17 October, 2023
05 May, 2024
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Meet the Final Four contenders: Lenovo Tenerife

BELGRADE (Serbia) - Don't remember everything that happened en route to the Belgrade Final Four? Don't worry, we got you covered!

BCL columnists Igor Curkovic and Diccon Lloyd-Smeath have watched every second of the competition since the start of the season and they love nothing more than talking about it, so we asked them to paint a portrait of all Final Four contenders,. Last. but most definitely not least, the two-time BCL champions, Lenovo Tenerife.


Igor: This is probably our only chance to hit copy-paste. Lenovo Tenerife are back for their fifth Final Four so, alongside their two Final Eights, they have reached the season-ending BCL tournament in seven of the eight seasons of this competition. But can we really go copy-paste? Did the two-time champions really walk an easy path, as usual?

Diccon: In a word, yes. We saw again the classic, early season road loss in the Regular Season. On this occasion though it happened twice, when they went down 88-84 at Darussafaka Lassa and then lost 77-72 at VEF Riga. However, we also saw them getting routine wins in third gear and taking first-place in their group, as is almost customary by now.

Tenerife put the record straight against Darussafaka with a 72-64 win at home, with Marcelinho Huertas dropping 21 points and dishing 11 assists for a double-double, and swerved the Play-Ins thanks to a dominant 91-85 road win at Cholet Basket behind Bruno Fitipaldo's 16-point display.

In the Round of 16, Tenerife were drawn in what proved to be the toughest group, together with Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, Pinar Karsiyaka, and their upcoming Semi-Final opponents, Peristeri bwin. As usual though, when a so-called 'group of death' includes Tenerife, the metaphor turns out to apply only to the other teams.

That’s exactly what happened again on this occasion. Txus Vidorreta's team won the first two games of the Round of 16 in style. First, in a battle of the bigs between Giorgi Shermadini and Karsiyaka’s Vernon Carey, the Georgian put up 25 points and 9 rebounds as Tenerife picked up a handy 106-97 win in Izmir. Tenerife’s new signing Kyle Guy also showed how perfect he was for the Vidorreta system, with 25 points of his own.

They followed up with a 89-68 home romp over Peristeri and everything was going to plan. Tenerife were then humbled somewhat in Belgrade as Hapoel Jerusalem handed them an 85-61 defeat. The setback didn’t last long, though.

Unlikely hero Joan Sastre put up 22 points to support Huertas’ 24 points as Tenerife completed a 95-92 reversal over Jerusalem on the next gameday and then clinched an 88-79 win to complete the double over Pinar Karsiyaka and secure a spot in the Quarter-Finals. They did lose to Peristeri on the final day of the Round of 16 but, by that point, Vidorreta, Huertas, Shermadini and the gang already had half an eye on things to come.

It took Tenerife three games to get the job done against Tofas Bursa in the Quarter-Finals, but it somehow never felt like a series that was in doubt. Huertas picked up his 11th BCL career double-double in Game 3, with 13 points and 10 assists, as the Canarians notched up their 22nd straight home win in the BCL. Huertas had previously racked up 30 points and 8 assists in Game 1 of the series and is playing some of the best basketball of his life.

Igor: Coach Vidorreta is the winningest coach in BCL history, already up to 90 career wins in this competition. How has he fine-tuned the 2024 edition of the Tenerife machine?

Diccon: Adding Kyle Guy has had a major impact on the way this team plays. Everyone knows about the Vidorreta system and we have all been watching it so long that even the less keen observer can recognize familiar set plays and actions. That doesn’t make it any easier for the opponents.

Whenever Tenerife fell short in the past, was on the rare occasions when the system wasn’t clicking. Their two championship runs both involved players that could score outside the system and get their own buckets, Marius Grigonis in Season 1 and Kyle Wiltjer in Season 6.

Kyle Guy is more in the Grigonis mould. He can play within the system, but if Vidorreta feels the need to call his number, he knows he has a go-to-Guy, pun intended. When you add in Huertas scoring more prolifically than he ever has before, Fitipaldo being his usual efficient self and Sasu Salin returning at the right time, that Tenerife offensive backcourt is as strong as it’s ever been.


Igor: Tenerife score an incredible 119 points per 100 possessions this season and lead the BCL in offensive rating. Meanwhile, their defense has been questionable, allowing 111 points per 100 possessions and ranks 17th. Does this mean Tenerife are testing the ‘defense wins championships’ adage? Is offense their way to the trophy in 2024?

Diccon: It’s very unlikely that one of the consistently best defensive teams in the BCL over the last eight seasons has just forgotten how to play defense. The small sample size of games and mitigating circumstances mean that we shouldn’t really read too much into Tenerife’s struggles defensively.

Salin was out for long periods and he alone makes a hugely underrated difference defensively. Let’s also not forget that Tenerife already held their Semi-Final opponents Peristeri to just 68 points when they met in the Round of 16.


Igor: Tofas Bursa were effective against Tenerife in the Quarter-Finals, using low posts and getting early into their offense. Are those Tenerife's weak points?

Diccon: It could well be interesting to see if Tenerife’s Semi-Final opponents Peristeri look to employ some low post matchups with their guards posting up against Huertas, Fitipaldo, and Guy, because Tofas enjoyed some success doing that in Game 2 of their Quarter-Final series.

Peristeri may also want to turn the game into a shootout and a high volume of early offense actions may well be the way for them to create advantages. The Greek side however have been a halfcourt offensive team this year, so maybe it’s not really who they are either. Then again, when you have Joe Ragland running the show, you never know.

Igor: What's your favorite thing about Tenerife's season? Could be a play, a player, a playcaller, a playlist, a play on words...

Diccon: The obvious answer here would be Huertas playing like a man in his twenties while he is in his forties but no, I’m going to pick a play. Vidorreta’s offensive system has now become one of European basketball’s most well-known exports - other than the star players of course - to the NBA.

This year we saw 'NBA twitter' get excited about a new adaptation to the iconic 'Spain pick-and-roll' action but in fact this new twist is known as 'Tenerife' action or 'Sasu’s play' and they have been using it for several years now on the Canary island.