Turkish Airlines Euroleague
December 13, 2013
Final: BC Khimki 77-68 Valencia Basket
Khimki sticks with success inside, getting a couple baskets by Loncar, one assisted by Gelabale, but Valencia finds its mark from outside. First De Colo and then Caner-Medley rain the first threes in a long time in this game, and suddenly it's 64-63 with 3:20 to play. Timeout Khimki and a whole new ballgame. Out of the timeout, Valencia's press forces a Khimki turnover, but Claver's try from downtown to take the lead misses. Quinn, who committed the turnover, sticks a huge jumper but Caner-Medley does him one better from the arc, and it's all tied, 66-66, with 2:30 to play! Next, the ball moves around the perimeter to Fridzon, who with another assist by Gelabale knocks it down. Loncar, under the basket, gives a scream at 69-66 with 1:55 to play. Quinn goes to the line, fouled in the closing seconds of a possession and sticks both, 71-66. Then Loncar comes up with a steal. Under a minute. This cup is starting to look yellow as Valencia fouls Quinn and he hits another pair with 49 seconds left. Who says Russian fans don't rock? The just hit the roof on free throws. It's 73-66 with 49 seconds left. Valencia gets 2 back, and a steal, but Gelabale's block sends Nielsen for a slam! It's over. Khimki has its first-ever international trophy after several tries and is going back to the Euroleague next season. Happy Easter in Russia, for sure!
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 18:23 CET
After 35 minutes, BC Khimki 60-55 Valencia Basket
Another drop-back shot like Kelati's to end the third quarter, this one by Fridzon from almost the same spot, keeps Khimki up early in the fourth. Just talked with CSKA Moscow superstar Andrei Kirilenko, who is commenting the game with Eurosport and rooting for Khimki. "Of course, it would be great for Russian basketball to get another team in the Euroleague," Kirilenko said at courtside. "Of course, I have some friends on the team, too, so yes I am rooting for Khimki." And when Fridzon steals to feed Sergey Monya for a fastbreak slam at 58-53, Kirilenko leads the applause as Valencia calls for a timeout. Lishchuk again lifts Valencia with a dunk straight down the middle. Mickael Gelabale, just in the game, comes out of nowhere for a tip-in at 60-55. Teams are a combined 5 of 25 on three-pointers - perhaps predictable after two games in 24 hours - but if anyone here starts shooting straight, with a 60-55 score and 5 minutes left, they could claim the trophy.
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 18:12 CET
After three quarters, BC Khimki 52-50 Valencia Basket
Valencia completes its comeback with Lishchuk scoring for the lead and Markovic adding a free throw to it at 43-45. Khimki gets Nielsen, Loncar and Quinn back in the game quick. Nielsen provides the ball movement and Quinn the wide-open triple to take back the lead. Loncar goes up and under for a basket and adds free throws to make it 50-45 after Valencia got hit with consecutive turnovers, one unforced and the other a charge drawn by Kelati. Another momentum change? Loncar leaves the court having hurt his arm on a rebound tussle with Newley. In the last 1:30 of the quarter, Caner-Medley steals and dunks, storms the boards for the final offensive rebound, and ties it up for Valencia, 50-50. But a fullcourt pass to Kelati, who turns and shoots a sweet jumper, has Khimki clinging toa 52-50 lead. Expect a thriller from here.
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 17:57 CET
After 25 minutes, BC Khimki 43-42 Valencia Basket
Precious few three-pointers taken so far as Martinez tries one - and misses - to start the second half, but gets a two-pointer to fall afterwards. Khimki was 14 for 23 on two-pointers in the first half, Valencia 11 for 12 on free throws, and almost nothing fell from downtwon. Let's see if the long shot comes into play in what's left of this game. Zhukanenko lets a pass go through his hands one time down, but doesn't let it happen the next, rising up to rock the rim with another jam. Planinic reignites with another great drive, but Lishchuk responds for Valencia with a supertough basket and the free throw that came with it. Caner-Medley tries a couple unsuccessful long shots but gets to the line to cut it to 41-37, as close as Valencia has been in a awhile. Again, it's Zhukanenko dunking, but Valencia gets another three-point play from Lishchuk and Caner-Medley gets back to the foul line to make it 43-42. Should be a great last 15 minutes.
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 17:45 CET
Halftime: BC Khimki 37-30 Valencia Basket
Pushkov's slam raises the roof, and why not? A guy who played almost nothing all year coming up big early in the final! His minutes without Loncar on the floor are huge for Khimki. Just as huge is Caner-Medley, who's not All-Eurocup First Team for nothing. His tough-as-nails three-point play brings Valencia back from the brink. But Khimki had another big young 'un up its sleeve, and when Alexey Zukhanenko dunks, the crowd goes wild again. Valencia only got the free throw line after that, while Planninic stole and scored, hit a free throw, and walked down the clock to step back and drain a huge shot with 2 seconds left to make it 37-30. When Caner-Medley's three-quarters' court shot took off it was too late. But it landed, the second such shot from so far discounted this weekend (after Yotam Halperin hitting another before halftime of Spartak's semifinal loss).The story of the game so far is Planinic: 7 for 8 on two-poiners for 15 points, but also 3 assists, best on the floor for either team!
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 17:21 CET
After 15 minutes, BC Khimki 28-21 Valencia Basket
Khimki hit hard to open the second quarter with a one-hander by Fridzon, a steal and baseline jumper by Chris Quinn and another basket by Planinic to go up 22-17. Nonetheless, Vitor Faverani answered two of those as the hard defense of the first quarter gave way to up-and-down scoring. Planinic was inspired and drove strong for his third layup in a row to make it 26-19 and force a Valencia timeout. With each new basket, the Khimki crowd got more excited. Remember, Planinic wants this as much as anyone after having played in four Euroleague Final Fours without ever getting his hands on a trophy. Khimki has four guys on the floor who can pass: Planinic, Quinn, Fridzon and Nielsen. Loncar is the only big man, and when he goes down, fouled hard, the crowd holds its breath. But still, the home people in yellow make it to the midway point of the second quarter with hard-won control.
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 17:05 CET
After 1 quarter, BC Khimki 16-15 Valencia Basket
What a block by Nik Caner-Medley! Caner-Medley sent Thomas Kelati's shot to the stands. The game is going to be a physical battle and only one team will be standing at the end of it. Caner-Medley, in his first continental final, is in his right environment, playing physical and aggressive. Anton Pushkov steps on court and immediately delivers with a layup. He had totalled 52 Eurocup minutes this season before the game. Rafa Martinez hits a deep jumper and De Colo makes Valencia restore an 11-12 edge. Valencia has not taken a three-point shot in 8 minutes and has picked up 5 turnovers already, which speaks wonders about Khimki's defense. Coach Rimas Kurtinaitis takes a calculated by bringing Loncar back on the floor. He swishes a turnaround jumper and Kelati strikes from downtown but Valencia finds its favourite glue guy - Florent Pietrus. A three-pointer, a great defensive stop and Valencia is within 16-15 after 10 minutes. What an intense, exciting game!
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 16:55 CET
After 5 minutes, BC Khimki 9-6 Valencia Basket
An eight players that won the Eurocup title in 2010, Marko Marinovic, is present in the stands to watch an exciting game. Victor Claver was first to score, as Khimki tried to run its offense through Sergey Monya and Zoran Planinic in the opening minutes. Just as in 2010, Valencia is trying to win the title through strong, aggressive defense, forcing 24 second violations and playing with great intensity. Khimki double-teams down low, forcing Valencia to pick up turnovers. A jumper by Zoran Planinic gives Khimki its first lead, 4-2. Efor Vyaltsev fired up most of the crowd with a three-pointer but Kresimir Loncar leaves the game with two fouls and Valencia starts finding better options around the basket. A layup by Serhiy Lishchuk keeps Valencia within 9-6 midway through the first quarter.
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 16:35 CET
2011-12 winners awarded at Eurocup Finals
The winners of individual trophies this season were awarded by Euroleague Basketball President & CEO Jordi Bertomeu right before the start of the final between hosting BC Khimki Moscow Region and Valencia Basket. Tha awardees were the All-Eurocup team members: Patrick Beverley of Spartak SPB, who also got the award for being the MVP of the season, Zoran Planinic of BC Khimki, Nik-Caner Medley of Valencia Basket, Ronnie Seibutis of Lietuvos Rytas andJonas Valanciunas also of Lietuvos Rytas, who also got the Rising Star award. Jure Zdovc, coach of Spartak SPB, was also presented with the award for having been named Coach of the Year. Congratulations!
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 16:35 CET
Here we go!
The third-place game on Sunday at the Eurocup Finals has ended with Lietuvos Rytas getting the consolation of a victory to go home to Lithuania with. Both Rytas and Spartak St. Petersburg deserve credit, first for making it this far, and today for putting on a great effort in the third-place game after losing tough semifinals just 24 hours ago. That, of course, leaves the marquee matchup for the Eurocup title, BC Khimki Moscow Region vs. Valencia Basket, with tip off coming up soon. The arena is filling up and expected to sell out despite a big Russian holiday in progress as Khimki tries to win its first-ever international trophy and Valencia shoots for its third Eurocup title. Khimki lost the only Eurocup final it appeared in before this, while Valencia is two for two, having won in 2003 against Krka Novo Mesto of Slovenia and again in 2010 against Alba Berlin. Tipoff is soon, so don't leave your seat until we have a new Eurocup champion tonight!
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 15:10 CET
Hours away from a new champion
The Eurocup season reaches its zenith later today when BC Khimki Moscow Region hosts Valencia Basket in the title game for the trophy and a ticket to next season's Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Among the many fascinating sidelights to this particular final are 7 players between both teams who were teammates on Valencia when it won the Eurocup two years ago. Valencia players Rafa Martinez, Serhiy Lishchuk, Victor Claver, Florent Pietrus and Nando De Colo will encounter their ex-teammates, Thomas Kelati and Matt Nielsen, on Khimki’s home court today with a trophy sitting in between them, waiting to be grabbed. All are good friends, it was clear late last night in the Eurocup Finals headquarters hotel, shortly after both had won tough semifinals. Knots of players in Valencia orange and Khimki yellow were hanging around the lobby together, laughing it up. There were also ties by country, with Americans like Nik Caner-Medley of Valencia and Chris Quinn of Khimki sharing some laughs, while another table full of Australians – Nielsen and Valencia teammates Brad Newley and A.J. Oglivy. It was nice to see that kind of comraderie, knowing that neither team will show mercy to the other once the ball goes up and both a title and a pass to next season’s Euroleague are waiting to be won this afternoon.
Another fascinating aspect of this game are the two men on the benches, who were two of the greatest shooters in the world when they played against each other many years ago.
For the visitors from Valencia, head coach Velimir Perasovic arrived less than three months ago and has quickly made his mark, enough so that the club has already extended his original short-term club contract until 2014. Valencia got a born winner in Perasovic, who as a player was a three-time Euroleague champion with the historic Jugoplastika Split teams of his native Croatia between 1989 and 1991, one of only two three-peat continental champions in European basketball history. In the middle year of those three, Perasovic was also a world champion gold medalist with the Yugoslav national team. He went on to win Olympics silver with the Croatian national team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, losing only to the famed Dream Team of the United States. Within months, he took his talents to Spain, where for the next decade he was a multiple Spanish League scoring leader and helped Tau Ceramica win its first trophy ever, the Spanish King's Cup.
A year after becoming a head coach, Perasovic returned to Tau Ceramica at midseason, quickly repeated the Spanish King's Cup title and then reached the 2006 Final Four in Prague. The following season, he helped send Tau to the Final Four again, but had to leave the club during the Top 16 for medical reasons. Perasovic has since coached Cibona Zagreb to two Croatian titles and two appearances in the Euroleague Top 16, which he did also last year with Efes Pilsen of Turkey. Now, he has a chance to lift his first European trophy as a head coach
"Winning this trophy would mean a lot to me," Perasovic said hours before the final. "I think that for any coach, winning a European competition is a great satisfaction. And for me also. I hope that I can lift the trophy."
Heading the bench of BC Khimki Moscow Region is just the latest stop in a fascinating career for Rimas Kurtinaitis. He was at the center of one of the biggest shifts in basketball history when he scored 28 points to lead the Soviet Union to the gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, in what is still among the biggest upsets ever in the sport. That victory ushered in the decision by the FIBA and the United States to allow professionals to play in the 1992 Barcelona summer games, where the phrase Dream Team was coined. With the new Lithuanian national team - the legendary one with the tie-dye team uniforms - Kurtinaitis won bronze medals at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta games. In between, he became the first European to ever play in the Australian League, with Townsville in 1993. Then, back in Lithuania near the end of his playing career, he simultaneously served as the Lithuanian minister of sport. Altogether, Kurtinaitis would play 21 seasons as a pro, until age 42, with stops in Russia, Germany, Spain, Australia, France and Ukraine. He won the Soviet Union title five times between 1982 and 1987, once with CSKA Moscow and four times with Zalgiris Kauans, as well as Spanish League title with Real Madrid.
Kurtinaitis finished his playing career in Azerbaijan for the capital city's team, Baku, which also gave him his start as a head coach. After four seasons on Baku's bench, he spent time coaching Ural Great of Russia and Sakalai in back home in Lithuania. He then moved to the Lithuanian capital to lead Lietuvos Rytas for two seasons during which they won the 2009 Eurocup title with a massive comeback in the final against his current team, Khimki. After a season with VEF Riga of Latvia, he was hired last year by Khimki and now has them back in the Eurocup title game. Tonight, Kurtinaitis has the chance to become the first coach to win the Eurocup title twice, and thereby make his Euroleague debut on the bench next season.
Khimki, Russia - April 15, 11:02 CET