Adeje Hails The Slam Dunk Derby

Thundering down the court, plundering the baskets, and closing down shooting angles for their opposition, Iberostar Tenerife (black vests) and Herbalife Gran Canaria (yellow) brought a full bloodied pre season basketball friendly to Adeje. Top class basketball in the Canary Islands? Well of course there is, I last went to see Iberostar Tenerife in January 2013 at their La Laguna stadium, they play in Spain’s elite Liga Endesa along with close rivals Herbalife Gran Canaria. Adeje Ayuntamiento promotes its own youth programme and provided the venue in the form of the Complejo Deportivo Las Torres near the heart of Adeje town.

My knowledge of the finer points of basketball could be written on the back of a postage stamp, and anyway they have refined the rules a bit in recent years to sharpen the pace. This was the opening action for both teams, both attract regular 3,000 plus home crowds and are in the European Champions League this coming season. Five new faces graced each roster, the only two familiar Tenerife names from my last match were Nico Richotti from Italy and Mamdou Niang, a Senegal born youngster previously known as Petit Niang, although at 2.10 metres he was one of the tallest on the court.

The intensity was clear from the start of the first 10 minute quarter (the clock stops with all breaks in play) most of the players may have come from outside the Canaries but the importance of bragging rights between the two islands had certainly been taken on board by all concerned. Tenerife raced into a 19-15 lead at the first break, Nico Richotti was buzzing and involved in all the best moves. Gran Canaria came back strongly to take the second quarter 13-26 for a 32-41 half time lead. The changeover of players from the benches was at a furious rate, home coach Txus Vidorreta had recently signed a new contract for Tenerife but was finding it hard to stem the turning tide. Lithuanian signing Marius Grigonis was the pick of the home pack with some clinical shooting, Canadian Aaron Doornekamp, another new arrival wasn’t far behind but missed some crucial penalty shots.

Tenerife drifted in the third quarter with Gran Canaria’s 10-17 superiority stretching the overall lead to 42-58. The final quarter saw a minor fight back from Tenerife by 21-19 but it wasn’t enough to claw their way back into the game and it ended up 63-77. For both teams it was more about loosening up for the new season, the five new additions to the home squad will have learnt a lot about the standard of the Spanish league and the style of play their coaches favour. Ticket pricing was spot on at five euros in the stands or 10 euros for a court side seat, it had the desired effect of packing the hall out with 1,500 people. There was a fair sprinkling of Tenerife vests to show that some regulars had traveled down the motorway but the atmosphere was more subdued than in La Laguna where drums and chanting help to fire up the players. If you want to see a league game check out the clubs website, hopefully Adeje will try to stage an annual game in the south, there’s definately a demand.