On this day 11 years ago, the EuroCup Final Eight in Turin was in full swing. Eight teams - Dynamo Moscow, Hemofarm Vrsac, Benetton Treviso, Lietuvos Rytas, Valencia Vilnius, Khimki Moscow Region, Bilbao and Zadar - had survived the previous stages of the season to make it to the final tournament. The quarterfinals had some upsets and on March 31, it was time for the semifinals, which paired Hemofarm with Rytas and Khimki with Bilbao.
Rytas gets to the title game again
The first game of the day sent Hemofarm to face Rytas and the latter escaped with a 68-73 win. Rytas dominated for most of the game after leading 14-24 after 10 minutes, but Hemofarm was never far behind and with 3 minutes to play, Hemofarm tied the game at 63-63 thanks to Nebojsa Joksimovic, who finished the game with 24 points on 5-of-8 three-point shooting. Rytas had a team effort led by three names: Chuck Eidson, Mindaugas Lukauskis and, most of all, Marius Petravicius. They combined for 51 points and had the help of Arturas Jomantas in the final stretch to put Rytas in the final.
Khimki reaches first title game ever
In the second semifinal, Khimki bested Bilbao 79-73 in another game that was close at the end. Khimki started strong and took a double-digit lead midway through the third quarter, 51-41. However, Bilbao never gave up and made it 71-67 with less than 3 minutes to go, but Kelly McCarty had the final push for Khimki to sneak into the title game. Carlos Delfino led the winners with 18 points and Vitaly Fridzon added 14 points plus 8 rebounds. 13-for-29 shooting from beyond the arc made a huge difference for Khimki as Bilbao, which was led by Luke Recker's 21 points, got stuck at 8-of-24.
A showcase for future staple names
The EuroCup has always been a great source of names that have ended up among the basketball greats on the continent. There was plenty of talent in the Final Eight in Turin in 2009, even just among the semifinalists. Hemofarm had young talent that would get to greater highs in their careers including guard Stefan Markovic and big men Milan Macvan and Boban Marjanovic. Rytas had other names that would become classics like Chuck Eidson, Milko Bjelica and Marius Petravicius. Khimki and Bilbao boasted more veteran rosters with Jorge Garbajosa, Kelly McCarty, Timofey Mozgov, Janis Blums, Marko Banic and Renaldas Seibutis.
What happened next
In the title game, Rytas captured its second EuroCup title with an 80-74 victory. Marius Petravicius led the winners and earned MVP honors of the tournament. This also marked Rytas's return to the EuroLeague thanks to the berth earned with the EuroCup crown. Rytas was coached by Rimas Kurtinaitis, the man who would coach Khimki into its first EuroCup title three years later.