Dreams of back-to-back still alive: Hereda San Pablo Burgos go from -12 to the Final
NIZHNY NOVGOROD (Russia) - For the first time in the history of the Basketball Champions League, the title holders made it back to the title game. Hereda San Pablo Burgos outlasted SIG Strasbourg 81-70, erasing an early 12-point deficit to end the French squad's Cinderella run in the Semi-Finals.
Burgos move on to play against Pinar Karsiyaka in the Final in Russia, SIG will also have a chance of making this a back-to-back event. Last season, JDA Dijon finished third, Strasbourg will try to make it two straight podium place finishes for the French teams.
Turning point: Probably the missed three-pointer by Brandon Jefferson at the fourth quarter buzzer in the Quarter-Finals. Strasbourg did advance to the Semis, but their overtime work against Lenovo Tenerife on Thursday was clearly felt in the second half of the game on Friday, just 24 hours later.
Despite their amazing start to the game which saw them build up a 25-13 lead, Strasbourg could not match Burgos' energy in the third and fourth quarter. Thad McFadden's three-pointer to end the third was much more than just a shot that said 63-57 on the scoreboard - all the momentum went champs' way, 11-2 run to open Q4 was all it took to take the air out of the building in front of 1093 fans in the stands.
Stats don't lie: Basketball is a sport for big guys. Hereda San Pablo Burgos picked up 18 offensive rebounds, won the paint points 44-28, and the depth was evident with a 39-22 advantage in the bench points.
Game hero: Captains usually love the biggest stages. Vitor Benite is a prime example, he followed up his 26-point Quarter-Final with another team-high of 16 points in the Semi-Finals. Jasiel Rivero also had 16 on the night, Alex Renfroe had a bizarre stat-line of 3 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds - 5 of them offensive. Not bad for a point guard.
Bottom line: Burgos are a win away from making history in the BCL, while SIG Strasbourg are only starting to take over. This inspiring season should be the stepping stone for something even bigger in the years to come, don't expect them to tank the Third Place Game on Sunday.