Unicaja Malaga is the 2016-17 7DAYS EuroCup champion! Unicaja won its first trophy of any kind in 11 years with a stunning come-from-behind victory over Valencia Basket 58-63 in front of a sellout crowd at Fuente de San Luis.
The visitors used a 0-18 fourth-quarter charge to come back from a 13-point deficit. Unicaja’s defense held Valencia to just 4 fourth-quarter points. Homegrown guard Alberto Diaz paced Unicaja with 12 points and Jamar Smith added 10. Bojan Dubljevic paced Valencia with 16 points. Valencia outrebounded Unicaja 36-26, including 15 offensive boards, but suffered a poor shooting night, making just 12 of 33 two-point shots (36.4%) and 9 of 36 threes (25%). By winning, Unicaja became the first EuroCup newcomer to win the competition since Hapoel Jerusalem did so in 2004. The club claimed its first continental title in almost 16 year – since winning the Korac Cup title in 2001 – and became the fourth Spanish team to lift the trophy, following Valencia, Real Madrid and Joventut Badalona. Joan Plaza became the third coach to win multiple EuroCup titles; he previously won the competition with Real Madrid in 2007. And Oliver Lafayette added a second EuroCup title to his roll of honors after winning it with Valencia in 2014.
Diaz got Unicaja going with a three-pointer and soon added a jumper for a 2-5 lead. Adam Waczynski struck from downtown and a floater by Jeff Brooks boosted the guests' lead to 2-10. Will Thomas stepped up with a triple and a free throw, but another jumper by Diaz and a driving layup by Nemanja Nedovic caused Valencia stop the game at 6-14. Dubljevic scored down low and Joan Sastre struck twice from downtown to bring the hosts within 14-16. Dubljevic kept pacing Valencia with back-to-back three-pointers and added a jump hook for a 22-18 lead after 10 minutes. Dubljevic scored again early in the second quarter and a layup by Rafa Martinez made it an 8-point game after a 20-4 run. Alen Omic dunked and split free throws, but a triple by Luke Sikma and a layup by Romain Sato made it a double-digit game, 31-21. Omic and Brooks rescued Unicaja and a driving layup by Nedovic brought Unicaja within 33-30 at the break.
Fernando San Emeterio hit one from beyond the arc right after the break and got help from Sastre and an unstoppable Dubljevic to establish a 40-32 Valencia lead. Diaz struck from downtown, but San Emeterio hit free throws and Sam Van Rossom added a triple, after which Unicaja called timeout at 45-35. Omic scored down low and Dani Diez added a triple, but Van Rossom kept Valencia in charge, 50-41. After Nedovic fouled Rafa Martinez, Omic leapt off the bench to prevent a physical altercation, but was disqualified for entering the court. A big three-point play by Sato helped Valencia take a 54-43 margin after 30 minutes. Thomas hit a jumper for a 13-point advantage, but Diez answered with a three-pointer. Smith made free throws and followed Diez's triple with a bomb from downtown to bring Unicaja back to life at 56-54 with four minutes left. Brooks scored around the basket and a three-pointer by Smith completed the guests' comeback. Valencia kept missing shots and free throws by Diaz capped a 0-18 run for a 56-61 advantage in the next-to-last minute. Dubljevic hit free throws to make it a 3-point game, but missed its next 3 attempts from downtown, including Brooks soaring to block a Martinez shot with 17 seconds remaining. Nedovic split free throws to make it a two-possession game and Unicaja held on for the title.