The first leg of the Basketball Champions League playoffs has provided some surprising results. Let’s see the chances of each loser team to bounce back and remove the deficit, in order to qualify to the next stage of the BCL playoffs:
- Umana Venezia lost by 23 points at Nizhny Novgorod and it seems they have no chance to beat the visitors with 24 in the 2nd leg. Nizhny is a solid team with a core of Russian players and Venezia is not at their best this season. The Italians have an impressive roster but their focus and motivation are not high.
- PAOK lost at home the Greek derby against AEK Athens with 9 points and nobody gives them a credit they can turn the tables in the away game next week.
- Virtus Bologna has to win at home after they tied in the last seconds of the first leg at Le Mans. The addition of ex-Maccabi Tel Aviv guard, Kendrick Ray gave wings to the French side in the home game. But I think at Bologna, Virtus will have a big chance to smash Le Mans, especially now when Mario Chalmers will be more integrated into the team.
- Neptunas has no chance to turn back the 12 points deficit from the first leg, playing away at Hapoel Jerusalem. The Israeli squad is the main favorite to win the Basketball Champions League trophy this season.
- Spanish teams have a good level and always can surprise you at home. Even more when we speak about the first BCL winner. Iberostar Tenerife. But the newcomers of this edition, the Greeks from Promitheas showed great skills on both sides of the court in the 1st game won by 12 points margin. Will Tenerife bounce back destroying the Greek squad in the Canarian Islands or they will focus more on Liga ACB, leaving the BCL playoffs?
- I think Banvit has a big chance to cut the 2 points deficit from the 1st leg and to advance to the Quarterfinals in the home game against Brose Bamberg. This is one of the most balanced series of the BCL playoffs, but home court advantage has to help the Turkish side to succeed.
- The other Spanish team surprised in the 1st game is Murcia. They lost at Antwerp with 8 point margin which can be removed easily at home. But will Murcia (who last week beat F.C. Barcelona in Liga ACB) still focus on BCL playoffs or on the Spanish league where they are on the last spots?
- Nanterre is one of the unexpected heroes of this competition and they are now at 2 steps distance from qualifying to the quarterfinals. Can Besiktas remove the deficit of 9 points, especially now when Jason Rich and Robin Benzing are injured? Hard to believe but not impossible.
Gratian Cormos, email@example.com