By Stefan Djordjevic/ [email protected]
The Basketball Champions League is nearing the end of its sixth season and traditionally the seasonal awards will be announced during the Final Four.
The honors handed down will include the Star Lineups, MVP of the season, Best Young Player, and the Coach of the Season. Naturally, an MVP of the Final Four will be named as well following the conclusion of the tournament.
That said, the MVP of the season might be the most anticipated award of the bunch and there are usually quite a bit of names in contention for it. This year has been no exception.
However, despite the seemingly uncertain outcome of the award, a few interesting facts surfaced throughout the competition history. Some would call it tradition going to their favor while some may end up fearing it as a curse.
For the past five years of the Basketball Champions League, all of the MVPs were handed to American players – Jordan Theodore, Manny Harris, Tyrese Rice, Keith Langford, and Bonzie Colson.
Deservedly so but most of them probably ended up not being happy with the final outcome of the season. That’s right. Only one of them, Manny Harris, finished the Basketball Champions League campaign as the champion.
Harris was the MVP of the Season back in 2018 and AEK went on to beat Monaco in an exciting Final. The MVP of the Final Four goes to a player from the winning team and Mike Green was the one to grab it for AEK.
Speaking of the Final Four MVPs, Americans also prevail in that category as well. Kevin Punter and Thad McFadden won the award also next to Green while Marius Grigonis and Vitor Benite managed to steal two of them in 2017 and 2021.
Making the jump to this year, will history repeat itself?
While there is some diversity among the MVP candidates that traditionally come from the Final Four participants, four of them – Chris Johnson, Jonah Radebaugh, Justin Simon, and Joe Ragland – are Americans.
Giorgi Shermadini (Georgian) and Chima Moneke (Nigerian) are in the race as they try to challenge that tradition. Shermadini is also trying to become the first center to win the MVP award and he is, in fact, by the numbers, the second pick for the award.
He is ranked second among the candidates in PIR and rebounds while also being among the top five in scoring. But if numbers are to go by, then Chris Johnson will take the cake as the leader in scoring and PIR. The fact that Hapoel Holon has reached the Final Four for the first time will also go in his favor.
It will be interesting to watch the two as Tenerife and Hapoel Holon go against each other in the semifinals. That duel itself is an exciting matchup of a traditional power vs an underdog challenger that has refused to give up. It will also feature two of the best point guards the competition has ever seen – Marcelinho Huertas and Joe Ragland.
If we go by the chances, rankings and predictions, history might repeat itself indeed. Chris Johnson would win the MVP of the Season but Tenerife would advance as the favorite, automatically sealing another case of an American MVP not going all the way.
However, if anything is a given in basketball, it is that nothing is certain and Hapoel Holon was the team that embodied that throughout the whole season. Perhaps Johnson and Hapoel can do it once again and make competition history in more than one way, breaking the curse.