How they got to the Final 8: Hereda San Pablo Burgos
BURGOS (Spain) - The reigning BCL champions, Hereda San Pablo Burgos, will go up against Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon in the fourth Quarter-Final of the Final 8, on May 6. Here's a look at what helped the Spanish team reach the season-ending tournament in Nizhny Novgorod.
What is special about Hereda San Pablo Burgos?
- You don't need advanced stats to tell you that the reigning champs are a very, very good team, but there is one area where they have truly excelled through the course of this season, and that is defense. Burgos have the best defensive rating in the league, giving up only 102.5 points per 100 possessions. To put that into context, five of the other Quarter-Finalists, including Hapoel Holon, give up 109 or more points per 100 possessions.
- This is a mighty impressive defensive feat for Burgos and it is even reflected in their absolute figures, if you consider that they gave up only 75.5 points per game through the season so far, despite the fact they played five overtime periods over the first 12 games.
- Burgos owe their defensive prowess in large part to the fact that they contest almost every opponent's two-point shot attempt as if it were the last shot of the Final. So the champs hold opponents to just 46 percent shooting from inside the arc, and they are - by far - the best team in the league in that aspect.
- So the champions are showing some stifling defense and this signals a shift from last season, when they were better on offense than on the defensive end. Burgos have still, of course, a very productive offense but they are no longer the best team in terms of offensive efficiency, as they have now dropped to fifth place. They average 114.3 points per 100 possessions, down from 124 points per 100 possessions last year (prior to September's Final 8).
- There is one thing that hasn't changed about Burgos's offense since last year though, and that is how willing and efficient they are in sharing the ball. Their assist rate of 20.9 is virtually the same with Tenerife's, who are leading the league with an assist rate of 21, so you can argue that Burgos share top spot with their fellow Spanish team. In absolute numbers, Burgos average 22.2 assists per game.
- There is one offensive category where Burgos are the sole league leaders, and it's possibly a crucial one: the reigning champions are averaging a league-high two-point field goal percentage of 59.5 percent, and there are actually only two other Final 8 teams (Tenerife and Karsiyaka) that shoot at over 55 percent from inside the arc.
The 2020-21 Hereda San Pablo Burgos highlights
Burgos suffered a shock defeat at Filou Oostende in the season opener, their first loss since being crowned 2020 BCL champions, but went on to win the next five games in Group H and won the group ahead of Happy Casa Brindisi. They defeated the Italian team by 22 points at home and then won 90-86 at Brindisi on the final gameday to clinch top spot.
Burgos jumped to a 3-0 start in Group J, including a 101-79 victory over Tenerife on gameday 2, but lost to Igokea in Week 4 and then suffered an 89-60 defeat at Tenerife on the final day, their heaviest loss since they joined the BCL. Burgos therefore finished in second place in the group, on a 4-2 record.
The last shot
🥵 Perfect timing for a season-high! Vitor Mr Consistency Benite has been in double digits in all games this season, and his 19PTS v Igokea give @SanPabloBurgos another trip to #BasketballCL Final 8! pic.twitter.com/2SYrG0r2cL— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) April 1, 2021
Burgos are essentially the same team (the only addition to the roster is Maksim Salash) that conquered the 2020 title in Athens less than nine months ago, so they don't need to prove anything to anybody, and no one can wonder what their motivation is - they want to continue their Cinderella story by writing a new chapter where they become the first team to win back-to-back titles.
They went through a rough patch in March mainly due to players getting infected with the virus or struggling with injuries, but they need very little time of playing together again to resemble that well-oiled machine that dominated in Athens. They should be back at full strength by the time the Final 8 tips off in Nizhny, so Holon and all the other challengers will need to see off the best version of the defending champs.