End of Eurocup Final: Bilbao 64-75 Lokomotiv
Lokomotiv Kuban Champ Eurocup 2012-13 - Final Charleroi 2013 - EC12

Another big play by Hendrix on a steal and save flying out of bounds just when Bilbao was on a break, still with time to make a run. Time is running out quickly as they trade baskets at 52-67 with 2:30 to play. Aleks Maric has the first double-double for Lokomotiv, 12 points and 10 rebounds. Hendrix is at 14 and 9, while Calathes has 10 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists. But here comes Bilbao, with a push from Milan Rakovic, with a three-point play, followed by Lopez and Mumbru making layups. It's 59-67 with 1:30 left. But Rakovic's shot rims out with a minute left. Lokomotiv is going to hold on for the Eurocup title! Well-deserved. There was no doubt about it!
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 23:00 CET
Fourth quarter, 35:00: Bilbao 50-65 Lokomotiv
Aleks Maric - Lokomotiv Kuban - Final Charleroi 2013 - EC12

Give it up for the Lokomotiv defense, with 4 scoreless minutes to start the fourth quarter with a 0-5 run finished from downtwon by Calathes at 45-59. Another makeable shot misses by Hamilton before Mumbru gets called for an unsportsmanlike foul. Jasaitis hits 1 of 2 free throws and Kalnietis feeds Maric for what could be the back-breaker for Bilbao: 45-62. The men in black, as much as they are trying on defense, have to make some shots now. Not happening: two more misses means that Bilbao is 16 of 54 for the game (two- and three-pointers combined). That's tough: almost impossible to win that way. Six minutes left: 45-62. Bilbao needs a miracle. Instead, Jasaitis gives it to Lokomotiv, a step-back rainbow triple to beat the shot-clock and make it 45-65. Not a record because Alba was held to 44 points in the final in 2010. But great Lokomotiv defense anyway.
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 22:39 CET
End of third quarter - Bilbao 45-54 Lokomotiv

Free throws by Moerman and Lopez has the difference back to single digits, 38-47. But Lokomotiv answers with a beautiful play, two touch passes for a Hendrix dunk. Vasileiadis gets the Bilbao fans on their feet with another triple, but Hendrix does so for the Lokomotiv fans going behind his back with a pass for Aleks Maric. Statistically, these teams aren't so far apart: more or less even in rebounds, assists, steals. Bilbao is shooting 29% on two-pointers, but 37% on threes, compared to 52% and 12% for Lokomotiv. Rakovic starts a Bilbao reaction with a reverse layup at 45-32. A rare shot inside that goes down easy for Bilbao, but when Vasileiadis misses 2 free throws, Hendrix makes him pay with a layup. Kalnietis misses a fastbreak three-pointer that could have been a killer. The quarter ends 45-54. Lokomotiv is 10 good minutes away from the trophy.
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 22:26 CET
Third quarter, 25:00 - Bilbao 34-45 Lokomotiv

Open miss from the arc by Mumbru to start second half. Bilbao is missing makeable shots, and maybe getting frustrated, as Mumbru commits a turnover. The bad luck continues as a layup by Zisis goes in and out. Two more misses inside, until Moerman goes to free throw line, hitting 1 of 2, the first points after 2 scoreless minutes of the second half. Bilbao hasn't lost ground because their defense is strong. Brown makes both his free throws, however, and then drops a baseline jumper as Lokomotiv takes its biggest lead, 31-42. Even so, you can't say they are running away with this yet. And after letting Bilbao hand around, Vasileiadis strokes a triple from the top. But Calathes answers breaking down his man for a layup-plus-free throw combo. This Lokomotiv team has a lot of answers!
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 22:14 CET
Halftime - Bilbao 30-38 Lokomotiv
Richard Hendrix - Lokomotiv Kuban - Final Charleroi 2013 - EC12

Hendrix takes over inside for back-to-back baskets, forcing a Bilbao timeout. Nobody is stopping him yet: 10 points and 4 rebounds in less than 10 minutes on the floor. Bilbao will need an answer for him on defense, but instead comes out of the timeout and lets Maric, not the fastest guy in the world, make an open-court steal. At the other end, Hendrix collects a missed three-pointer and gets wacked going back up. He's on the floor for a minute, shaken up. Lokomotiv coach Evgeny Pashutin takes advantage to insert Jimmy Baron, who's perfect for the season from the foul line, to make the free throws at 28-35. It's a 4-17 swing now for Lokomotiv. Bilbao fights for 4 offensive rebounds on the same possession, trying to turn the tide, but their shooters have gone cold. They are just 8 for 25 inside after Vasileiadis misses a layup. And Lokomotiv has only 1 block so far. Vasileiadis ends Bilbao's misery with a very fortunate two-pointer, off-balance to beat the shot-clock buzzer. The Bilbao fans are still into it, but their team is down 30-38 at halftime and Lokomotiv has re-gained control.
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 21:52 CET
Second quarter, 15:00 - Bilbao 28-29 Lokomotiv

The triples keep falling for Bilbao, with Adrien Moerman left alone in the corner. This is getting to be an issue for the Lokomotiv's defense. Moerman and another sub, Roger Grimau, now get loose inside for layups, the latter on a nice dish by Nikos Zisis. Bykov calms Lokomotiv and Brown, very active, drops a couple free throws at 24-20. The first punch was Lokomotiv's but Bilbao came up with the second. The MVP, Nick Calathes, hasn't scored yet, but he has 4 assists as Lokomotiv gets within 24-22. But Grimau, the former Euroleague winner, breaks loose for a fastbreak layup before Maric twirls for a banked in hook shot. Bykov ties it, and now Calathes rips the cords with his first points, from downtown, as Lokomotiv takes the lead back, 28-29.
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 21:37 CET
End of first quarter - Bilbao 17-16 Lokomotiv!

Lokomotiv on the break, Nick Calathes no-look pass to Derrick Brown, who detonates a huge dunk. Even the Bilbao fans had to appreciate that. First substitute for Lokomotiv is center Aleks Maric, while Bilbao brings on Raul Lopez and Milovan Rakovic. There's a lull in scoring after the dunk, but after the rebound of the game so far, by Hervelle, Rakovic tips in a miss by Lopez to make it 12-16. Lokomotiv goes with a small lineup, bringing in Jimmy Baron to play with Calathes and Kalnietis. Mumbru comes up big with a reverse finger roll for Bilbao. Brown saves a possession of Lokomotiv with a head's up play, throwing the ball off Hervelle, who was down on the endline. It's a rough, physical game, but also being played at quick speed. Last laugh of the first quarter goes to Bilbao: another three-pointer, from Raul Lopez for its second lead of a very good game.
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 21:11 CET
First quarter, 5:00 - Bilbao 10-12 Lokomotive!

Mantas Kalnietis hot early with two baskets for Lokomotiv, while Kostas Vasileiadis split those with a triple, bringing Bilbao fans out of their seats. They were soon quiet, however, as Kalnietis scored again, joined by Richard Hendrix and Derrick Brown, on a tip-in, forcing the first timeout. Bilbao came out of it and got the crowd going again on a nice cut by Axel Hervelle, the only Belgian in the game. Lokomotiv is forcing the action inside, getting to the basket, as Hendrix scored again, but Alex Mumbru gave Bilbao another triple and Lamont Hamilton's baseline jumper made it 10-12. Anybody's game.
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 21:11 CET
Eurocup Final is underway!!
Tip Off - Eurocup Final Charleroi

The Spiroudome in Charleroi, Belgium is hopping for the start of the Eurocup Final. Uxue Bilbao Basket has a ton of fans at one end of the court, while those who travelled all the way from Krasnodar, Russia for Lokomotiv are trying their best at the other end to be heard, too! The award for best-dressed fan goes to a Bilbao supporter who came equipped with a full, although fake, beard like his team's sharpshooter, Kostas Vasileiadis. Let's see if the fake beard stays on all game. The latest news is that both teams are fully healthy, so expect a great Eurocup Final tonight. Prior to the game, Lokomotiv guard Nick Calathas, this season's MVP, and Bilbao boss Fotis Katsikaris, the Coach of the Year, received their respective trophies at midcourt. Now it's game time! Here we go! Next stop, the trophy and a pass to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague next season!
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 21:00 CET
Van den Spiegel knows everybody!
Tomas Van den Spiegel at the 2013 Eurocup Final Charleroi

The most successful Belgian player in European club basketball is in the building! Of course, Tomas Van den Spiegel did not miss the opportunity to attend the Eurocup Final between Uxue Bilbao Basket and PBC Lokomotiv Kuban. A two-time Euroleague champion with CSKA Moscow in 2006 and 2008, Van den Spiegel has good friends in both teams and sees this game as a great opportunity for Belgian basketball. "It's fun for us and an opportunity to promote basketball. It is more fun for us because Axel (Hervelle) is there. He is a big name in Belgian sports. We are all looking forward to it. Everybody that I know is coming to the game tonight because these are two very good teams. I am very excited!," Van den Spiegel admits. As everyone we asked around, he cannot pick a favourite in arguably one of the most unpredictable finals in European club basketball history. "Nobody has a clue about who will win the game. It is tough to predict," he said. About his personal favourite, Van den Spiegel will be happy no matter what. "I have a coach and two former teammates on one side and four former teammates on the other side! Nikos (Zisis) and Axel are two of my closest basketball friends but I went through a lot with the Pashutin brother and Aleksey (Savrasenko). I will be happy for whoever wins it!
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 19:50 CET
Bilbao prepares the Final!
Aaron Jackson wearing an Athletic jersey

Eurocupmania continues in Bilbao, as everyone wants to follow the "Men in Black" in their biggest challenge ever - trying to win the Eurocup title. Uxue Bilbao Basket has a good relationship with the city's signature football club, Athletic Club de Bilbao. For instance, when Bilbao Basket made it to the Spanish League finals, point guard Aaron Jackson - now with CSKA Moscow - and All-Eurocup first team selection Kostas Vasileiadis celebrated with an Athletic jersey. A group of Athletic supporters, Peña Adiskideak, has made sure that a lot of people follow the game by installing giant screens in its Santutxu, a famous area full of bars, near El Karmelo street and close to a metro station. The organizers want to make sure that as many people as possible support Bilbao Basket in this historical game. In order to get ready for it, a signature Basque Country squid dish - txipirones en su tinta - will be given for free before the game.
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 18:20 CET
It’s a family affair!
Aleks and Stevan Maric at the 2013 Eurocup Final - Lokomotiv Kuban - Final Charleroi 2013 - EC12

The Eurocup Final has become a family affair! Friends and family of both players from both teams are coming from all over the world to watch the Eurocup Finals. The Calathes are arriving from different destinations to see Nick lift the Eurocup MVP trophy before the game - and hopefully see Lokomotiv win! His parents came from Florida, U.S.A. while older brother Pat, who plays power forward for Maccabi Haifa in Israel, was lucky that his team's game was earlier this week and he can attend the event. The Zisis family came to see Nikos in his first Eurocup final and are staying at a very famous friend's house - Tomas Van den Spiegel, his former teammates with CSKA, is a lifelong friend who volunteered to host the Zisis. Perhaps nobody covered more distance than Aleks Maric's father, Stevan Maric, who made his way from their home in Australia to watch the game. These are just three example on how much the Eurocup title means for both the players and everyone around them!
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 16:25 CET
Former Spirou star returns as president !
Predrag Savovic, president Uxue Bilbao - EC12 (photo Bilbao Basket)

Uxue Bilbao Basket has cancelled its morning practice to save all of its power for the big game. Lokomotiv Kuban opted to have a shootaround this morning, with the chance to work on some final details - two very different approaches to this important game. We decided to talk to Bilbao president Predrag Savovic, a former shooter who played for Spirou Charleroi in the 2003-04 season. He was our special analyst in the first-ever Eurocup final played at the Spiroudome, in which Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem upset Real Madrid in 2004. He liked his time in this city and hopes to find more success in Charleroi. "It seems that history repeats itself - I hope! I played in Charleroi and we won the Belgian championship that season and have three players on the team that won the Eurocup in this city," Savovic remembers. "Let's hope this can be repeated. Sincerely, I am very happy to be part of this team - the last nine years have been fantastic for me. It is time for us to show that Bilbao Basket is a great club with a great project - the fact that 2,500 fans are coming from Bilbao shows that we do live basketball in the city. Hopefully we can respond and give them back with the trophy."

Savovic and Bilbao have worked for years to have this opportunity and hope to make the most out of it. "Our project has a clear line of doing things in the future. We knew that one day we would be in the position to play a European final. That opportunity is present in Charleroi, so I am happy personally and professionally," he said. But as a former shooter, what did he think about Bilbao not practicing before the final? "That's a decision that our coach and his staff have to make. I am sure they have a good reason to do it. As a shooter, you are not affected by that. If you are a shooter, you work for a moment like this for weeks, months and even years. I think that the team is 100% ready - physically, mentally and tactically. On the other hand, Lokomotiv Kuban is a great team that beat great teams to get here. It will be a great basketball shown all over Europe. We will see what happens!"
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 15:03 CET
Eurosport 2's Sasha Djordjevic sizes up the final!


As in recent years, Sasha Djordjevic will be Eurosport 2's star colour commentator in this year's Eurocup final. One of the best point guards in European basketball history, Djordjevic will always be remember for his game-winning three-pointer in the 1992 Euroleague final - which was one of his many highlights as a player, as he will also a World and Eurocup champion - not to mention an Olympic silver medalist - with former Yugoslavia. Eurocupbasketball.com had the chance to talk to Djordjevic and he broke down the game for us. "Well, Bilbao needs to play as if it was another game, but it is difficult because there is a lot more expectation from the media, fans... everybody! Every player, coach and member of the staff has to get ready in his best way possible. Of course, experience matters and Bilbao has it - it already played two Eurocup Finals and Lokomotiv is new in this situation. Still, Lokomotiv has a coach - and just as Bilbao, some players - that won the competition before," he told us. 

Djordjevic remembers his playing days when he talks about the new competition format. "A single-game final has its charm and it will be a historical one - both teams fighting for a continental title for the first time. It a fair way to access to the Euroleague. In order to go to the final, you have to go past several rounds, just like in the old days - in the Korac Cup or Cup Winners' Cup. In my opinion, changing the format to a single-game final makes a lot of sense. Everyone focuses on this game and I like that a lot," Djordjevic said. Asked about the biggest key to this game, Djordjevic has no doubts about it. "I expected a balanced game and point guards will be the decisive factor in this game. Both point guards duos are among the best in Europe - Raul Lopez and Nikos Zisis against Mantas Kalnietis and Nick Calathes. There are very different playmakers but their team depends a lot of them."
Charleroi, Belgium - April 13, 13:00 CET