19 September, 2017
06 May, 2018
23 Augusto Lima (ESP), 27 Sadiel Rojas (ESP)
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Timing - a closer look at UCAM Murcia

MIES, Switzerland (Basketball Champions League) – They say that timing is everything and UCAM Murcia is starting to look like a squad that has timed this season perfectly. Earlier in the season, Ovie Soko spoke about UCAM Murcia as a work in progress.

"As a team we are still growing and we definitely haven’t found all the answers yet but sometimes when a team finds all the answers from the start, they can hit a wall but we are still growing and that’s important."Ovie SokoOvie Soko

After finding all the answers against Iberostar Tenerife and man-handling Pinar Karsiyaka to reach the Final Four, UCAM Murcia are starting to look full-grown. Head Coach Ibon Navarro has a background in boxing as junior and is a coach that likes his team's to fight. He has a roster full of fighters now. In fact, when you look through the box scores and video, for all the well executed offensive sets, it's the hustle stats and momentum plays that stand out above all.

Charlon Kloof with the fighting spirit


For the season, UCAM Murcia have scored at 110 points per 100 possessions and given up 108 per 100 on the defensive end. Both of these numbers are around league average, as is their 49% effective field goal shooting (eFG%). They have an assist % of 57% (below average) and a turnover % (TOV%) of 14.4% (better than league average) - which doesn't really speak either way, to the style of play you see from UCAM Murcia. Where Coach Navarro's men do standout statistically, is on the glass and the improvements they have made since the Play-Offs began. Since the Round of Sixteen started against Iberostar Tenerife, UCAM have been significantly better on the defensive end - a Defensive Rating of 102 points per 100, shows a huge improvement. They have also been turning the ball over less - 13.9 TOV% - and shooting the ball better with an eFG% of 52%. Four Play-Offs games may be a small sample size but where they have been consistently strong all season, is rebounding. Look at the table below - you will see the stats of the best offensive rebounding team in the Final Four and the joint best, total rebounding % team in the competition.


Before the late transfer of Augusto Lima, UCAM were already an excellent rebounding team. Adding Augusto Lima - the best offensive rebounder in the competition during his time with Besiktas - was almost unfair. Ovie Soko still leads the club in rebounds per game at 7.2 RPG but if look at rebounds per 36 minutes, Kevin Tumba is battling it out for every one of his 10.8 RPG. Sadiel Rojas is also an outstanding rebounder at the small forward, recording 5.9 RPG.

When you watch Tumba and Lima rotate in and out of the front court, you see they both go about business in a similar way - they like to use their strength to get position on the weak-side and from there, react quicker to the flight of the ball. Neither Iberostar tenerife, nor Pinar Karsiyaka, ever managed to get to grips with Lima's energy and hustle on the glass

Lima's all-round defensive contribution has been huge. Besiktas never really looked the same after the big Brazillian left for China and it's not hard to see why. Lima has looked even more engaged since his return to UCAM Murcia. Plays like the block in this clip below, are Augusto Lima at his best - sprinting twenty feet from the weak-side to time his jump perfectly and block a lay up at the end of the quarter.

Kevin Tumba has been equally outstanding for all the same reasons. The Belgian international dives on the floor, blocks shots and goes after rebounds that he has no right to get.


It was defense that turned the tie against Iberostar Tenerife. To be more precise it was the adjustment from Coach Ibon Navarro to switch as many actions as possible. The plan worked to perfection and UCAM stymied one of the most fluid offensive teams of the last two seasons. It's one thing to design a game-plan to switch but you need the personnel to do it. UCAM Murcia certainly do have the personnel. Watch Tumba in this clip. He switches onto Ponitka, mirrors every jab step with his hands and feet, moves laterally to stay in front twice and contests the shot. 

Tumba provides the example in this video but there are also countless examples of Ovie Soko switching successfully. It's not just the frontline either. Sadiel Rojas leads back court on defense and will switch comfortably onto Point Guards and post players. Rojas is the human personification of the fighting spirit, that Ibon Navarro demands from his players. Watch the first clip below and you see him giving up five inches in height and about twenty kilograms. Rojas holds his ground and comes up with the steal. Rojas is also excellent at reading passing lanes using quick hands to rob his unsuspecting victims. 

The entire UCAM roster is full of opportunist thieves on the defensive end. Charlon Kloof is also an outstanding pocket picker and Augusto Lima is matching Rojas steal for steal since he arrived. When you put the puzzle together, you have a portrait of a team that has shot blockers and excellent rebounders in the front court and a back court that hustles and scraps. Numerous players can guard multiple positions and they have a coach that uses his squads versatility, to adjust and mix coverages. Forget the stats for the Regular Season, UCAM Murcia have arrived in the Play-Offs, as one of the toughest defensive teams you'll see.


Ovie Soko and Clevin Hannah lead the team in scoring at 12.9 and 12 PPG respectively and also have an excellent rapport - Hannah accounts for most of the assists that Soko receives. Hannah gets the majority of his work done in the pick-and-roll where his passing ability and shooting off the dribble, make him a very tough cover. Hannah's shooting numbers are extremely impressive too. The former Wichita State star is shooting 45.6% overall, including a ridiculous 47.7% from deep and 92.2% at the line. Hannah also leads the team in assists and clearly has the keys to Ibon Navarro's offense for good reason.

UCAM aren't one of the #BasketballCL's greatest 3-point shooting teams at 35% but they have enough guys that you can't afford to sleep on. Martin, Antelo and Oleson make up the final three of a deadly sniper squad, that all shoot over 40% from the great beyond. Sadiel Rojas isn't far behind on 38% either and if you only counted shots out of the corner, he'd likely be up there with Clevin Hannah. From that list, Brad Oleson is the one to watch. The man from Alaska scores in bunches and when he get's cooking, UCAM more often than not, end up building a healthy lead. Ibon Navarro is has designed some functional but also aesthetically pleasing X's and O's, to maximise his ability. This option out of UCAM Murcia's flow offense, is a great example. Murcia love to move the ball quickly from side to side, at the same time as running shooters off a myriad of down screens and staggers.

In Delia, Tumba, Lima and Soko, Murcia also have four guys that can hurt you in the paint. UCAM run this 'Horns' set to get lobs and deep post catches for them. Watch how they reverse roles for the shooter and second big, to draw help defenders out of the paint. From there, they lift out of the corners and set screens on the weak-side to distract the defense as they throw the lob.

Londoner Ovie Soko, is possibly the most important offensive cog in the machine. The GB international has been a constant feature in our highlight reels and team of the week awards. His ability to face-up and bully his way to the rack, or get trustworthy position and pass the ball out of the post, gives UCAM Murcia line-up flexibility and versatility. If you look at the five most efficient line-ups that UCAM Murcia have put out in the Play-Offs, Ovie Soko is present in four of them. In each case, partnered in the front court with Lima or Tumba at the Center - giving Soko the license to get involved on the perimeter or get to work down low.

# Lineup Team Efficiency PTS AST STL Made Three pointers MIN
1. URTASUN Alejandro - KLOOF Charlon - LIMA Augusto /
SOKO Ovie - BENITE Vitor
UCAM Murcia 42 36 6 4 4 14
2. URTASUN Alejandro - ANTELO Jose Angel - HANNAH Clevin /
DELIA Marcos - ROJAS Sadiel
UCAM Murcia 34 24 6 2 4 6
3. OLESON Brad - LIMA Augusto - SOKO Ovie /
BENITE Vitor - ROJAS Sadiel
UCAM Murcia 14 12 4 0 4 2
4. OLESON Brad - SOKO Ovie - TUMBA Kevin /
HANNAH Clevin - ROJAS Sadiel
UCAM Murcia 12 18 4 0 6 8
5. OLESON Brad - LIMA Augusto - SOKO Ovie /
HANNAH Clevin - ROJAS Sadiel
UCAM Murcia 12 14 2 6 2 12

This is a squad with individual weapons and a crafty coach, that has a lot of different ways to hurt you on the offensive end. It hasn't always translated to their most fluent basketball but so far, they have found the right timing, when it's mattered most.

Up Next

AEK!, EEK!...This is the Final Fours and there are no easy games ...... but this is certainly the draw that nobody wanted. A sold out OAKA, with 50 years of history behind it, will be like playing against six men. On paper, UCAM Murcia match up well with AEK and if they can make it into a basketball game, maybe their defensive strengths and ability to dominate on the glass could tell. That's a big if and possibly an even bigger maybe. UCAM Murcia will need all the veteran smarts and experience of guys like Brad Oleson and Sadiel Rojas if they are to impose their own rhythm and tempo on the game.