EuroCup: Home court does not decide the ‘civil wars’

2024-04-11T12:24:05+00:00 2024-04-11T12:24:05+00:00.

Aris Barkas

11/Apr/24 12:24

This is the third time that a BKT EuroCup Finals has been a one-country affair, and in the past, the home-court advantage was pretty much irrelevant

By Aris Barkas/

Paris Basketball and Mincidelice JL Bourg en Bresse are making history for French basketball. For the first time, two French teams are facing each other in a European final. And when two opponents from the same country are facing off, you can expect the unexpected.

That’s the story so far in the EuroCup Finals.

In the past, there were two occasions in which teams from the same country played each other in the final and things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Ricky, Rudy, and Marc Gasol

The first was historic by any measure. In 2008, Joventut Badalona took the 79-54 win against Akasvayu Girona.

If this doesn’t ring a bell, then the players’ names on the court need no special introduction. Rudy Fernandez was the MVP under Joventut head coach Aito Garcia Reneses.

His running mate in the backcourt was Ricky Rubio — in the heyday of the Ricky and Rudy show. Pau Ribas, Demond Mallet, Lubos Bartin, Jan Jagla, Henk Norel, and Jerome Moiso were other key parts of that roster.

Girona had on their roster a former EuroLeague champion with Panathinaikos in Darryl Middleton and a youngster named Marc Gasol.

The game remains one of the most iconic finals of the competition, then still named the ULEB Cup, even if it was an all-Spanish affair.

The competition format at the time was single-elimination Final Eight and the games were held in Turin, Italy.

However, the total record of Joventut was the competition’s best throughout the season (16-1), and even on neutral ground, they had the advantage.

A modern EuroCup rivalry

The second time that the finals ended up being a “civil war” was also two Spanish teams, in 2017, when Valencia and Unicaja Malaga squared off.

When everything was said and done, Unicaja won the trophy in its first appearance in the competition after 15 years in the EuroLeague.

In theory, though, Valencia, which holds the record with four EuroCup trophies, was the favorite due to having home-court advantage in that season’s best-of-three final series.

The two teams were in the same Top 16 group, where Valencia had a perfect 6-0 record and Unicaja went 3-3.

They met again in the finals, with Valencia getting a 68-62 win at home in Game 1. Bojan Dubljevic had 14 points and 8 rebounds to lead the way for the winning side.

In Game 2, Unicaja got a 79-71 home win with Jamar Smith scoring 20 points.

Everyone was betting Valencia would win Game 3 at home, but Unicaja prevailed (63-58) after a dogfight. Alberto Diaz emerged as the MVP of the Finals after scoring 12 points, and Unicaja managed to complete a comeback after trailing by 13 in the last period thanks to an 18-0 run.

That’s why, despite having a 1-0 lead, Paris can’t let its guard down and should finish off Bourg on the road, if given the chance.