Valencia Basket was just outside the playoff zone when the previous season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. That year of experience has the 2019 EuroCup champion eager to achieve even more in 2020-21. Here's a look at five key games for Valencia in 2020-21.
Round 4: A budding rivalry with Zenit
Zenit’s debut season in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in 2019-20 delivered the first installment at the highest level of a matchup that had only previously taken place in the EuroCup. Valencia enjoyed those tussles with the Russian team, winning home and away in a pair of exciting and high-scoring games: 94-90 in Valencia and 81-86 on the road. Maintaining its 100% record over Zenit – coached by a familiar foe in the form of ex-Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual – in this new rivalry could prove significant in the end-of-season standings.
Round 11: Happy memories in Istanbul
Last season’s trip to face Fenerbahce was one of the most memorable encounters in Valencia’s history. The Round 16 meeting resulted in a 98-100 overtime victory for Valencia after Jordan Loyd scored the winning points with a basket-and-one with 7 seconds remaining in the extra period. The real hero, though, was Bojan Dubljevic, who recorded a PIR of 42 – the fifth-best of any player all season – as he combined 30 points with 12 rebounds. Those are happy memories to reflect on ahead of the club's next trip to the Asian side of Istanbul.
Round 12: A EuroCup Finals rematch
There is no opponent with more positive recent connotations for Valencia than ALBA Berlin. The 2019 EuroCup Finals between the teams saw Valencia clinch the best-of-three series with a thumping 89-63 victory in the decider at La Fonteta. That was Valencia’s second EuroCup Finals victory over ALBA in the space of a decade, having also overcome the German team in 2010. Back then the title was decided in a Final Four format and Valencia used stellar defense to win the championship game 67-44.
Round 16: Old foes meet in the EuroLeague again
Over the summer, www.eurocupbasketball.com has been profiling star players who kick-started their careers in the EuroCup and on a club level the same applies to these two teams. Valencia was crowned EuroCup champion on four occasions this century (2003, 2010, 2014 and 2019), while Khimki similarly grew as a club and proved its credentials by taking the title twice (2012 and 2015), including a title game victory over Valencia. These two well-managed clubs are a great example of what can be achieved by long-term planning and now they will once again be meeting at the continent’s highest level.
Round 17: San Emeterio leads the way back to Vitoria
Valencia's veteran forward Fernando San Emeterio will always receive a special welcome when he travels to Fernando Buesa Arena, having enjoyed a highly successful seven-year spell as a Baskonia player between 2008 and 2015. In addition to playing 143 EuroLeague games for the club, San Emeterio also delivered one of the most memorable plays in Baskonia history as he scored the game-winning basket-and-one to secure the 2010 Spanish League title over FC Barcelona. For that moment alone, he will always be idolized in Vitoria-Gasteiz.