On their home floor, BC Khimki have been crowned Eurocup champions for the first time after a 77-68 win over Valencia.
The Russians have dented Valencia’s hopes of a third Eurocup title, something that has never been done and with their win, book a spot in next year’s Euroleague.
Zoran Planinic, who was a rock for the hosts all game long was rightly named Finals MVP, leading the victors with 19 points overall.
It was a tense last two minutes as Nik Caner-Medley tied the game at 66 with a big three-pointer for the Spanish side, but from then it all fell apart and for Khimki, it all went right. Vitaly Fridzon sent the home crowd into a frenzy as he buried a three to give the Russians a 69-66 with 1:56 left. Nando De Colo picked up two fouls in less than a minute to foul out of the game – and Chris Quinn iced the game with four free throws – to seal it.
“We just have been going for this cup since seven months ago, from the beginning of the season,” victorious Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis said.
“I was talking before about us losing our Euroleague chance in the qualifying round. At the time, during preparation, we had no time to prepare, because a lot of our players were on national teams in the European Championships. We had three practices together, I think, before the qualifying round. If I remember, Zoran [Planinic] was injured, and we went to Charleroi without him. Four of our Russian guys were in the final of the European Championships. This is, subjectively, one of the reasons why we lost then.”
For Khimki, Kresimir Loncar scored 14 points and also Quinn added 11 for the winners.
Caner-Medley led all scorers with 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for Valencia. He was also perfect from the line with a solid 11/11 attempted and made. Understandably, he was drained by the game’s end and did not deserve to be on the losing end. The work the American forward put in for 32 minutes was phenomenal.
“We lost our emotions at the end of the game,” Caner-Medley said. “The referees did their best tonight and sometimes things just go that way. Hats off to Khimki, they really deserved to win it.”
Ukrainian Serhiy Lishchuk added 16 also in defeat.
After a close first quarter which Khimki edged 16-15, the gap widened as the second quarter progressed. A lay-up from Planinic gave Khimki a 26-19 lead as Valencia began the second sluggish. Lishchuk worked hard on both ends to help his side back into it but Planinic had other ideas, he had 15 points at the half as his side led 37-30 heading to the locker rooms.
Valencia seemed reinvigorated for the third as they pushed the tempo a little. Fouls shots from Caner-Medley, who began to show some aggression narrowed the lead to 41-37 and a basket inside from Lishchuk narrowed the gap more as the Khimki fans started to show some nerves.
The fourth quarter though belonged to the hosts though, as Valencia’s team-play and discipline went out the window.
“I think we had our opportunity until the last minutes. And the moment when we lost our opportunity is when it was 66-66 and we missed a three-pointer and our opponent scored. After that moment, we didn’t have much more options,” Valencia coach Velimir Perasovic said.