent both sides to the Play-Ins via Group B of the Regular Season. The latest improbable run massively improved the status of the French club in the effort to clinch a berth in the Quarterfinals.

“An amazing win for the history of JDA,” noted Legname on the rarity of such a comeback.

Trailing by 25 points with 13 minutes left and by 20 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter surely hinted at a premature conclusion. But improved defense combined with big-time shots in the offense turned the tables in favor of the visitors. “I am proud of my players, because they never gave up, never, never,” mentioned the thrilled tactician.

Allan Dokossi posted a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double to go with three assists and two steals. His efficiency rating of 28 topped all players across both teams.

“We knew the first half was not our game, because they scored 60 points. Our philosophy is really focused on our defense,” admitted the 24-year-old forward, “We had a great reaction after the first half.”

Besides the comeback, the team located in eastern France recorded a fourth win in as many BCL showings in Turkiye.

David Holston hits milestone

Longtime leader David Holston is no stranger to achievements with Dijon. Especially in the Champions League, he emerged as the fourth player to pass the 900-point mark. The 38-year-old point guard netting 15 points against the Lions upped his total to 910 points. Vojtech Hruban, Giorgi Shermadini, and Levi Randolph are the only players with more points.

Introducing himself in 2015, staying until 2017, and returning for good in 2018, the Chicago State product has been around throughout all six campaigns of Dijon in FIBA Europe’s top-tier club continental competition. The most successful run translated into ranking third in the 2020 Final Eight. The 2018-19 and 2020-21 campaigns ended in the Regular Season. In 2021-22 and 2022-23, he helped his side make it to the Round of 16.

Averaging 14.1 points per contest, Holston was on track to join the 900-point club. Also on track for a new career-high in the BCL, he hopes individual production culminates in Dijon ranking in the top two seeds of the group opposite Galatasaray, MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, and defending champion Telekom Baskets Bonn. Generating an opportunity to compete in a best-of-three series for a spot in the 2024 Final Four is the task at hand.

Besides sitting fourth among the all-time top scorers of the league, Holston is first in the all-time list of players with the most steals. Adding to the dominance of La Jeanne in the specific category, Slovenian Gregor Hrovat leaped over former Dijon forward Jeremy Leloup to rank third on Tuesday. Two steals upped his total to 92, over Leloup stopping at 91 in 2020. UCAM Murcia’s Howard Sant-Roos is second with 100 steals to his name and Holston leads with 118.

More to come for Dijon

Bouncing back in style after a home loss to Ludwigsburg in Gameday 1, the team based in a city famous for Dijon mustard went up to 1-1 in the four-team group. The next challenge is opposite Bonn in Palais des Sport Jean-Michel-Geoffroy on Wednesday, February 7. Potentially improving to 2-1 can set the pace in the race to the Quarterfinals.

Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League

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