17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
Burning questions: Another one-point game coming?
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Burning questions: Will the Tenerife v Tofas series be decided by a single point once again?

MIES (Switzerland) - Lenovo Tenerife and Tofas Bursa are facing each other in the Quarter-Finals once again in the Basketball Champions League. In 2022, Tenerife emerged victorious by a combined point differential of 2 points over two games.

In Game 1, Paco Cruz knocked down a big three-pointer to tie the scores at 77-all with just 17 seconds left to play in San Cristobal de La Laguna.. However, Marcelinho Huertas was fouled on the last Tenerife possession with 2 ticks left on the game clock. He hit the first free-throw and intentionally missed the second, for time to run out and the hosts to secure a 78-77 win.

Game 2 saw nearly an identical finish. Yigit Arslan hit a clutch three-pointer to give Tofas a 73-72 lead with 11.1 seconds to go, but Huertas once again took over on the final possession, hitting the game-winning two-pointer with 0.9 left to play.

Tenerife advanced to the Final Four in Bilbao, Spain, where they eventually picked up their second BCL title. Therefore, coach Txus Vidorreta and his team might see Tofas in the Quarter-Finals as an omen of things to come.

How did they get here?

Tenerife had a rocky start to the season, but even with a couple of defeats to Darussafaka Lassa and VEF Riga, they finished top of their Regular Season group, moving straight to the Round of 16.

An 85-61 defeat to Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem put their ambitions on hold just prior to the February break, but they came back looking like a renewed team. They picked up four wins in six games and steered clear of Peristeri bwin, Jerusalem and Pinar Karsiyaka in their grop, claiming the all important homecourt advantage.

They are 20-0 at home over their last 20 BCL games, so it's quite obvious why it is so important.

Tofas will try to upset the odds as they have already done this season. A couple of wins over Igokea m:tel were just enough for the Turkish side to squeeze into the Play-Ins, where they engaged in an incredible back-and-forth battle with PAOK mateco.

The Bursa club won the series 2-1, with all three games in the Play-Ins won by the road team. The never-say-die attitude was evident once again in the Round of 16, with Tofas edging out a couple of French teams - Cholet Basket and SIG Strasbourg - to book a trip to the Quarter-Finals.

Overall, Orhun Ene's team had just six wins in 15 BCL games this season, but timed them to perfection to be among the elite eight once again.

What are their biggest strengths?

Tenerife control the pace of the game better than anybody else in the BCL. They score only 6.9 fastbreak points per game, not even close to the top-half of the standings, but at the same time they allow opponents to score just 7 points in transition on average.

Just like that, Tenerife are the best team in terms of defensive transition, keeping the momentum of the game on their side at all times, not allowing easy points and keeping the game 5v5, the way coach Vidorreta and his players love to play it.

In fact, at 69.9 possessions per game, Tenerife were the second-slowest team of all BCL participants this season, just behind PAOK's 69.5 possessions per game.

Tofas have the highest free-throw ratio among the eight Quarter-Finalists as they get to the line 23 times per game, compared to their 60 field goal attempts per contest. That amounts to a free-throw rate of 38.9, one whole point above any other elite eight team.

Given the fact that their previous two matchups with Tenerife were one-point games, getting to the free-throw line and making the shots from the charity stripe could make all the difference from a historical season to another Quarter-Finals ending for Tofas.

Who's feeling it?

Age is just a number, they say. Marcelinho Huertas has had three games of 20 or more points in the BCL since he turned 40. The number of games with 20+ points in the BCL before he turned 40? Zero. The Brazilian point god never scored more than 20 points in his first 65 games in this competition.

In the Spanish Liga Endesa, Huertas is averaging 14 points per game, reaching that mark for just the third time as a professional player, while his 15.8 points per game in the BCL are his career-best in any European competition, by some distance, too.

For Tofas, it will be about Cassius Winston delivering knockouts with his right. He is riding a four game streak of scoring 10 or more, his personal best run in the BCL, and he scored 15 or more in seven games this season.

By a bizarre twist of that situation, Winston scoring a lot usually means Tofas lost the game. They are 1-6 in those seven games from the previous paragraph.

Have they met before?

Yes, as described in the opening lines of this preview. Tenerife won both games in the Quarter-Finals, and did so by a margin of two points.

When and where?

Game 1 tips off on Wednesday at 20:00 CET (19:00 local) in San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.

The series then move to Türkiye, on Wednesday, April 10, starting at 18:00 CET (19:00 local) in the Tofas Nilufer Spor Salonu.

A potential Game 3 would be played back in Spain, at 20:00 CET (19:00 local) on Wednesday, April 17.