By Stefan Djordjevic/ email@example.com
The Basketball Champions League is entering the final stage of the season with eight teams left to fight it out for the trophy.
U-BT Cluj Napoca, MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, BAXI Manresa, Unicaja, Hapoel U-NET Holon, SIG Strasbourg, Lenovo Tenerife, and Tofas are the names that have secured a ticket for the quarterfinals and the draw has treated the fans with very interesting matchups.
The quarterfinals will start on April 5th this season and will be played in a best-of-three format with, of course, the higher-seeded teams having the home-court advantage.
Eurohoops has taken a look at the bracket and introduces the most important facts to know before tuning in to the action.
After Cluj – Ludwigsburg, Manresa – Unicaja, and Hapoel Holon-Strasbourg, the honors to close the opening duels will go to Tenerife and Tofas.
Story of the Season
The dominance of the Spanish teams in the Basketball Champions League was already mentioned in the analysis of the Manresa-Unicaja matchup, and the team that was leading that charge is none other than Tenerife.
Tenerife was the first-ever champion of the competition and, although they didn’t get to the throne again, they were always present in the final stages.
They’ve had one run to the Round of 16, three times to the quarterfinals, and once finished as the runner-up. No other team has reached the quarterfinals more than Tenerife in the competition history.
And the squad coached by Txus Vidorreta, who also coached the team during the two runs to the Final Four, will try to make it happen once again and reach the long-awaited title of the champions.
Tenerife had some ups and downs early on in the season but it’s safe to say that they’ve figured it out completely.
The team had to go through Pinar Karsiyaka in the Play-In series which was a close battle but after that, it’s been a smooth sail.
Tenerife dominated the Round of 16 in Group L with a perfect 6-0 record and they will go into the quarterfinals with full confidence, especially after getting a very rare win over Real Madrid in the Spanish league.
The momentum is on their side but Tofas shouldn’t be underestimated.
They’re only in the second season in BCL but managed to challenge the traditional powerhouses and the lineup they’ve gathered for this year has a number of players with the potential to take over the games individually.
Tofas may not have been as convincing as Tenerife this year but the Turks still went to the Round of 16 directly and managed to pull through to the quarterfinals despite tough games against Manresa and Darussafaka.
If it’s of any value, both Tenerife and Tofas had some similar opponents this season. Both teams swept Strasbourg in different stages of BCL while they also both struggled against Manresa.
Tenerife, though, definitely comes into the game as a clear favorite.
The core of Tenerife’s offensive system has been established for a while now and it has worked wonders this season.
Tenerife has scored 1.17 points per possession, the best ratio of any team and they have scored the most total points, although their average tally is slightly lower.
The reason for that is that they’ve had the fewest possessions per game in the league this season at 68.7.
That goes to prove the way Vidorreta likes his team to play. With the medium tempo, using every second on the clock with proper plays and movements, and getting the best possible shot up.
They lead the league in two-point percentage and are among the top five in three-point shooting.
Tofas’ percentage is fairly behind but, in the end, both teams score around 80 points per game.
However, Tofas has also a great defensive side. They have conceded 80 or more points in just two of their twelve away games in BCL.
They have also allowed their opponents to score only 25.6 field goals per game, the fewest of any team.
And that defense leads to offense. Tofas scores the most points from turnovers in the league at 20.7 per game.
The problem is that Tenerife actually bolsters great assists to turnover ratio and their game is rather safe, so Tofas might be quite challenged to force any mistakes.
Leaders and X-Factor(s)
The reason for such security among Tenerife’s ranks is that the core of the team has been together long enough, they are experienced and the most important part – led by Marcelinho Huertas.
Definitely one of the best playmakers the competition has seen and he might end up officially as the best ever if he continues writing out the story as he did so far.
His role is crucial but partnered up with Giorgi Shermadini and Sasu Salin, the triangle is foolproof.
The pick and roll between Huertas and Shermadini while Salin awaits to drain a three-pointer on the side is well-known to everybody but nobody has managed to stop it yet unless the trio itself shows up with a bad game.
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The X-factor will go to Kyle Wiltjer. There are a few other players that can step up, of course, but the Canadian has stolen the spotlight so many times in BCL before joining Tenerife that he is almost expected to create a sizzling show.
On the other side, Tomislav Zubcic is the leader of this Tofas squad and he became the main role of the team ever since he joined in 2020. He was the key part of the puzzle last season and the team instantly changed course for the better with him on board.
He’s been doing a great job this year as well and he got backup from Tyler Ennis, Paco Cruz, Elgin Cook.
The X-factor, however, goes to Jeremy Simmons who’s been a role recently but also a shoutout to Kasey Shepherd who could explode and remind everybody of his days in Nizhny Novgorod.