This was the most exciting Final Four of the BCL
The Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena in Malaga was the host of the most interesting Basketball Champions League Final 4 so far, the keywords of this edition are defense, surprise and Shorts. This season ended with a final that few dreamed of at the beginning of this season and with a battle for 3rd place turned into a Spanish affair.
The tournament started on Friday with a Tenerife-Hapoel 68-69, in which the Spaniards left as big favorites but the efforts of Huertas (20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) and Shermadini (18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) were not enough, Hapoel becoming in the final thanks to Carrington 19 points and Vene 15 points. In the second semi-final, the favorite and host of the tournament, Unicaja produced another unexpected surprise losing 67-69 with Bonn, a surprising result considering the rotation of the 2 teams and the fact that Malaga rarely loses at home. But TJ Shorts (21 points, 7 assists) was helped by Delany and Hawkins with 13 points each, Malaga having 3 players with 12 points each: Brizuela, Ejim and Perry.
Saturday was for award winners. J Shorts II of Telekom Baskets Bonn was named 2022-23 Basketball Champions League MVP, Tuomas Iisalo from the same team was voted Coach of the Season, Sadik Emir Kabaca of Galatasaray Nef was named Young Player of the Season, Alberto Diaz of Unicaja was selected as the first winner of the newly minted Defensive Player of the Season award.
TJ Shorts (Bonn), Marcelinho Huertas (Tenerife), Dario Brizuela (Malaga), Akil Mitchell (AEK) and Zach Hankins (Hapoel Jerusalem) were appointed to the 2022-23 Star Lineup. Star Lineup Second Team includes Marcus Foster (Rytas Vilnius), Kendrick Perry (Malaga), Levi Randolph (Hapoel Jerusalem), DeAndre Lansdowne (SIG Strasbourg) and Giorgi Shermadini (Tenerife).
Sunday started with Tenerife’s victory over Malaga 84-79 in the 100% Spanish match for third place. It was the first time that Malaga lost two consecutive matches at home in all competitions and they really chose a really bad time to do so. Tenerife had 8 scorers, 7 of which were in double digits, Fernandez and Shermadini having 12 points each; from Malaga, only Perry was in double digits with 22 points. The grand final was won by Bonn 77-70 at the end of another great performance by TJ Shorts (29 points), Hawkins (13 points) and Herrera (11 points) also being in double digits. From Hapoel, Randolph (27 points) and Mejeris (12 points) were the only ones in double digits. The Germans managed another exceptional defensive performance, allowing only 7 and 15 points respectively in the first and last quarters.
It was a triumphant final tournament from all points of view. Bonn and Jerusalem were the first German and Israeli teams, respectfully, to take part in a BCL Final. Bonn head coach Tuomas Iisalo will be the youngest to win a BCL Final (40 years and 289 days). We had the first 100% Spanish match in the match for third place, after last year it was in the final.
Photo credit: Basketball Champions League