Valencia is undefeated at home this season and is on a 10-game winning streak. Rytas comes into this series in its best moment in the competition in years. Expect a hard-fought series between 7DAYS EuroCup classics.
In the EuroCup history books
Both teams have written EuroCup history with golden letters. Valencia won the competition three times and Rytas lifted the trophy twice. Other than these classic EuroCup sides, only one other team, Khimki Moscow Region, has been crowned EuroCup champion more than once. Valencia became the competition's original champion in 2003 after besting Krka Novo Mesto and won the EuroCup again in 2010 and 2014, defeating ALBA Berlin and UNICS Kazan, respectively. Rytas won its first EuroCup title in 2005 against Alfa Makedonikos and also lifted the trophy in 2009 when it topped Khimki. Valencia also reached finals in 2012 and 2017 and lost against Khimki and Unicaja Malaga, respectively. Rytas lost the EuroCup championship game to Real Madrid in 2007. The two teams have combined for 29,234 points, 360 games and just 115 losses. In other words, if you are looking for EuroCup tradition and pride, this is definitely your go-to playoffs series this season!
Always in the highest stages
Valencia and Rytas have only faced each other three times and they were all deep into the EuroCup season. They have never crossed paths in any group stage. Valencia and Rytas first faced each other in the two-game total-points semifinals in 2005. Valencia won the first leg 77-75 behind 32 points from an unstoppable Igor Rakocevic. Tyrone Nesby scored most of his 30 points in the second half to keep Rytas in the series. In the second leg in Vilnius, Rytas registered a 75-65 win to win the series, advance to the final and eventually claim its first continental title. Nesby and Roberts Stelmahers led Rytas with 16 points apiece. Valencia's 13 missed free throw attempts were critical down the stretch. They next met in the single-game semifinal in 2012. Valencia prevailed this time, downing Rytas 80-70 behind 12 points each from Nik Caner-Medley and former Rytas forward Brad Newley. Steponas Babrauskas led Rytas with a career-high 21 points.
Marquee matchup under the baskets
Two of the best big men in the competition are set to face each other. Bojan Dubljevic of Valencia and Art Parakhouski of Rytas are experienced, old-school big men with polished post skills - and both of them are in great shape right now. Dubljevic was chosen as the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 MVP. Throughout that phase, he scored 13.2 points on 46.7% three-point shooting, collected 7.3 rebounds and delivered 2.8 assists for an average performance index rating (PIR) of 19.5. Dubljevic boosted his numbers to 17 points on 70% three-point shooting, 9.3 rebounds and a PIR of 25.3 in games decided by 5 points or less - all of them on the road. Parakhouski led the Top 16 in PIR (21.2 per game) with 15.0 points on 74.5% two-point shooting and 8.7 rebounds. He hit the game-winning shot in a do-or-die showdown against Partizan NIS Belgrade in the Serbian capital and sealed Rytas's Top 16 ticket with a monster game in Round 6 (18 points, 11 rebounds, 26 PIR).
Different playing styles
Rytas is the best rebounding team in the competition with 36.8 boards per game; Valencia ranks 19th at 31.8 per night. Rytas did even better in the Top 16, leading the stage at 40.7 rebounds per game; Valencia was eighth (33.8 rpg.). Rytas has been especially solid at the defensive end (27.7 drpg. in the Top 16), which has allowed the Lithuanian powerhouse to play in transition and improve its offense (81.5 ppg. in the Top 16, 78.4 in the regular season). On the other hand, Valencia led the Top 16 in assists (22.0 apg.) and three-point shots made (11.3 per game) with solid percentages (39.3% 3FG). Valencia ranked second in two-point shooting percentage, too (58.8%) and last in turnovers at just 11.3 per night. In fact, Valencia is on track to have the best assist-to-turnover ratio in any EuroCup season (1.92). Rytas set the full season record with 1.74 in the 2013-14 season. To win, Rytas must lock its defensive board to run the floor and Valencia must take excellent care of the ball. Whoever keeps doing what they did well until now will have the most chances to advance.