Minas confident heading into Final 4
MIAMI (United States) – Minas is participating in their third season of Basketball Champions League Americas (after only missing the inaugural edition) and in all three occasions they reached the semifinals, known as the Final 4. That record speaks for the Belo Horizonte squad, who's coming off a pair of consecutive third-place finishes. They're now aiming to take the next step and reach the first final in their history, with hopes of winning the title.
They'll face a tough Flamengo team that has lifted the trophy before (in the 2020-21 season), but it's hard to see a clear favorite in this Brazilian duel.
Minas has gotten better as the games went on during the current season. They advanced out of Group B, the toughest of the competition, with a 3-3 record after having to face fellow Final 4 squad Quimsa, and Biguá, who reached the final last season. But in the quarter finals, Minas reached a new level and emphatically swept Libertadores (2-0), a team that had won Group A and was scoring close to 100 points per game (99.2).
Leonardo Costa's team defense held Libertadores to 81.0 points per game in those two games. That defensive performance plus a solid offense (they lead the competition with a 50.0 field goal percentage and 40.2 three-point percentage) makes them a feared squad.
“Our key, mainly, has been defensive consistency. We limited Libertadores and were able to be efficient on offense," said Minas big man Renan Lenz, who still thinks they can be even better. "We need to improve our defensive consistency. We still have moments where we lose focus. But in general, we're playing our best basketball at the right time. I'm very confident heading into this Final 4."
And while Lenz is poised before the semifinals, he knows it'll be paramount to stay concentrated and have a good level of execution.
“The matchup against Flamengo is always a great game. They're one of the best teams in the Americas, so it'll be a game where we must have a lot of tactical discipline and energy to reach the final," added Lenz, who's averaging 9.6 points per game during the current BCL Americas season.
There will be no secrets between Flamengo and Minas. These teams know each other well from the Brazilian league, where the Rio de Janeiro squad beat Minas twice in the current season of NBB. In the first occasion, they won 85-73 in the opening game and later, in matchweek 24, they won 79-78. But when it comes to BCLA, Minas eliminated Flamengo last season, 85-83, in the quarter finals.
"We're two very good teams and we know the difficulty of the matchup. However, our team has a lot of confidence heading into this Final 4 and we're very excited to reach the final and get in a position to win the BCLA title," said Costa.