On This Day, 2015: Khimki wins it again!

Apr 29, 2020 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
On This Day, 2015: Khimki wins it again!

Khimki Moscow Region entered the 2015 EuroCup Finals with great confidence. It had the homecourt advantage in the two-game, total-points series and had defeated three very good teams - Zenit St Petersburg, Valencia Basket and Banvit Bandirma - on its way to the finals. Tyrese Rice was chosen as the 2014-15 EuroCup MVP and proved it in the first leg of the title series against Herbalife Gran Canaria. Rice had 13 points and 5 assists to lead Khimki to a 66-91 win at Gran Canaria Arena. Khimki's supreme shooting percentage (72.2% 2FG, 47.8% 3FG, 85.7% FT) allowed the Russian powerhouse to take a 25-point lead in the series, which would finish at Basketball Center of Moscow Region on April 29, 2015.

Khimki keeps pushing

Game 2 of the Finals looked like a formality, but Gran Canaria arrived at the finals with an almost-perfect 21-1 record and was ready to fight. Khimki found the right rhythm on offense, however, as Rice and Paul Davis led the hosts to an early 13-6 lead. Former Gran Canaria center James Augustine came off the bench and had 6 points late in the first quarter for a 27-18 Khimki lead after 10 minutes. Augustine kept pacing Khimki and Rice struck from downtown to make it a 40-point series at halftime, 45-30. The second half was a basketball celebration for Khimki fans, as their team kept rolling until team captain Sergey Monia lifted the trophy together with his daughters minutes after the final buzzer.

A record-breaking performance

Khimki won the series 174-130, the largest winning margin by any team in competition history. The victory marked the record third EuroCup crown for head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis, who led Khimki to its first EuroCup title in 2012 and won it with Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in 2009. No other coach has won three EuroCup titles, but Rafa Martinez has as a player with Valencia Basket in 2010, 2014 and 2019. Khimki became the third team to win multiple EuroCup titles after Rytas and Valencia. Rice became the first player to win the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague (with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2014) and the EuroCup in consecutive seasons. Monya, Egor Vyaltsev, Marko Popovic and Maxim Sheleketo joined a select list of multiple EuroCup winners.

About the game

Khimki beat Gran Canaria 83-64 behind 18 points from Augustine, who had a perfect shooting night - 7-of-7 on two-pointers and 4-of-4 on free throws. Davis posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Rice also scored 16 points and Petteri Koponen had 13 for Khimki. Walter Tavares led Gran Canaria with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Brad Newley added 12 for the Spanish powerhouse. Two-point shots and assists made the difference in Game 2. Khimki had 23 assists and 13 turnovers. Gran Canaria had fewer assists (12) and more turnovers (15). Khimki made 26 of 42 two-point shots (61.9%) and limited Gran Canaria to 18-of-47 shooting inside the arc (38.3%).

What happened next

Khimki qualified for the 2015-16 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and has been in that competition most seasons since then. Khimki, however, returned to the EuroCup in the 2016-17 season and lost to Valencia in the quarterfinals. Gran Canaria has not been back to the EuroCup Finals, but was close the following season. In the two-game, total points semifinals against Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul, Gran Canaria lost by 14 in Istanbul and had two chances to win the series at home, but Albert Oliver missed a shot at the end of regulation and a driving layup late in overtime. His shot was blocked by Vladimir Micov, which allowed Galatasaray to win the series 169-170, advance to the final and eventually become the first Turkish team to lift the EuroCup trophy.