10 - 12
February 2023
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Final preview: Famous first for Sao Paulo or triple treat for Tenerife?

TENERIFE (Spain) - The FIBA Intercontinental Cup is coming to a close on Sunday, when the hosts take on the BCL Americas champions. Lenovo Tenerife are hoping to add their third title, Sao Paulo are looking to celebrate a first-ever trophy conquest in this competition.

How did they get here?

Lenovo Tenerife went into their Semi-Final against US Monastir with authority. It was the usual recipe, Marcelinho Huertas dropping dimes, Giorgi Shermadini finishing at the rim, and just about everybody else knocking down three-pointers. They led their opponents from start to finish and at one point the lead balloonedย  to 72 points.

It finished 112-42, pushing Txus Vidorreta's squad to the Final. It smells of history repeating, as back in 2017 and then in 2020 Lenovo Tenerife hosted the FIBA Intercontinental Cup and won it on both occasions, with Huertas also earning MVP honors the second time.

The Sao Paulo basketball section on the other hand is still young, but they broke down so many barriers over the last couple of years. They won their first international trophy last season, lifting the BCL Americas, and now they have a chance to become the third club from Brazil to lift the trophy.

Sao Paulo put on a show against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the Semi-Final, powered by Malcolm Miller's 24 points, Tulio Da Silva's monster double-double of 19 points and 15 rebounds and Elinho's 10 assists and 4 steals.

All that was on Friday. What do they need to do to win on Sunday?

For Tenerife, it's going to be more of the same. They allowed 66 or fewer points over their last three BCL games in Europe, all three in the Round of 16, and allowing just 42 points in the Semi-Finals is a further sign that this iteration of the yellow-blacks is an improved defensive team.

If they can keep Miller and Elinho under control in the backcourt, a lot of things could happen for Tenerife in offensive transition, giving them a better chance of joining Varese and the Akron Wingfoots as the only three-time champs of the Intercontinental Cup. Real Madrid lead the way with five and there is no club with four trophies.

On the Sao Paulo side, coach Bruno Mortari will have a chance to join his father, who won the FIBA Intercontinental Cup with Sirio back in 1979. Bruno was born three months later.

But to lift the trophy, he'll have to stop Marcelinho Huertas from passing, Giorgi Shermadini from finishing, Sasu Salin from shooting, and the fact that guys like Tim Abromaitis (20 points in 20 minutes in the Semi-Final) and Bruno Fitipaldo (14-of-20 shoooting from beyond the arc in Tenerife's last three home games) are on fire is an additional headache for the Brazilian team.

It sounds like a tall order, but Sao Paulo have the tools to match up perfectly.

What will be the key matchup?

Elinho against Huertas will be one of the most fun point-guard matchups we have seen in these ten years since the competition was relaunched. Shermadini against Da Silva will be all about controlling the boards, but the most fun battle could be about the fastest trigger.

Malcolm Miller and Sasu Salin each hit five three-pointers in the Semi-Finals. Both of them have a habit of making the three-point shots that take the air out of the building for the opponent, and both of them play with so much confidence that you are surprised on the rare occasion they do miss a shot.

Expect both of them to go through stretches where they hit consecutive threes, now it's just a matter of which side gets consecutive stops to pair them with those shots and go on those little 6-0 runs that could seal the deal.

When and where is the game taking place?

Sunday, February 12, at 19:00 local time (GMT), in the Santiago Martin Arena in San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.