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Basketball Champions League 2020: How Did San Pablo Burgos Take The Crown In Their Debut Season?


Back in 2015, San Pablo Burgos had just become a professional club. Fast forward five years, and they are now the winners of the Basketball Champions League (BCL), having successfully taken down hosts AEK in the title game. What was the secret to their success this year?

By: Fabien Le Luyer, Miguel Tavares

Making A Living From Behind The Arc

In their debut season in the Basketball Champions League (BCL), San Pablo Burgos based their game plan on their long-range shooting, scoring and attempting more 3-pointers per game than any other team in the league this season.

They married volume with accuracy, and were so accurate from deep that they set a record in the BCL for the most 3-pointers scored in a single season, making a total of 223 shots from behind the arc and becoming the first team to convert 200 or more such shots.

San Pablo Burgos also recorded the most 3-point shots per game of any team in a single season in the BCL, with an average of 11.7 per game.

Despite their high shooting volume, San Pablo Burgos were also the second-best team in 3-point percentage, making 39.4% of their attempted 3-pointers in the BCL in 2019/20, with only Turk Telekom having a higher percentage (39.6%).

San Pablo Burgos’ potency from behind the arc saw them notch another record:  they are the side with the longest run of games with 10 or more successful 3-pointers, doing so in their last eleven games. No other team has amassed more than eight consecutive games with 10 or more 3-pointers drained in BCL history (Nanterre, 8).

San Pablo’s 3-point reliance is further illustrated by the fact that of their 1,640 total points scored in the BCL 2019/20, 41% of them came from behind the 3-point line – only RASTA Vechta had a higher percentage of their total points coming from 3-poiny shots (42%).

Even though they were one of the best teams in the league shooting from long range during the season, they took it up a notch in the final, putting in one of their best shooting performances ever.  The Spanish side made 17 shots from behind the arc against AEK, which is the most for any team in a BCL title game (the previous best was set by Iberostar Tenerife in 2017 when they made 12 shots).

Most 3-Pointers Made In A BCL Final

TeamSeason3PM in a Final
San Pablo Burgos202017
Iberostar Tenerife201712

In fact, San Pablo Burgos made and attempted more 3-point shots (17/35) than 2-point shots (14/26) in the Final against AEK, which is the ultimate proof of how important the long shot was on their road to the title.

Bench Boost

San Pablo Burgos’ success in last season’s BCL was also the result of their bench performers. That is not to say the starters disappointed, far from it, but it was the bench players who stepped up and brought the trophy back to Spain.

During the Final Eight, 52% of the points scored by San Pablo Burgos came from bench players, one of only two teams who had their non-starters contribute over 50% of their points (AEK (51%). This epitomised the season for San Pablo Burgos as a whole, as they saw their bench unit rack up 50+ points in a game on five different occasions.  No other team achieved that more than three times. In total, 55 of their 85 points (65%) were scored by non-starters in the final, the most for a team in the history of the BCL Final Four/Eight.

Most Points From The Bench In A BCL Final Four/Eight Game

TeamGameBench Points
San Pablo BurgosFinal 202055
AEKSemi-Final 202052
Umana Reyer Venezia3rd Place Play Off 201751
Giants Antwerp3rd Place Play Off 201944
AEKFinal 202044

Indeed, the MVP of the Final Eight was a player that started all three games on the bench, Thaddus McFadden. McFadden was not the player expected to shine in the final stages of the competition. After being a frequent starter during the regular season, he was dropped to the bench during the playoffs. Unperturbed by his benching, McFadden went on to score 42 points in the Final Eight, the second-best tally for a player who started all the games on the bench (Tyrese Rice 47) and joint-third best tally overall. His average of 14 points per game is more than what he averaged during the regular season (10.4 pts per game, in 11 of his 14 games as a starter). Maybe San Pablo Burgos should consider benching the American more often.

McFadden waited until the final game to truly break out. With 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, he became the first player to register 15+ points, five or more rebounds and five or more assists while coming off the bench in a BCL Final Four/Eight game.

Thaddus McFadden was not the only bench player who stepped up for San Pablo Burgos in the Final Eight. Ken Horton grabbed 21 rebounds, the best tally for a player coming off the bench in this year’s Final Eight and the joint-third most overall. He also scored 29 points, the fourth-most for a bench player during the BCL’s Final Eight.

Horton had his best game of the season during the semi-final against JDA Dijon where he became the first player to register a double-double while coming from the bench in a BCL Final Four/Eight game (19 points, 10 rebounds) and registered an efficiency rating of +24, the best for a bench player in a game of this Final Eight.

Most Rebounds From The Bench – BCL Final Eight 2020

Ken HortonSan Pablo Burgos21
Jonas MaciulisAEK17
Tryggvi HlinasonCasademont Zaragoza15
Marcus SlaughterAEK10
Thaddus McFaddenSan Pablo Burgos10

The veteran Omar Cook finished the Final Eight as the best assist provider among bench players and fourth overall with a tally of 15 assists. During the Final, Cook scored 15 points, his best tally in a BCL game (17 games) and made as many 3-pointers in that game (5) as in his previous 10 BCL appearances combined.

Most Assists From The Bench – BCL Final Eight 2020

Omar CookSan Pablo Burgos15
Tyrese RiceAEK14
Nikos ZisisAEK11
David HolstonJDA Dijon11
Thaddus McFaddenSan Pablo Burgos10

Finally, another player that shined during the BCL Final was Miquel Salvo: the 25-year old Spaniard scored 12 points during the game, the first time he’s scored over ten points in a single game in his 15 BCL games.

All those dynamic performances by San Pablo Burgos’ bench players proved once again that strength in depth is crucial to delivering titles.

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