Tenerife, Sao Paulo light up the FIBA Intercontinental Cup
VALENCIA (Jeff Taylor's Eurovision) - Marcelinho was there.
So was Marquinhos, Marnaoui, Mustapha and the Mortaris.
Four teams, four games, fantastic times at the FIBA Intercontinental Cup.
There were three convincing wins and a competitive, compelling Final. The title game hung in the balance before Tenerife pulled away in the fourth quarter to win the competition for the third time.
Long live this event because it's a FIBA family reunion of sorts, a gathering of champions from different parts of the world.
Lenovo Tenerife won last year's Basketball Champions League while São Paulo lifted the BCL Americas, US Monastir the BAL trophy and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers the NBA G League trophy.
The event was an eye-opener for the NBA's Vice President of Basketball Operations, Malik Rose.
"FAST-PACED, UP AND DOWN, LOTS OF 3-POINTERS, AND THIS CROWD RIVALS ANY NBA CROWD"
Here's a man that knows basketball, having gone from a terrific college career at Drexel to NBA greatness with the San Antonio Spurs, whom he helped win two NBA crowns.
"They play like the American style of basketball, which is very exciting, fast-paced, up and down, lots of three-pointers, and this crowd," Rose said, "rivals any NBA crowd. A lot of energy, it was a fun game to be around."
The event had national team players galore, some that will be at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, which is being staged in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.
São Paulo's Marquinhos, Elinho and Henrique Coelho have played for Brazil (it's hard to believe that Tulio Da Silva has not!) while Tunisia national team players past and present Ziyed Chennoufi, Firas Lahiani, Michael Roll, Amrou Bouallegue, Oussama Marnaoui, Lassaad Chouaya, Mohamed Abbassi, Mokhtar Ghyaza, Ahmed Addami and Radhouane Slimane represented Monastir.
Tenerife had international basketball players from all over: Aaron Doornekamp (Canada), Marcelinho Huertas (Brazil), Sasu Salin (Finland), Jaime Fernandez, Joan Sastre and Fran Guerra (all Spain), Giorgi Shermadini (Georgia) and Bruno Fitipaldo (Uruguay).
The FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2023 was a success, and especially for Tenerife, a club that also won in 2017 and 2020.
US Monastir of Tunisia had the recent addition of Roll, and the much traveled Jerome Randle.
US Monastir's Oussama Marnaoui competed against Vipers star Jarrett Culver
Marnaoui was the Monastir player that made the biggest impression in Tenerife with a 19-point effort in the Third-Place Game, a 107-84 defeat to Rio Grande Valley.
The Vipers have players that aspire to be in the NBA and some will no doubt get a chance. Mustapha Heron stood out, as did the shot-swatting, sweet-shooting Shawn Occeus. The true standout was high-flying, three-point marksman Jarrett Culver, which was no surprise as he was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Culver, just 23, made six of eight from deep in the Third-Place Game and scored 34 points in all.
What they did not have, at least in their Semi-Final, was the cohesion and overall team play that opponents São Paulo put on display.
Speaking of the Brazilians, the Mortaris, father Claudio and son, Bruno, were the subject of this feature on the BCL Americas website. What a great story!
Bruno Mortari has followed in his father Claudio's footsteps and now coaches São Paulo
Claudio was a young coach of the first Brazilian team ever, Sirio, to win the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, in 1979. In that team was Oscar Schmidt, the legendary Brazilian.
In that 1979 FIBA Intercontinental Cup, Claudio's wife, Marcia, was pregnant with the couple's second child. Three months later and the baby, Bruno, was born.
What makes this relevant is that Bruno is now coach of São Paulo, whom he led to last season's BCL Americas crown, and at last weekend's FIBA Intercontinental Cup. Claudio, who used to coach São Paulo after it was relaunched in 2018, continues to have an important role with the club and was in Tenerife.
The São Paulo guard play was terrific, especially from Elinho and Henrique Coelho, whose sudden burst of points late in third quarter of the Final helped the team come back from a huge deficit and make Tenerife work for their victory.
A spectacular third quarter by Coelho fueled hopes of a São Paulo comeback win
While Marcelinho and Salin are always big contributors for Tenerife, it was Tim Abromaitis who came off the bench and exploded for 20 points in the Semi-Final romp over US Monastir
In the Final, Aaron Doornekamp took center stage early. He finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Salin and Fitipaldo each poured in 15 points. Fitipaldo, especially, put on a fourth quarter masterclass and was named FIBA Intercontinental Cup MVP after Tenerife's 89-68 triumph.
Fitipaldo stepped up in the fourth quarter and fired Tenerife to a third Intercontinental Cup win
Another chapter has been written in FIBA Intercontinental Cup history, which dates back to the 1965 unofficial test game in São Paulo where Corinthians defeated Real Madrid, 118-109. So what's next?
This tournament reached into Africa, South America, the United States and Europe. What surely will enhance it is a sprinkling of Asia and Oceania in the future?
This much is certain. The next edition, wherever it's played and whichever clubs take part, will once again be absorbing.
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