The winningest team in the history of the 7DAYS EuroCup will take on an up-and-coming squad for a ticket to the semifinals when Valencia Basket hosts Boulogne Metropolitans 92 in the final quarterfinal game to tip off.
Breakdown: Valencia Basket vs. Boulogne Metropolitans 92
Let the big dogs eat
Both of these teams have relied on their star power and depth in the frontcourt this season and relied on that in the eighthfinals, too. Centers Bojan Dubljevic, Mike Tobey, Jasiel Rivero and Jaime Pradilla have been forces inside for Valencia all season long. Rivero was the star of the eighthfinals win over Hamburg Towers with 21 points on near-perfect shooting. Valencia outrebounded Hamburg 38-23, scored 26 second-chance points and made 71.4% of its two-pointers.
Metropolitans will turn to the quartet of Vince Hunter, Tomer Ginat, Miralem Halilovic and Bandja Sy I the paint. That foursome combined for 38 points, 28 rebounds and 3 blocks against Umana Reyer Venice in the eighthfinals. As a result, Metropolitans controlled the rebounding battle 41-29 and limited Reyer to 42.9% shooting on twos.
The importance of home-court advantage
Few teams in any sport can boast the type of record at home that Valencia has. Since the inception of the EuroCup, the club has gone 95-13 at home in the competition, which is an 88.0% winning percentage. It has had perfect seasons at home five times, including a 12-9 record in 2018-19 when it last lifted the EuroCup. It has another unbeaten season too; in the 2004-05 campaign, Valencia was 7-0-1 at home. It tied Joventut Badalona 85-85 in the second leg of their two-game total-points series after winning the first on the road. When the games get more meaningful, Valencia is even better with a 26-3-1 record in playoff or elimination round games. Its only losses came in the 2013 semifinals at the hands of Locomotive Kuban Krasnodar, in the 2015 quarterfinals against Khimki Moscow Region and in the decisive third game of the 217 finals against Unicaja Malaga.
Meanwhile, Metropolitans will be looking for its first-ever EuroCup victory on Spanish soil. To date, it was routed by Valencia, 98-52, in November 2013, when the club was known as Paris Levallois. Valencia forward Louis Labeyrie played for Paris in that game. In the 2014-15 season opener, CAI Zaragoza edged Paris 77-76. Last season, again in the season opener, Metropolitans lost 96-88 at Unicaja Malaga and was later eliminated with a 66-64 defeat at Gran Canaria in the quarterfinals. In Round 7 this season, Metropolitans fell to 0-5 in Spain with an 86-63 loss at Joventut Badalona. The club did achieve its first road win against a club from the Spanish League when it bested MoraBanc Andorra in Round 17.
A former champion will advance
There will assuredly be a former EuroCup winner in the semifinals. Valencia Basket, the winningest team in competition history, features four players from the squad that lifted the trophy in 2019:
Bojan Dubljevic, Louis Labeyrie, Mike Tobey and Sam Van Rossom. Moreover, Victor Claver helped Valencia win the EuroCup in 2010. Dubljevic, who won the EuroCup in 2014, too, is a two-time EuroCup Rising Star and a four-time All-EuroCup selection. Claver is also a former EuroCup Rising Star.
Will Cummings is the only former EuroCup champion on the Metropolitans roster. He conquered the competition in 2018 with Darussafaka Istanbul. Vince Hunter, who reached the EuroCup Semifinals last season with Virtus Segafredo Bologna, was named to last season’s All-EuroCup Second Team. So regardless of which team wins, the semifinals will feature at least one former champion and one previous All-EuroCup selection.
The players on these teams feature four of the top 40 scorers in EuroCup history. Bojan Dubljevic is the all-time leading scorer with 1,595 points and his title is not in any immediate jeopardy with the closest active player in the playoffs, A.J. Slaughter of Gran Canaria, checking in at seventh place with 1,189 points. Valencia point guard San Van Rossom is 29th with 925 points. He needs 24 more to catch Justin Cobbs of Buducnost VOLI Podgorica for 25th place. Valencia’s injured swingman Klemen Prepelic is tied for 31st with 913 points.
Will Cummings of Metropolitans entered 40th place in the eighthfinals and has 880 points to his credit. He needs 20 more to become the 37th player with 900 points in the EuroCup. Van Rossom is sixth all-time with 374 career assists. Albert Oliver is sixth with 393. Cummings is 50th on that list with 215. Van Rossom is tied with Marko Marinovic for ninth with 164 career triples and needs 3 more to catch Demond Mallet for eighth. Prepelic is 14th with 152 and Dubljevic 18th with 143.