Benfica Complete Treble in Portugal

26.05.2014

BASKETBALL IN EUROPE

Benfica 2014 Portuguese league champions
Benfica are the 2014 Portuguese champions

Benfica have swept Vitoria SC 3-0 in the Portuguese LPB finals to add the domestic championship title to the national cup and league cup trophies they had conquered earlier in the season.

The Lisbon club have ruled the LPB with an iron fist for three consecutive years and have now increased their silverware tally to a record 25 league titles.

Benfica had clinched first place in the regular season with an immaculate 19-1 record and lost only one game in the entire play-offs, in the semi-finals against Sampaense.

In the title series however, the two-time defending champions cruised to an 88-64 rout of Vitoria in Game 1 at home and then secured a 90-74 win in Game 2, also in Lisbon.

The series moved to Guimaraes for Game 3 but whatever hopes Vitoria had of claiming a win and prolonging the finals quickly evaporated as Benfica jumped to a 28-14 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Vitoria managed to somehow balance proceedings in the second quarter but a 28-18 Benfica burst after the break was enough to give them a commanding advantage.

Benfica held on to their leads until the final buzzer to celebrate an 88-72 win and the title.

"The most difficult part is not to get to the top, but to stay there," the champions's captain, veteran Diogo Carreira, told Benfica TV.

"This has been a very long season because we started working, and we worked very well, on 23rd August.

"In the finals, we first won both games in Lisbon, we controlled the pace of each game very well, the team was very focused and convinced that the title was not going to escape.

"I congratulate everybody on the team for adding one more title, a more than well-deserved title, to our history."

Jobey Thomas led six Benfica players in double digits by scoring a game-high 23 points on 5-of-7 from three-point range.

"It was a memorable season and I have to thank all my team-mates and the coaching staff, as well as the fans," the American guard said humbly after his excellent performance in the title decider.

"Benfica is a great club and it is a privilege to play here."

Thomas had the hot hand throughout the finals and averaged a team-best 24.3 points in the three games, but Benfica's superiority on the glass was also a crucial element of their dominance.

Veteran Portugal international Carlos Andrade, who averaged nine boards per game, together with power forward Seth Doliboa, were key players for the champions in this respect.

"It would feel better if we had won it at the Drag√£o stadium against Porto, but in the end it is still the league title," Doliboa said after Game 3.

Porto, Benfica's traditional arch-rivals, was dissolved in 2012 and was renamed to Dragon Force; they won the Proliga (second division) title earlier this year, working their way back to the top flight from the third division in just two years.

"Whenever you win a championship, you achieve something you have worked for during a long time," Doliboa added.

"We put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears all through this year to finally achieve our goal."


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