The 2009-10 EuroCup season came to an end with a memorable championship game in which Valencia Basket and ALBA Berlin fought for the title at Fernando Buesa Arena in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Valencia had a chance to win its second EuroCup title after being the competition's original champion in 2003. ALBA was in its first EuroCup final and was looking to win its second continental trophy, after having lifted the 1994-95 Korac Cup crown. In the semifinals, played a day earlier, Valencia defeated Panellinios OPAP Athens 92-80 behind 20 points from All-EuroCup guard Nando De Colo. Meanwhile, ALBA edged Bizkaia Bilbao Basket 77-70 as Adam Chubb led the winners with 27 points. The title game would mark the first EuroCup meeting ever between ALBA and Valencia.
ALBA fans beat volcano
Back in April 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland had erupted, spewing volcanic ash into the atmosphere and wreaking havoc on air traffic in some 20 countries across Europe, including Germany, for six days beginning on April 14. Indeed, most of the flights from Germany to Spain were canceled, but ALBA fans took some risks to get to Vitoria-Gasteiz anyway. Some travelled to Munich to catch a flight with no guarantee that the airport would still be open. Others drove all the way through Germany and France to Vitoria-Gasteiz. When the ALBA fans arrived at the EuroCup Finals, they received a heroes' welcome from their Spanish hosts. Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu greeted the fans personally at Fernando Buesa Arena and the host club, EuroLeague side Baskonia, gave them a hospitality room with free food and drink. The fairy tale did not finish the right away, though.
Valencia breaks defensive records
Valencia limited ALBA to just 44 points, tying the lowest score ever in a European final. AEK Athens lost against Kinder Bologna 58-44 in the 1998 EuroLeague Championship Game. In fact, Valencia set several defensive records for a EuroCup final by holding ALBA to the fewest two-point shots made (8), worst two-point shooting percentage (29.6%) and lowest team PIR (34). Valencia only hit 4-of-23 shots from downtown (17.4%) and had 8 assists, but two-point shots made the difference. Valencia, by contrast, hit 22 of 31 shots inside the arc for an excellent an excellent 71% rate. The Spanish powerhouse ended up winning all four quarters, something that no other team has managed to do that in a EuroCup final, ever.
About the game
Valencia beat ALBA 44-67 for its second EuroCup title. Matt Nielsen was named Eurocup Finals MVP and his frontcourt mate, Kosta Perovic, paced the winners with 17 points. Head coach Neven Spahija, who has lifted five different domestic league trophies around the continent and reached the ULEB Cup final in 2003, won his first European title, as did almost every player on his team's roster. Thomas Kelati added 13 points and Marko Marinovic 12 for the winners. Derrick Byars and Steffen Hamann scored 9 apiece for Berlin in defeat. ALBA led 10-8 late in the first quarter but Valencia used an 0-11 run to get the lead for good, extending it to 22-36 at halftime and then again to 35-60 with 5 minutes left, sealing the deal.
What Happened Next
Valencia went on to win two more EuroCup titles, in 2014 and 2019, allowing Rafa Martinez to become the first player to win the competition three times. Kelati and Nielsen won another EuroCup title with Khimki Moscow Region in 2012, downing Valencia in the championship game. ALBA returned to the EuroCup Finals in 2019 but once again Valencia stood on its way. It was closer the second time, though. ALBA took the best-of-three series back to Spain but Valencia prevailed in Game 3 at La Fonteta, 89-63. Nine years later, thousands of ALBA fans saw their team in a EuroCup final, without uncomfortable trips outside Berlin. Indeed, ALBA beat Valencia 95-92 in overtime in Game 2 of the 2019 Finals, but it was not enough to claim the title.