24/03/2018
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Everything set for Final4 with Boedo as continental stage

BUENOS AIRES (DIRECTV Liga de las Américas 2018) —The moment we have all be waiting for in this eleventh edition of Liga de las Américas is finally here. Buenos Aires will be the venue for the Final4 and, for the first time, there will be three Argentine teams and a Brazilian squad. Hosts San Lorenzo will welcome at Polideportivo Roberto Pando in Boedo teams Estudiantes de Concordia, Regatas Corrientes and Mogi das Cruzes.

San Lorenzo is the only team with no losses in this competition, after being Group B winners in Talca, Chile; as well as Group E victors in their own stadium —both with a 3-0 record. The Boedo side has Gabriel Deck (16.8 points per game) as their premier offensive weapon. Despite the fact that the Argentine National Team forward played while injured in the Semi-Finals phase and later was absent from the National League due to the same cause, it is expected that he will be able to play with no setbacks. Another important card on their deck is center Nicolás Aguirre, the second-best passer of this Liga de las Américas, with 7.3 assists per game. Mathias Calfani, Marcos Mata, Dar Tucker and Javier Justiz are some of the others that showcased a high-performance level in the first two stages and are the hope of the team. Besides, Gonzalo García’s team enjoys an excellent current season in the local arena. The champions of the last two seasons of the Argentine National League are the only leader in the current edition, with 19 wins and only 4 defeats.

Mogi das Cruzes, a team that arrived as guests to this tournament, portrayed their dominance both in Group B and E. They ended second place in both and their two losses were against San Lorenzo. The experience and quality of their foreign players is unquestionable. Tyrone Curnell (the second greatest scorer in the competition, with 18.2 points per game) and Shamell Stallworth (fourth, with 17.7) set the course for this Brazilian team. The players under Guerrinha’s wing also count on Larry Taylor's valuable presence from the point guard position (12.2 points and 4.8 assists per game), Jimmy Oliveira's versatility and the power of Caio Torres, who was decisive in the game that gave Mogi their qualification, with 20 points and 11 rebounds in the triumph against Fuerza Regia. The bar is set high for Mogi das Cruzes, since in their only appearance at the continental tournament —in 2016— they finished third after defeating Flamengo. In the current NBB season, where they lost two of their final three games, they are in fourth place, with 18 wins and 8 losses.

Regatas won Group C and F, both of which were played at home in Corrientes. Gabriel Piccato’s team won their first 5 games and only won (against twice-champions Guaros) when their spot to the Final4 was already secured. Without a doubt, their offensive leader and main man is Paolo Quinteros, wo at 39 years of age averages 16.6 points per game in this edition of Liga de las Américas. The incorporation of Brandon Thomas for the second phase was significant, due to the small forward’s overall contribution of 13.7 points per game. Another key player is Uruguayan point guard Santiago Vidal, who achieved 10.8 points and 5.2 assists per game. Regatas is the only one of the four teams that already knows what it is like to be a Liga de las Américas champion. They did it in 2011, the last year when an Argentine team took home the title. In the Argentine National League, the team from Corrientes won their last three games and are in the eighth position, with 14 triumphs and 11 losses.

However, Estudiantes de Concordia are the greatest surprise of this tournament. They were second in Group C, leaving behind Hebraica Macabi and Leones de Ponce, and were also in this place in Group F after eliminating no more and no less than Guaros and Bauru. The team from the Region of Entre Ríos will keep trying to surprise everyone as they already did when they won the second place of Liga Sudamericana and also when they their current position in Liga de las Américas (with a 4-2 record). Four foreigners stand out in Lucas Victoriano's team. The greatest scorer is Anthony Smith, with 17.3 points per game, and who was essential with 27 points in the key triumph against Bauru that gave Estudiantes the last ticket available for the Final4. The other offensive spearheads are Clay Tucker (13.5 PPG) and Cuban player Jasiel Rivero (13.0 PPG). Spanish player David Doblas is not that much of a scorer (9.3 PPG) but contributes his instinct of the game during the attacks and marks his presence on the defense. Estudiantes are now fourteenth in the National League, with 9 victories and 13 losses.

The decisive moment is here. This Saturday, at 7:10 PM (host city hour), Regatas and Mogi will try to get the ticket to the Final; and at 9:30 PM San Lorenzo and Estudiantes will try to do the same. On Sunday, the game for the Bronze will be played by the losing teams. And, finally, the winners will play the grand final. All is set. Let the games begin!

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FIBA