We are still waiting for the first team to defend their title in the FIBA Basketball Champions League. Hereda San Pablo Burgos kept their hopes of going back-to-back alive with an 86-77 win over Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon in the Quarter-Finals.
It was the fourth Quarter-Final in which the first seed was knocked out, and also the fourth Quarter-Final in which the winning team trailed at the half. Group I winners Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon also finished the game without their coach, Stefanos Dedas was ejected after getting two technical fouls with four minutes left in the game.
Burgos’ coach made the right adjustment after halftime, matching Holon’s small-ball lineup and giving his veteran guards all the offensive freedom to recognize and punish the mismatches all over the floor. Title holders’ rhythm never slowed down, wearing down Hapoel’s eight-man rotation by playing 11 players of their own. All 11 played less than 27 minutes.
Lenovo Tenerife won the first title in 2017 and got eliminated in the Round of 16 in 2018. That same year AEK won the title but lost in the Quarter-Finals in 2019. Segafredo Virtus Bologna wasn’t around to defend their title in 2020, which means Hereda San Pablo Burgos is the first defending champion to make it back to the Final Four. SIG Strasbourg is waiting on the other side after pulling off the upset of the Final 8, defeating Lenovo Tenerife in the Quarter-Finals.
Hapoel Unet-Credit Holon played a historic season, winning the Balkan League and reaching the Final 8. Even though they couldn’t dethrone the champs, the 2020-21 campaign was still a successful one.