04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
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Semi-Final preview: Can defending champs Tenerife stave off Jerusalem's challenge?

MALAGA (Spain) - The defending champions Lenovo Tenerife and the Israeli Cup winners Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem face off in the first Semi-Final of Final Four, Season Seven.

How did they get here?

Tenerife needed three games to get past BAXI Manresa in a rematch of the 2022 Final. The champs lost a close affair on the road in Manresa, 85-83 in Game 2, but sandwiched it between two dominant home performances. Game 3 saw them win 84-72 whilst shooting 44 percent from behind the arc and 52 percent overall.

Jerusalem's road required them to run the gauntlet against 2018 champs AEK. Homecourt was vital again, as AEK also picked up a home win in Game 2 but Jerusalem performed one of the most dominant performances in BCL Quarter-Final history to win 91-51 in Game 3 and march on to the Final Four. 

What does the data say?

As always, Tenerife sit near the top of the most efficient teams in the league with a Net Rating of 12.6, meaning they are nearly 13 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions.

The efficiency this year is mostly down to the offensive end where they score at a rate of 115 points per 100 possessions. Also as always with Tenerife you need to keep an eye on them from the great beyond, as they are shooting 39 percent on 27 attempts. 


For Jerusalem defense is king. They are the best defensive team in the league, holding teams to just 100 points per 100 possessions. On the offensive end, Jerusalem are all about "sharing is caring" as they average 19.3 assists per game, ranking them second at Final Four and third in the BCL.


What to watch for

For Tenerife, the core dynamics are as stable as they have always been. Marcelinho Huertas and Bruno Fitipaldo run the show in the pick-and-roll, with the likes of Giorgi Shermadini and Fran Guerra finishing in the paint, or Sasu Salin, Aaron Doornekamp, and Tim Abromaitis waiting in the wings to knock down shots. 

What has made a difference this season is the addition of Elgin Cook and Leandro Bolmaro. Both players bring the defensive intensity and offensive aggression that maybe Txus Vidorreta hasn't had at his disposal previously.

If there is one offensive set that we can expect to see in the game, it probably has to be the 'Argentina' break they use in transition. If you see Huertas running the break into a middle ball screen, with Shermadini setting up to receive a 'flex' screen down low, you know what's coming.

With coach Aleks Dzikic's Jerusalem squad, there was no such comfort to be found in continuity. They had an almost entirely new roster to start the season. The core of this year's Jerusalem is based around disruptive ball pressure and the mobility of every player on the floor, as multiple players on the roster have the length and versatility to guard several positions.

On the offensive end, Speedy Smith will be throwing lobs to Zach Hankins, whilst the likes of Levi Randolph, Khadeen Carrington, and Brandon Brown will be looking to make plays on the perimeter. Mareks Mejeris and Siim-Sander Vene bring the inside-outside threat from the four position that makes Dzikic's spacing so difficult to cover.

Jerusalem's offense can be unpredictable in a good way as opponents can never be sure which angle they will be attacked from. One thing that we can be reasonably confident of telling you to look out for, is Jerusalem looking to establish Randolph in the post. They don't do it in high volumes but when they do get three to four great possessions from Randolph down low, it's almost exactly when they need it and often precedes the entire team going on a run.


Key matchup

If you are to have any chance of stopping Tenerife you need to win the matchup with Marcelinho Huertas. Last year's Final Four MVP is having his best scoring season ever in a continental competition, averaging 12.7 points per game. 

The patented Marcelinho Huertas one-leg runner.

Likewise, if Tenerife have any chance of getting past Jerusalem they will need to come up with a way to manage Levi Randolph. who is averaging 15 points on 54.5 percent from two-point range and 38.5 percent from three. That doesn't only make Randolph the highest-scorer on any of the two teams but also one of the most efficient scorers in every area of the court.