Spain and Russia reign supreme in EuroCup history

Mar 21, 2020 by Print

One way to calculate the strength of a country in European basketball is to see how many of its clubs knock at the door of the continent's top competition – and get in. The proving grounds for access to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague for more than 17 years has been the 7DAYS EuroCup, and by any measure, Spain and Russia have been the most consistent countries at rising above the pack.

Actually, Spain can be considered the most dominant country in the EuroCup over the life of the competition, with Spanish teams having collected seven of the 17 titles and having finished as runners-up seven more times.

The team that has shined more than any other in the EuroCup has been Valencia Basket. The club from the banks of the Mediterranean Sea has hoisted the trophy a record four times – in 2002-03, 2009-10, 2013-14 and 2018-19 – while also finishing runner-up in 2011-12 and 2016-17.

The 2017 crown ended up going to another Spanish club, Unicaja Malaga, in the third game of their final series, on Valencia's floor. That was one of two all-Spanish match-ups, along with Joventut Badalona knocking off Girona in a single-game final in 2007-08. The fourth Spanish team to taste EuroCup glory was Real Madrid, taking the trophy in 2006-07 after being runner-up in 2003-04.

Three Spanish clubs failed at the final hurdle with Cajasol Seville losing in the 2010-11 title game, Bilbao Basket being downed in 2012-13 and Gran Canaria getting clipped in 2014-15.

All told, at least one Spanish club has reached the semifinals in 15 of the 17 EuroCup seasons, with 2005-06 and 2017-18 being the outliers. And in just three other seasons – 2004-05, 2008-09 and 2015-16 – was a Spanish team not represented in the finals.

The second biggest power in EuroCup basketball has been Russia. Four Russian clubs – the same number as Spain – have lifted the EuroCup trophy a total of five times: Khimki Moscow Region in 2012 and 2015, Dynamo Moscow in 2006, UNICS Kazan in 2011 and Lokomotiv Kuban in 2013.

And for five years straight it was a Spanish-Russian battle for EuroCup supremacy with teams from those countries facing off for the crown. Four times, the Russian teams won. UNICS defeated Cajasol Seville in 2011; Khimki downed Valencia in 2012; and Lokomotiv knocked off Bilbao in 2013. Valencia finally broke the Russian blockade in 2014 by getting past UNICS. Khimki came back for Russia in 2015 and beat Gran Canaria for the trophy.

Just like Spain, Russian clubs have almost always been in the hunt for the crown. At least one Russian team has been a semifinalist in 12 of the last 14 seasons, and three times there were two of them among the last four.

Besides Valencia and Khimki, the only other club with multiple EuroCup crowns is Lithuanian side Rytas Vilnius, which won in 2004-05 and 2008-09 and was runner-up in 2006-07.

The only other clubs to bring home the trophy were Hapoel Jerusalem of Israel in 2003-04 and the Turkish duo of Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul in 2015-16 and Darussafaka Istanbul in 2017-18. Those three all won the title in their only appearances in the deciding games, while Slovenian club Krka (2002-03), Greek sides Makedonikos (2004-05) and Aris Thessaloniki (2005-06), and Strasbourg of France (2015-16) all lost the one time they reached the final stage.

In total, seven clubs have booked their tickets to the title bout at least twice, but the only one to still be empty-handed is ALBA Berlin of Germany, which both times was stopped by Valencia – in 2009-10 and 2018-19. It shouldn't really be a surprise given the history that Spain has been the dominant force in the EuroCup since the beginning.