Champions league TOP 16 L group is set

2022 01 21 00:15
Roko Lukoševičiaus photo

The Round of 16 starts on Tuesday, and Group L will see a rematch from last season's Final 8 in Nizhny Novgorod. SIG Strasbourg and Lenovo Tenerife advanced as Play-In winners, to join two group winners, Falco Szombathely and Rytas Vilnius.

Falco Szombathely

Points per game: Zoltan Perl 15.7
Rebounds per game: Akos Keller 8.3
Assists per game: Benedek Varadi 7.0
Steals per game: Szilard Benke 2.4
Blocks per game: Gyorgy Goloman 1.0

Tenerife are former champions from 2017, Strasbourg got to the Semi-Finals last season, while Falco Szombathely and Rytas Vilnius are searching for European glory to complement their stellar domestic records.

National champions of Hungary are putting the emphasis on "national." With 80 percent of their players coming from Hungary, they had the highest rate of home grown players in the Regular Season, with Boris Barac (Croatia) and Marvin Clark (USA) being the only international players.

The plan worked perfectly for coach Milos Konakov and the front office. Falco stormed through to win the group ahead of Nutribullet Treviso, VEF Riga and AEK, while getting elite production from their MVP candidate Zoltan Perl - 15.7 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game.

But he's not the only star of the team. Akos Keller is currently sharing the top of the leaderboard in BCL when it comes to rebounds per game, Benedek Varadi is second in assists per game, and Szilard Benke is number two in steals per game. No wonder their fans are always happy and traveling all over Europe to follow the black-and-yellow.

Rytas Vilnius

Points per game: Ivan Buva 16.2
Rebounds per game: Gytis Radzevicius 7.8
Assists per game: Speedy Smith 5.3
Steals per game: Arnas Butkevicius 2.2
Blocks per game: Maurice Ndour 1.3

On Sunday, Rytas lost to their arch rivals Zalgiris, which meant their massive 14-game winning streak came to an end. In fact, over the previous 20 games, Rytas went 19-1, with their only defeat being the double overtime thriller in Istanbul, against Besiktas Icrypex.

Coach Giedrius Zibenas knows what he's doing, and the players are buying in, happy to adapt to their role within the team. Ivan Buva is the star man in the middle, MVP of November in the BCL, and Arnas Butkevicius is one of only two men who have recorded a triple-double in BCL history. With Speedy Smith, they've got one of the best passers around, and advanced stats confirm they are a strong team.

Their 100.9 defensive rating is the fourth best in BCL, they turn the ball over just 14.8 of time, also fourth best mark among the sweet 16, and they steal 12 percent of opponent's possessions, third best in BCL this season. Rytas are a fun team to watch, especially when the stands are full in their big arena in Vilnius.

Lenovo Tenerife

Points per game: Giorgi Shermadini 14.5
Rebounds per game: Giorgi Shermadini 6.7
Assists per game: Marcelinho Huertas 6.1
Steals per game: Aaron Doornekamp 1.2
Blocks per game: Giorgi Shermadini 0.7

Group favorites? Well, after surviving that three-game long drama against Pinar Karsiyaka, coach Txus Vidorreta will certainly feel like he has the best team in the entire BCL. And not just this season, because Season Six version of Lenovo Tenerife looks almost perfect.

They survived the early season injury struggles with Shermadini missing two months of action, and they added pieces such as Kyle Wiltjer and Joan Sastre to send them to another level. Wiltjer could be the man they go to in close game situations, Sastre already had that role against Karsiyaka in Game 3.

With those two closers, Tenerife will be out to prove a point. Facing Falco Szombathely and Rytas Vilnius will be a new experience, but against SIG Strasbourg, there will be some added motivation. Marcelinho Huertas, Sasu Salin, Giorgi Shermadini, all the others - they still remember the defeat to SIG in Nizhny Novgorod. Circle that matchup, it's coming up in France on Gameday 2.