De Jesus, Marquinhos, Parodi dominate Groups A and D in BCL Americas
MIAMI (United States) - The Phase 3 of BCL Americas group play for Group A and Group D was highlighted by Real Esteli finally topping Titanes for the first time in three tries and last season's finalist, Flamengo, remaining unbeaten.
While potentially labeling Real Esteli and Flamengo as two championship contenders – alongside Group B's Quimsa and Sao Paulo, Group C's San Lorenzo – it's important not to forget the stars that have brought them into contention.
We know Brandon Robinson leads Quimsa and Jose Vildoza is the go-to-man for San Lorenzo, but who starred for Real Esteli and Flamengo in the final window? And who else in the two groups was able to make a name for themselves?
Here are the three stars to highlight after last week's games:
Jezreel De Jesus (Real Esteli)
It's no secret who guided the Nicaraguan basketball club in their matchups vs. Caballos and Titanes. While Renaldo Balkman and Javier Mojica had their ups and downs, De Jesus was a consistent force as he dropped 28 points on 8-of-13 shooting against Caballos and 23 points and eight rebounds on Titanes.
De Jesus was efficient from all areas of the floor, but his six 3-pointers in two games and activity on the glass for someone that stands at just 6-foot-1 shows how versatile and skilled he is. Most importantly, De Jesus committed just a single turnover, which is impressive for someone who has such a high usage rate on offense.
De Jesus seemed to be on a mission to prove himself after an ugly five-point, four-turnover outing vs. Titanes in the second window, and he certainly did so.
The 6-foot-9, 36-year-old small forward came into last week following what was his worst game in BCL Americas play. He scored just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting and posted a -4 +/- in 30 minutes of work vs. Instituto – the last place team in Group D – on March 8.
Like De Jesus, Sousa put that performance behind him to post two monstrous showings. Against Minas, Sousa scored 17 points, dished out five assists and had an efficiency rating of 16. In the next game vs. Instituto, Sousa put up 15 points in only 19 minutes (!).
The forward could be more active on the glass and could limit his 3-point shooting, but his size and playmaking skills on the wing is incredibly difficult to match up with. Even being a threat from beyond the 3-point line provides more spacing for Rafael Hettsheimeir and Yago Santos and benefits their offensive sets.
Luciano Parodi (Minas)
Parodi was limited greatly by Flamengo in Minas' second game – 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-10 from 3 – but his performance vs. Instituto on Wednesday was so superb we had to carve out a spot on the list for him.
The 5-foot-10 point guard scored 21 points, dished out seven assists and notched four steals on his way to a 27 efficiency rating. Parodi was truly remarkable and helped lead Minas to an 88-80 win that kept them out of the basement of Group D.
If Parodi can start hitting his free throws consistently and shoot a better percent from 3, he can be a real force in bracket play. Add in his constant defensive energy, and Minas is no slouch regardless of their current record.