Home, sweet home: Lenovo Tenerife win third FIBA Intercontinental Cup in as many Finals
TENERIFE (Spain) - This is becoming their event. Lenovo Tenerife picked up their third trophy in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, outlasting the BCL Americas champions Sao Paulo 89-68 in a memorable encounter on Sunday night.
All three of Tenerife's titles came at home, in 2017, 2020 and 2023. They join the Akron Wingfoots and Varese at three Intercontinental Cups won, now trailing only Real Madrid with five.
Turning point: Sao Paulo were not going away easily in this game, coming back multiple times even though the hosts were up from start to finish. The Brazilians were still within single digits at halftime, but the third quarter saw Txus Vidorreta's team pull away.
Everything was clicking for the hosts in the third frame, and everybody contributed in a 17-0 run that extended the lead of the BCL champions from 22 points, 60-38, their largest lead of the game. It would've been over then had it not been for Henrique Coelho's outstanding end to the third, cutting the deficit back to 10 points.
That's where Tenerife's big game experience came to play. They did not get nervous even for one second, running away to +20 territory once more thanks to Bruno Fitipaldo and Sasu Salin and their timely shot making.
FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2023 MVP: Bruno Fitipaldo entered the weekend shooting 11-of-15 from beyond the arc in his last two home games in the BCL, so his hand was already hot before tip-off in Tenerife's San Cristobal de La Laguna.
He had an all-round performance of 12 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in the Semis, and the 31-year-old Uruguayan followed it up with 15 points and 6 assists off the bench in the championship game.
Stats don't lie: Having 15 turnovers isn't necessarily a big number, but Sao Paulo's turnovers allowed Tenerife to maintain the pace that suited them and create a 23-9 edge in points from turnovers. The shooting touch wasn't there for Sao Paulo either, with just six three-pointers on the day.
Bottom line: Sao Paulo played a fine tournament, showing what made them champions of the BCL Americas last season. They've got the shot makers, they've got the passers, and they've got the physicality. It was just a matter of not having this sort of experience for such a young club.
Coelho had a game-high 18 points, Tulio Da Silva played all 40 minutes for a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double.
As for Tenerife, winning major international trophies is a habit now. They've got two BCL titles in Europe, this was their third Intercontinental Cup and they could add even more silverware this season, playing the Spanish Copa del Rey next week, then getting back to Spanish League and BCL duties.