Where we left off: Casademont Zaragoza
ZARAGOZA (Spain) - You know the 2019-20 Basketball Champions League Final 8 tips off on September 30 but it's been so long since play was suspended that you can barely remember pre-hiatus events in the competition? Don't worry, we got you covered!
Casademont Zaragoza take on fellow Spanish side Iberostar Tenerife in the third Quarter-Finals clash, with the winner advancing to the Semi-Finals of the Athens Final Eight - here's everything you need to refresh your memory on how Zaragoza got to this point:
What Did Zaragoza's Play Look Like Before the Hiatus?
- The standout feature of Zaragoza's style of play in their maiden BCL campaign was that they have a multitude of shot creators and a different player could -- and did -- step up on any given night to lead the team in scoring. The fact they had no less than five players averaging double digits in scoring and six guys averaging double digits in PER, is a reflection of that approach.
- Dylan Ennis averaged 12.4 points and 4.4 assists per game but scoring was such a collective task that three more players -- Nicolas Brussino, DJ Seeley and Jason Thompson -- each averaged between 11.2 and 11.5 points per game.
- Zaragoza led the league in defensive rebounding with 29.3 per game (albeit their defensive rebounding rate of 69.2 percent was sixth in the league) and they were the second-leading rebounding team overall in the league (behind ERA Nymburk) as they averaged 41.9 boards per game.
- The Spanish team's superiority on the defensive glass was part of the excellent package they showed on that end of the floor as they posted the fourth-best defensive rating in the league, 101.4 points per 100 possessions (taking into account only figures up until the Round of 16.
- Zaragoza's defensive prowess becomes even more evident when we take a look at their opponents' field goal percentages: they held opponents to just 46.8 percent shooting from two-point range (second-best in the league behind ERA Nymburk) and to 31.9 percent from beyond the arc (third-best, behind Nymburk and Iberostar Tenerife).
- By contrast, and although Zaragoza averaged a very solid 81.4 points per game, they had their struggles on the offensive end as their effective field goal percentage was 51 percent, which ranks them only 13th among the 16 teams that made the Play-Offs. Zaragoza shot only 32.9 percent from three-point range, which places them in 24th place among the 32 teams that took part in the Regular Season.
What Had Zaragoza Achieved Up Until March?
Zaragoza started off by losing half of their first eight games in Group D but finished the Regular Season on a 6-game winning streak that propelled them to first place in the group on a 10-4 record. Their biggest win was undoubtedly the 105-73 triumph at JDA Dijon in Week 12, a result which ultimately decided that Zaragoza would finish top and Dijon second in the group. The Spanish team's worst loss came at the hands of Neptunas Klaipeda on the road, 91-73 in Week 4 action.
Round of 16
Zaragoza won both games against Lietkabelis, who took fourth place in Group A, albeit it was not as easy an affair as the 2-0 series sweep suggests. In Game 1 at home, the Spanish team pulled away late in the second quarter and reached a 76-67 win as Dylan Ennis with his 14 points led four Zaragoza players in double digits. In Game 2 in Lithuania, Lietkabelis led for most of the night but a second-half shooting exhibition by Nicolas Brussino lifted the visitors to a 90-88 victory. The Argentinian international had 21 points on 8 of 10 from the floor, 5 steals, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
What Will Stay the Same? What's New?
There is an inevitable change to Zaragoza's style of play as Diego Ocampo has taken the reins as the new head coach, replacing Porfirio Fisac who had imposed a very distinctive approach during his tenure.
That change however might not be as abrupt as one would expect, since the Aragon club went to great lengths to make as few changes as possible to the roster, even bringing back for example DJ Seeley and Jason Thompson, who had departed Zaragoza in March due to the pandemic.
Dylan Ennis might assume more of a playmaking that scoring role after moving to the point guard spot from the two-guard position, as young star Carlos Alocen who started at point guard completed his transfer to Real Madrid.
Shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who is coming off an excellenst 2019-20 season with fellow Final 8 contenders JDA Dijon, alongside forward Sagaba Konate and youngster Jaime Fernandez are the only truly new additions to a roster that otherwise maintains a remarkable continuity.