On Sunday, May 14, this Basketball Champions League season will come to an end and we will have a final in the premiere, a finalist from Germany, Telekom Baskets Bonn and a finalist from Israel, Hapoel Jerusalem. This final will be only the 2nd in the history of the competition in which we will not have at least one team from Spain (AEK – Monaco 2018) and the first for any team from Germany or Israel.
Telekom Baskets Bonn arrived here at the end of a dream season for them, with 5 defeats in all competitions. Probably the best defensive match was this one in the semifinals where they managed to hold the 2nd offensive of the competition and the host of this event, Unicaja Malaga to only 67 points scored. This was due to a solid and suffocating defense that contested nearly every 3-point shot, with the Spaniards finishing 7/34 from the 3-point line – 20.6%. Although in the end Malaga was pushed from behind by the public, and seemed to be coming back into the game, Shorts missing 2 free throws with 10 seconds left in the game, but Kendrick Perry’s uninspired decision from the last attack made the final score 69-67 for Bonn. Although he did not play a good offensive game, consuming enormous resources to defend, Shorts was again the best man of the Germans with 21 points and 7 assists, he was helped by Delany and Hawkins each with 13 points.
Hapoel Jerusalem managed to reach the final at the end of another heart attack match against former champions, Lenovo Tenerife. The Israelis proved why they are the best defense in this Final Four by winning 69-68, allowing only 5 of 22 shots from the 3-point line – 22.7%. At the beginning of the match, the bench seemed to be Hapoel’s problem, but in fact, it was the factor that brought them victory: Carrington – 19 points, Siim-Sander Vene’s 15 points and Brandon Brown’s 11 points were decisive. Among the starters, Randolph’s 12 points was the only one in double digits.
In the final, we will have two teams that scored 69 points each in the semifinals, that have shown that they are willing to make a huge defensive effort to win this trophy. Both are in the best shape with at least 7 consecutive victories. Statistics Telekom Bonn – Hapoel Jerusalem will be a balanced duel: 2 Points FG (52.4%-54.2%), 3 Points FG (36.9%-36.5%), rebounds (38-34), steals (7-8), assists ( 17-18), turnovers (13-12).
The Germans have shown that they do not necessarily depend on the offensive form of TJ Shorts and that when the offense does not work they know how to defend extremely well, Hapoel has shown that their bench can be extremely useful in important matches and can win the matches with a stake. I am betting on a better match from TJ Shorts in the final and giving the Germans the first chance to lift the trophy.
Photo credit: Basketball Champions League