You could tell that Hassan Martin meant serious business midway through the second quarter on Tuesday night, when he took a nice bounce pass from Suad Sehovic inside the paint, found a defender in his path and made him irrelevant by launching into a ferocious dunk for one of the week’s most memorable highlight-reel plays.
At the time of that spectacular slam, Martin and his Buducnost VOLI Podgorica teammates were trailing by 8 points against Dolomiti Energia Trento, looking very much as though they were heading for a seventh consecutive loss to leave their slender hopes of advancing into the Top 16 hanging by the thinnest of threads. The fact that Buducnost came back into the game, eventually celebrating a life-preserving road win, owes an awful lot to Martin – and not only because his big dunk helped spark a strong second-quarter surge which kept his team in contention after Trento had threatened to run away with the game before halftime.
All night, Martin was a tower of strength inside the paint, doing everything his team needed and much more. He scored points, prevented the opponents from doing so, grabbed rebounds, snared steals and finished up with a remarkable all-round effort of 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 blocked shots for a PIR of 29. Four of those categories were career-highs (only rebounding failed to reach his previous best) for the 23-year-old American power forward, who has taken the 7DAYS EuroCup by storm during his first season in the competition. Martin has now scored in double figures and recorded a PIR of 15 or more in his last six games, also leading the competition in blocked shots (2.0 per game) and ranking fifth in rebounding (7.6 per game) by the end of Tuesday’s contests.
His efforts against Trento underlined the impression that this is a young man with a big future. For now, his focus is on attempting to give Buducnost an improbable passage into the Top 16: "We are going to try to win our remaining three games," he said after the game. "It's going to be hard to qualify for the Top 16, but we're not going to give up and if we play like we did in the second half, we've got a chance."
And even if Buducnost falls short in that quest, if Martin keeps on playing the way he did on Tuesday night, he’s surely got a chance of going a long way. A very long way.