By Johnny Askounis/ [email protected]
The Basketball Champions League Regular Season up and running puts forward several discussions, most regarding the contenders placing early bids for the 2021-22 championship and underdogs off to impressive starts. Plenty of teams packing solid rosters in what can easily be labeled as the strongest BCL season to date.
The Champions League is widely acknowledged as the place to be for the most talented youngsters. This stage has propelled players into the NBA and other leagues around the world. However, FIBA’s top European club continental competition also hosts experienced players coming in for the extra pinch of salt for teams looking to survive through the competitive environment.
Some veteran US-based players making a living in the Old Continent for at least the better part of the last couple of decades displayed their readiness from the beginning of the campaign, Regular Season Round 1. Don’t look past Euros, at the later stages of their careers, tutoring younger teammates, and at the same time putting up numbers.
Darden, Logan, Benda stood out in Round 1
Tremmell Darden re-signed with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg this summer. Coming out of the Niagara program in 2004, he went undrafted. It’s been nearly 20 years since with stints all around Europe leading him to the 2021-22 edition of the Basketball Champions League.
“It completes my career in Europe. I have played in every international competition, FIBA Europe Cup, EuroCup, EuroLeague, and now playing in the Basketball Champions League makes that happen,” he explained to Eurohoops, “It also feels good to play in international games again after not doing so for so long, especially when I was supposed to be finished years ago. God’s grace is amazing.”
The American guard/forward, born on November 17, 1981, helped his side defeat Banco di Sardegna Sassari, 94-81, on Saturday. He had 11 points and an 11 efficiency rating in just over 25 minutes. A strong showing right there.
“My most important contributions will be leadership and experience,” he noted, “Stepping up in important moments and bringing calm to the team.”
Over the years, Darden has displayed his game-winning mentality in Turkey, Belgium, France, Spain, Lithuania, Greece, and Germany. His stops include storied clubs as Real Madrid and Olympiacos, just to name a few. This is his 18th season in Europe.
On the losing end of the same fixture, Sassari’s David Logan poured a team-high 21 points generating a 20 efficiency rating. He returned to the Sardinia club in July for a second run following the extremely successful stint between 2014 and 2016, highlighted by the 2015 Italian League title, the lone domestic championship in team history.
“It is a tough group for sure, the toughest in my opinion,” Logan explained to Eurohoops early in his 16th European season and third in the Champions League, “Fewer games in the first round compared to when I played a few years ago, so the games are important from the first until the last.”
The former Indianapolis standout went undrafted in 2005. His travels have since brought him from Italy, Israel, and Poland to Spain, Greece, and France. An experienced guard and a heavy-hitter born December 26, 1982, more than capable to to make buckets and then more buckets whenever the opportunity arises.
“Paying attention to the little details with the different game plans with each opponent,” he added replying to a question regarding his most important contribution to the team moving forward.
Regular Season Group A additionally features traditional BCL power, Lenovo Tenerife, and fast-rising Prometey, besides Sassari and Ludwigsburg.
Champions League lasting original ERA Nymburk tipped off the new season at the wrong end of the result, 101-85, against Galatasaray NEF. Most of the solid core of Czech Republic players is still there, under the guidance of Aleksander Sekulic, the successor of Oren Amiel.
An example, Petr Benda standing at 2.04m, and born on March 25, 1982. The experienced big man has played in all six Champions League campaigns as a member of Nymburk since 2007, nearly a decade prior to the BCL beginnings. He registered four points, eight rebounds, and four assists in the loss to Galatasaray.
Other notable opening week performances
Canadian Aaron Doornekamp (5/12/85) banked in the game-winner for Lenovo Tenerife. He logged nine points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the 73-70 away victory against brand new BCL entry Prometey.
American Alex Renfroe (23/5/86) had ten points with 3/3 field goals to go along with eight assists, five rebounds and one steal as back-to-back champion Hereda San Pablo Burgos took down Besiktas Icrypex, 82-74.
Cuban-German, defensive specialist Yorman Polas Bartolo (8/8/85) going through his tenth season in Europe supplemented 12 points in the Ludwigsburg win.
American David Holston (26/1/1986), a longtime member of JDA Dijon, did not get the job done at Lavrio Megabolt, but still rocked 13 points in the loss, 65-63.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League
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