Buducnost VOLI Podgorica produced one of the finest defensive displays so far this season to stun reigning champ Real Madrid 73-60 on Friday night, and one player who must have particularly enjoyed making a major contribution was Coty Clarke.
The American forward has played in every game so far this season for Buducnost, and this was easily his best yet. Clarke claimed his first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague double-double, with 12 points and 12 rebounds, including 9 on the defensive end, along with a steal and a blocked shot.
That gave Clarke a personal-best performance index rating of 25, edging out the PIR of 24 from just the second game of his EuroLeague career, when he wore the uniform of UNICS Kazan against Brose Bamberg in October 2016.
As he reflects on his biggest EuroLeague win to date, Clarke could be forgiven for thinking back on that game on Germany, because with 20 seconds left in it, he was felled with a knee injury that required surgery. He missed the next 14 games, stopping dead the early momentum he had built with his outstanding performance at Bamberg.
Following that season, having left UNICS for another Russian team, Avtodor Saratov, Clarke may have wondered whether he would get another chance to play in Europe’s elite competition ever again. But then Buducnost came calling, providing another chance for Clarke to prove himself in the EuroLeague following a debut season spoiled by injury.
He has taken his second opportunity well, playing every game and putting up some strong numbers while averaging 7.6 points and 4.5 rebounds and shooting 43.3% on three-pointers. But it was against the mighty Real Madrid on Friday night that Clarke truly shone, showing that he is ready to make his mark at the top of European basketball once again. And this time, he’s aiming to stay there.