23 September, 2023
01 January, 2024
Game Report
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Benfica join Jerusalem, Galatasaray and PAOK in Regular Season Group G

ANTALYA (Turkiye) - The Champions' Path gave us the first of three teams to join the Basketball Champions League Regular Season. SL Benfica clawed back from a 14-point deficit to overcome the Norrkoping Dolphins in the Final of Qualifying Tournament 1.

Benfica prevailedΒ Β 83-73, making it back-to-back Regular Season appearances for the Portuguese champs, who reached the Play-In Series in 2022-23.

Turning point: The Swedish champions opened up a 14-point lead in the first half, testing Benfica's patience with their hot three-point shooting. Coach Norberto Alves will be proud of the response, because there was no panic whatsoever from the Lisbon team.

Instead, they forced seven turnovers in the third quarter, halting Norrkoping's offense to a standstill, and when Trey Drechsel made his only triple of the game to beat the buzzer, Benfica cut the gap to justΒ  1 point, 60-59 with ten minutes to play.

Benfica had all of the momentum on their side, taking a 65-60 lead before the Dolphins realized what hit them. When Toney Douglas made his usual stepback three-pointer from the left wing, it was already a 74-65 lead for Benfica, their biggest of the game at that point.

There was no coming back from that deficit, Norrkoping struggled with Benfica's active hands on defense in the second half.

Game hero: There's a reason why Betinho Gomes is considered a legend in Portugal. The 38-year-old forward came off the bench to pour in a game-high 20 points, knocking down four highly important three-pointers.

Betinho shot it 7-of-12 from the field, and had the second highest +/- on the team with +9. Benfica were a +12 team with Ivan Almeida on the floor, he had 8 points and 5 steals on the day.

Stats don't lie: The Dolphins shot 11-of-21 from beyond the arc in the first half, but went cold after the break, hitting just three of their next 15 shots. Meanwhile, Benfica made 8-of-19 three-pointers, six of them after the break.

Bottom line: Benfica now join Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, Galatasaray Nef and PAOK mateco in Group G of the Regular Season. It will certainly be a colorful affair with strong fan bases for all four teams.

The core of the squad remained the same for the Portuguese champs, Terrell Carter is the big body in the middle with 18 points and 9 rebounds in the Final, Aaron Broussard and Toney Douglas are orchestrating the offense, while Trey Drechsel is fitting in nicely as the new addition.

As for the Norrkoping Dolphins, they can be proud of their performances in Turkiye. They played unselfish basketball with a lot of cutting, passing and shooting, and Felix Terins played amazing basketball all week long, finishing with 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in the decider.

Sweden will remain without a team in the Regular Season again. They were just ten minutes away from becoming the 29th nation with a group stage representative in BCL history.