23 September, 2023
01 January, 2024
96 Ivan Almeida (SLB)
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Champions' Path Final set: Benfica or Norrkoping to join Regular Season

ANTALYA (Turkiye) - The stage is set. The Norrkoping Dolphins outlasted the Bakken Bears in the first Semi-Final, while SL Benfica stormed to a comfortable win over Petrolina AEK Larnaca to reach the Final of the Champions' Path Qualification Tournaments.

The Bears wanted to return to their natural habitat of the Regular Season, but they were caught sleeping by the high flying Dolphins. It was a 54-51 game to start the fourth quarter, before Norrkoping switched through gears and went on a game defining 11-0 run in less than three minutes.

Just like that, they had a double digit lead and steered the ship back home to safety while keeping Bakken at bay for a 78-68 win.

Marcus Tyus scored a team-high 18 points for Norrkoping, Issac Vann had another strong game off the bench with 16, Felix Terins also finished with 16 and added 8 assists to his stat line, while C.J. Penha flirted with a double-double with 12 points and 9 rebounds.

The Dolphins dominated inside the arc, but struggled from beyond it, hitting 10-of-34 three-pointers. Sure, it was enough to overpower a 6-of-25 shooting Bakken Bears Aarhus, but coach Mikko Riipinen knows his guys will have to be more accurate in the Final.

That's because they'll face a high scoring SL Benfica offense. The Portuguese champs opened up a double digit lead on the first possession of the second quarter against Petrolina AEK Larnaca, and even thought the Cypriot League winners made it back to a two-point deficit at one point, Benfica led from start to finish.

The final score said 87-59, putting the Lisbon squad just one step away from back-to-back Regular Season appearances.

Aaron Broussard had his 15 points all in the first half alone, Toney Douglas scored 12, while Makram Ben Romdhane did a bit of everything with 11 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Taveion Hollingsworth had 18 points in a losing effort.

The Final of the Champions' Path will take place on Friday.

The winner of that battle will enter the Regular Season Group G, alongside Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, Galatasaray Nef and PAOK mateco.