BSCA Take-Off Trophy in Charleroi, Belgium - AEK Athens, medi Bayreuth, Spirou Charleroi and Tsmoki Minsk in action on Sep. 9th, 2017

AEK Athens (GRE) vs. medi Bayreuth (GER): 90-85

What a surprise to see so few basketball fans at the Spiroudome in Charleroi, Belgium on Sep. 9th! Entrance was free but, despite a group of six enthusiastic members of the AEK  Athens' fan club from London sitting and cheering in one corner of the arena and a small group of five to ten supporters of medi Bayreuth behind the bench of the Basketball Bundesliga team, not many people had showed up around noon on the second day of the BSCA Take-Off Trophy competition. Too bad for the hoops fans and observers who have missed some exceptional basketball action!

The first game of the day was underway when I entered the Spiroudome. I could follow this game very closely since my son and I were able to sit right behind the bench of medi Bayreuth and could listen to the pep talks and excellent analyses of Head Coach Raoul Korner. Korner's squad finished the first quarter on top by the closest margin. Led by Germany's international point guard Bastian Doreth (6'0", born in 1989, see picture on the right), medi Bayreuth played quickly and proved to be a very athletic team. AEK Athens with their US players Kelsey Barlow (guard, 6'5", born in 1991) and Delroy James (forward, 6'8", born in 1987) played seriously and managed to control the game in the second quarter. The Greek side was in front at the end of the first half: 42-40.

The AEK players, coached by Thanasis Papahatzis, came back on the floor with even better intentions after the break. Thanks to the great presence of their American duo as well as the effciency of key players like Dusan Sakota (forward, 6'11", born in 1986, see pic on the left), Chinemelu Elonu (center, 6'9", born in 1987), Dimitrios Mavroeiedis (center, 6'10", born in 1985) or Adin Atic (forward, 6'7", born in 1997) the Greek side was able to build a nice advantage despite great efforts made by medi's US forward De'Mon Brooks (6'7", born in 1992). AEK Athens managed to dig a rather large gap by the end of the third quarter: a 15-point lead for the Greek capital's squad after 30 minutes of play (68-53). Egyptian international player Assem Marei (forward, 6'9", born in 1992) of medi Bayreuth was already fouled out.

In the last quarter, the German side of Austrian coach Raoul Korner could count on Steve Wachalski (forward, 6'8", born in 1983), pretty efficient from long range in this game (4 three-pointers). The experience of medi Bayreuth players like Venezuelian national team guard John Cox (6'5", born in 1981) or experienced Ohioan small forward Nate Linhart (6'7", born in 1986, see picture here above) as well as the strength of German big man Andreas Seiferth (center, 6'10", born in 1989) paid off and the German team came back in the race in the middle of the last quarter. Nevertheless, AEK's strong men re-took the control of the game. Barlow, Atic, Elonu and Sakota kept scoring and this allowed AEK younger players to come off the bench at the end of the game. After 40 minutes in this game, the scoreboard of the Spiroudome eventually showed 90-85 for the Greek side.

Score evolution: 21-22, 42-40, 68-53 and 90-85.

Best scorers:
AEK: Vasilis Xanthopoulos 1; Dusan Sakota 17; Dimitrios Moraitis 8; Adin Atic 7; Giannoulis Larentzakis 10; Kelsey Barlow 22; Dimitrios Mavroiedis 10; Delroy James 6; Chinemelu Elonu 9.
medi Bayreuth: James Robinson 5; John Cox 4; Nate Linhart 10; Bastian Doreth 5; Andreas Seiferth 12; Steve Wachalski 16; Robin Amaize 7; De'Mon Brooks 18; Gabe York 4; Assem Marei 4.
Proximus Spirou Charleroi (BEL) vs. Tsmoki Minsk (BLR): 100-81

The second men's game of the day was in fact the first one at home for Spirou Charleroi. On that occasion, the Spirou squad of Head Coach Brian Lynch welcomed the champions of Belarus, Tsmoki Minsk, including two young US players who have been freshly hired: Sekou Wiggs (point guard, 6'4", born in 1994, ex-Idaho in NCAA, see picture on the left side) and David Kravisch (center, 6'10", born in 1992, ex-California). With a whole bunch of Belarus' national team members like Aliaksandr Semianiuk (center, born in 1993), Siarhei Vabishchevich (guard, born in 1988) or Viachaslau Korzh (guard, born in 1986), Tsmoki Minsk served as an interesting sparring partner for Spirou Charleroi. The very athletic team from Belarus won the national championship title for the ninth time in a row last season.

Spirou Charleroi started the game in a very serious manner and Rasko Katic (center, 6'10", born in 1980), transferred from BC Telenet Ootende last summer, played tough in offense as well as in defense. He and new American players Keaton Grant (shooting guard, 6'4", born in 1986), Jack Gibbs (guard, 6'0", born in 1995), Seth Tuttle (forward, 6'8", born in 1992) and Scott Thomas (small forward, 6'6", born in 1989) boosted their Spirou mates to take a first large lead by the end of the first quarter: 29-16. Very few supporters (400 maximum) had shown up at the Spiroudome to attend this very convincing game played by the local team.

In the second quarter, the men of Coach Brian Lynch continued to do well despite great effort made by Tsmoki's Bosnian player Filip Adamovic (point guard, 6'0", born in 1988). They even digged a larger gap and quickly built a 20-point advantage (45-25), mainly thanks to the great presence of Keaton Grant, Seth Tuttle and Scott Thomas in offense. Experienced guard Aliaksandr Kudrautsau (shooting guard, 6'3", born in 1980, also a member of the Belarusian national team) and former Swedish national team member Chris Czerapowicz (guard, 6'7", born in 1991, ex-Davidson in NCAA), especially efficient from long and mid-range, were able to reboost their Tsmoki mates for a while and this allowed the visitors to reduce the gap by half-time reached under the following score: 48-37.

After the break, the Spirou squad got surprised by exceptional plays displayed by their Belarusian guests who came close at 48-45. Spirou Charleroi played quicker under the lead of both top-performing players Alexandre Libert (guard, 6'5", born in 1990) and Jack Gibbs. The Belgian team finally outscored their Belarusian guests 27-18 in the third quarter, with great presence of Seth Tuttle and Amaury Gorgemans (center, 7'0", born in 1992) inside for Spirou. A few calls by referees rather in favour of Spirou Charleroi made Tsmoki Minsk's coach Aleksandr Krutikov quite unhappy.

Spirou Charleroi always looked able to control the fourth quarter. Spirou center Amaury Gorgemans showed all his potential in the second half, even going for an amazing dunk after a fastbreak situation, and helped his US team mates Scott Thomas and Seth Tuttle (also grabbing crucial rebounds) in their succesful attempt to kill the game. Alex Libert eventually scored the 100th point for the local team right before the end of the game. Final score: 100-81. Very interesting result when you know that both teams could meet again at a later stage in the FIBA Europe Cup this season...

Score evolution: 29-16, 48-37, 75-55 and 100-81.

Best scorers:
Spirou: Alexandre Libert 10; Ioann Iarochevitch 6; Seth Tuttle 17; Scott Thomas 19; Jack Gibbs 9; Amaury Gorgemans 12; Rasko Katic 11; Dorian Marchant 5; Keaton Grant 11.
Tsmoki Minsk: N/A
(Pictures: Bert Larsimont;;;; AP College Basketball and

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