By Stefan Djordjevic / firstname.lastname@example.org
Lenovo Tenerife has established itself as an elite Basketball Champions League and for a reason. The Spaniards made it past the regular season every year and with the exception of the 2017-18 campaign, they also made it to the Final Eight teams every time.
They won the inaugural 2016-17 season, were the runner-ups in 2018-19, and are looking to get back to the top once again.
However, the competition in the upcoming Final Eight might be the strongest so far in BCL and Tenerife will have to be at 100% in each game.
In charge of that will primarily be head coach Txus Vidorreta who’s been the most successful coach in BCL up to date and the one season he left Tenerife, it was the 2017-18 campaign when the team had its worst run in the competition.
“We have to go game by game and be very competitive in the first one,” Vidorreta said and added.
“Every time, even though it seems like I’ve got more experience, every time we work harder, whether it’s my staff or myself. In the way we prepare games, after the games… Developing ideas that make our players more comfortable on both ends of the floor.”
However, there must always be a leader or two on the court and the Spanish squad has got that covered.
Marcelinho Huertas and Giorgi Shermadini lead the way with their experience and pick and roll plays which also open up ample space for Sasu Salin who’s been as deadly as ever from long range. A perfect trio of which every team in BCL is wary, near impossible to stop.
While Shermadini and Salin, as usual, do their jobs exemplary, Huertas was the story of the season, the reason being his contentious playmaking ability which recently put him up at or near the top of the all-time assists lists.
In the domestic league, Huertas jumped to the second spot all-time and is trailing behind none other than Pablo Laso who has logged an amazing number of 2896 throughout his playing years in Spain.
When it comes to BCL, Tenerife’s 37-year-old captain only joined the competition last season and he’s already near the Top 10 names.
He currently has a total of 202 assists in BCL and is 12 assists short of passing David Holston for the 10th place all-time and 19 away from Axel Julienfor the ninth.
Those facts shared, the Brazilian guard is arguably the best passer in BCL history and his assist ratio this season is 39.1 which means that roughly 4 in 10 Tenerife field goals come off one of his assists.
And he’s been spending only around 20 minutes on the floor on average. He might have to grind more than that in the upcoming duels and he knows it won’t be easy, as it wasn’t so far either.
“We’ve had solid games and we’ve had a few setbacks in both group phases. First against Sassari, then against Burgos. It’s been hard, we’ve played against very solid teams whom people give a chance at a title,” Huertas noted.
Tenerife is one of the three teams that reached the Final Eight and were in the competition since the inaugural season, along with ERA Nymburk and their first upcoming opponent SIG Strasbourg which has a fiery backcourt duo leading them.
Additionally, Tenerife is one of the three Spanish teams that reached the final phase along with Casademont Zaragoza and the reigning champion Hereda San Pablo Burgos.
In fact, Tenerife was pinned against Burgos in the Round of 16 group and they split the game with the former ending up as the first-placed. The two teams will face each other in the semifinals if both win their initial matchups.
It will be far from an easy path for Tenerife in this year’s Final Eight in Nizhny Novgorod but their experience, success, and leadership are more than enough to make them a very solid contender and perhaps even the favorite in what’s going to be an exciting end to the season.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League