10 December, 2021
10 April, 2022
Leandro Vildoza (BOC)
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The strengths of the five BCL Americas playoffs teams so far

 MIAMI (United States) – Five teams stepped forward and after the second stage of the Group Phase, sealed their place in the playoffs of the Basketball Champions League Americas. The three Brazilian teams, which at the beginning of the tournament had already given signs they were going to be a tough out, qualified again. São Paulo sits above everyone with a 4-0 record in Group B, and although Minas (3-1) and Flamengo (3-1) lost for the first time in Round two, in Groups C and D respectively, they did enough to enter the next round.

The other quintets that accompany them in the next stage are the Argentine club Boca Juniors (3-1), who managed to contain Flamengo, and Uruguayan Biguá squad (3-1), who did the same against Minas. Both played well at home helping their efforts to advance.

Let's review some of the keys of these five qualifiers while we wait for the month of March, when the action of Group A will resume (on the 4th, 5th and 6th) and then a little later (between the 11th and 16th) the third and final stage of the Group Phase, in which we will know the owners of the three remaining places in the playoffs.

São Paulo's approach away from home

Of the teams that have already reached the Final 8, the only one that has not yet played at home is São Paulo, but they have not needed it because so far, they are the only team with a perfect record (not counting Group A). The Bruno Mortari led club played extremely well away from their home court first in Santiago del Estero (Argentina) and then in Montevideo (Uruguay).

They are third in the tournament in scoring behind Cangrejeros and Minas with an average of 89.0 points per game and are second in points allowed at 72.2 per contest. As if that were not enough, they have also dominated from three-point range shooting 42-percent. This speaks to how balanced their game is. They are the leaders in blocks with an average of 6.5 thanks to the presence of Bruno Caboclo, who averages an amazing 5.0 rejections per game. The power forward is the most dominant player so far in the tournament (28.8 points, 11.5 rebounds), but he also has the support of his teammates and that is the determining factor for success. Marquinhos Sousa (16.5), Shammel Stallworth (14.8) and Tyrone Curnell (12.3) are the other big contributors.

The offensive power of Minas

Minas calls Belo Horizonte home and have scored the most points so far in the competition with 358 in four games, for an average of 89.5 (only behind Cangrejeros, which in two games put an average of 90.0 points per game on the scoreboard). The squad led by Leo Costa is characterized by team play and it is no coincidence that it has four players with similar production. Shaquille Johnson (17.0 points) is the leader, but Alexey Borges (14.0), Gui Deodato (13.3) and Tavario Miller (11.5) have all been perfect complements.

Minas has been greatly effective in many facets of the game. They shoot 49 percent from the field and are the best free throw shooting team at 80 percent. It is true that they are coming off of a loss to undefeated against Biguá but they still have the chance to fight for the leadership of the Group against the Uruguayans themselves on a neutral court in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Biguá explosion from a long distance

Biguá had a perfect performance (2-0) in the second stage at home in Antel Arena. Much of their success has to do with their shooting prowess from long distance, especially in those two victories against Obras y Minas. The current Uruguayan champion, hit 11 - triples and that was their main weapon. In the first game they did it in 27 attempts and in the second in 29, for a very good 39 -percent.

With that level of success in the two most recent games, the team led by Diego Cal climbed to second place in the league in 3-point shooting at 37 percent, behind only São Paulo. Already the mere fact of having advanced in a group that they share with a Brazilian rival and another Argentine is very good news. If they are able to reach the top - something they have a chance to do on the last day - it would be extraordinary.

Flamengo's dominance on the boards

We all know that Flamengo traditionally relies on the three-point shot to dominate their opponents in the BCLA. In this year’s edition of the tournament, that is proving to be not the case. In fact, they are taking the most shots from beyond the arc with an average of 37 per game, but only making 32-percent of them. What is instead powering the success to the current monarchs is their great size and stature under the basket with men like Olivinha, Mineiro, Batista and Faverani.

The Cariocas are averaging 48-rebounds per game (tournament leaders), 15 of those have been offensive boards, which has allowed them to generate second chances and an easy way to score. In their four games they average 32 points in the paint and 14 in second chances. It is no coincidence that the contest in which they lost versus Boca Juniors produced only 16- points in the lane and eight second in.

Home cooking tastes better

In the second stage of the Group Phase, Boca Juniors did what no one expected - defeating the current champion Flamengo. The Brazilian team won BCL Americas last year going undefeated, so they had more than a year without knowing what it's like to lose in this tournament. However, the Argentine club was able to do the unthinkable by dominating them at home, the Luis Conde stadium, "La Bombonerita" with a great boost from their fans who did not stop encouraging them during the 40 minutes.

The Boca fans truly served as the sixth man in the stands with their chants and putting pressure on the Brazilian opponents. Of course, Gonzalo Garcia's boys also did their part with tremendous work on defense, only giving up 34- percent shooting from the field to their opponents and forcing 19 turnovers.