SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA LAGUNA (Intercontinental Cup) - Iberostar Tenerife are the 2017 Intercontinental Cup champions after holding off Guaros De Lara 76-71 on Sunday in front of a raucous home crowd.
Tenerife had a response for every Guaros De Lara rally in the fourth, having taken control for good in the final minutes of the third period.
Tenerife started knocking down their shots from beyond the arc in the second half, and capitalised on second chance opportunities to secure the win.
"First of all we're just happy to win," Tim Abromaitis exclaimed in the post-game press conference.
"This is something we were preparing for for a long time. I wouldn't say we played our best game, but in the end all that matters is we won and we're lifting the trophy. We're happy and it's a good way to win the pre-season before we start the ACB."
New signing Mike Tobey was dominant with 21 points and 9 rebounds on 10 of 13 shooting to pick up MVP honours, whilst Davin White added 14 points including some key free throws down the stretch. Nicolas Richotti finished with 11 points to join them in double figures.
"We were preparing for this game but not against usual opponents, and against very unusual basketball (situation; playing for a title in pre-season)," Tenerife Head Coach Nenad Markovic commented.
"In this final, what people will remember is the team who won the trophy and this is us. I think we deserved it. We play better, even though we didn't play the basketball we wanted to play.
"We were nervous in the first half, we didn't make shots, we couldn't adjust to their switching defence, they score some easy points, but I think we could have broken the game earlier and had more comfortable win."
The Venezuelan side were led by 23 points from Mario Little, whilst captain Gregory Echenique had 11 points. Nestor Colmenares had a 10-point, 11-rebound double double, and Nate Robinson added 10 points and 6 assists.
It was Guaros De Lara who got the better of the early exchanges, with a Robinson triple punctuating a 12-2 lead and appearing as though the visitors were firmly in control.
However, Tenerife fought back. Abromaitis dunked it inside to spark a rally that saw the home side draw within three at the end of the first quarter.
The two sides battled throughout the second, trading baskets, before a Mario Little three-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer broke a tie and put Guaros De Lara up 39-36 at the break.
In the third, Tenerife trailed by five, 48-43, after Nate Robinson basket, and responded immediately with an Abromaitis three, followed by a Tobey alley oop to tie it up.
A Ponitka jumpshot put Tenerife in control with a little over 90 seconds remaining in the third, and they would hold on the rest of the way.
Guaros De Lara would make multiple rallies in the fourth, remaining within striking distance throughout, but each basket was met with a response as Iberostar Tenerife would claim another major title ahead of the domestic season.