With the climax of the season still ahead of us, Euroleague Basketball continues to honor the individuals who made this season such an exciting one. All five members of the 2020-21 All-7DAYS EuroCup Second Team played major roles for their respective teams this season. The list includes Mantas Kalnietis of Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, Jaka Blazic of Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, Anthony Brown of Boulogne Metropolitans 92, John Brown of UNICS Kazan and Vince Hunter of Virtus Segafredo Bologna. Earlier this week, Aleksander Balcerowski of Herbalife Gran Canaria was named the 7DAYS EuroCup Rising Star Trophy winner, while the identities of the five players on the 2020-21 All-7DAYS EuroCup First Team were revealed on Tuesday. This season’s 7DAYS EuroCup MVP will be named on Friday.
Mantas Kalnietis, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
The 34-year-old former EuroCup champion is in his sixth season in the competition. Kalnietis was the conductor of the Lokomotiv attack that ranked second-best in scoring and was on the brink of the semifinals. He topped all EuroCup players this season with 7.1 assists per game and had the sixth-best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.72). Playing a team-high 28:09 minutes per game, Kalnietis posted an average PIR of 13.4, scored 8.7 points per game and contributed 2.8 rebounds. He shined in a pair of do-or-die situations with some of his career-best performances. He had 21 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals for a career-best PIR 30 in the Top 16 finale as Lokomotiv clinched a place in the playoffs. He scored a career-high 23 points with 10 assists and 2 steals in a victory in Game 2 of the quarterfinals, which forced a deciding Game 3 in which Lokomotiv was eventually ousted by the eventual finalist UNICS Kazan.
Jaka Blazic, Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana
Blazic had a career season playing for the team he grew up with. Blazic was the competition’s top scorer (19.1 ppg) and led all players in the 2020-21 EuroCup in average PIR (19.5) while pushing Cedevita Olimpija to within seconds of a place in the quarterfinals. While averaging the third-most minutes played (31:18), Blazic had eight games with a PIR of at least 23, more than any other player this season. The Cedevita Olimpja guard is the only player this season who had five games of 25 or more points. He did so by knocking down 2.6 three-point shots per game, which was fourth-best for the season, on 46.6% long-range shooting. Blazic was also second on the team with 4.9 rebounds and averaged 2.3 assists. None of Blazic’s performances was more memorable than Top 16 Round 2 against Buducnost VOLI Podgorica when he had 30 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists to earn the weekly MVP award with a PIR 41, which tied for the competition’s best all season. At age 30 and in his fourth EuroCup season, Blazic has been selected to the All-EuroCup team for the first time in his career.
Anthony Brown, Boulogne Metropolitans 92
Playing in his first full season in the competition, Brown was the leader of a Metropolitans team that overcame a slow start before going on to reach the quarterfinals. Metropolitans had a run of 10 wins in 11 games, which lifted the team to first-place finishes in both its regular season and Top 16 group, before getting swept by Herbalife Gran Canaria in the quarterfinals. Brown was Metropolitans’ top scorer (13.6 ppg) and made a team-high 46.9% of his attempts behind the three-point arc. He had more rebounds (85) than any other Metropolitans player this season, good for a 4.7 average, and ranked second on the team in assists (2.3 apg.). Only three players this season averaged more minutes (30:22) than the 28-year-old Brown, who scored between 9 and 19 points in 16 of his 18 appearances and made at least one three-point shot in all but one game this season. This is Brown’s first All-EuroCup honor.
John Brown, UNICS Kazan
It has been quite a debut EuroCup season for Brown, who helped propel UNICS to a place in the EuroCup Finals while earning All-EuroCup honors. Brown has been a force off the bench and an energy-booster for UNICS all season. He has just five starts in 22 appearances, but the 29-year-old Brown has played the second-most minutes (572) in the entire competition and only one player has grabbed more total rebounds this season than Brown’s 137; he has pulled down 5 or more boards 16 times this season. Brown ranks fourth in steals (1.9 spg.) and is fifth in the competition in offensive rebounds (2.6 orpg.). The UNICS big man has posted 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists en route to the EuroCup Finals and his best performance of the season came at the most opportune time when he collected 20 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals in a road win over Virtus Segafredo Bologna in Game 3 of the semifinals, which also earned him weekly MVP honors. Brown’s impressive premier campaign in the competition led to a place on the All-EuroCup Second Team.
Vince Hunter, Virtus Segafredo Bologna
Hunter played a huge part in getting Virtus to the semifinals by winning each of the first 19 games. A fixture on the highlight reels all seasons long, Hunter led the EuroCup this season in PIR-per-40 minutes (31.4). Coming off the bench in each of his 21 appearances, and averaging 17:09 minutes, Hunter led Virtus in rebounding (4.6 rpg.), posted 9.8 points on 62.9% two-point shooting while knocking down 6 of 10 three-pointers for the season, and also had 1.4 assists and 1.1. steals. However, the 26-year-old especially elevated his level of play in the second part of the season. The Virtus big man was chosen as the EuroCup Top 16 MVP after he averaged 13.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and an average PIR 20.7 in that phase of the competition. Hunter recorded PIRs of 27 or better in four out of six games in the Top 16 and scored in double figures in three of his team’s five playoff games, averaging a PIR of 16.3 in the semifinals. This is Hunter’s first All-EuroCup selection in his second season in the competition.