Virtus BolognaFiere survived against a determined Cholet Basket on Sunday in Italy to win this season's EuroChallenge.
Matteo Boniciolli's team, riding the hot hand of 21-point Keith Langford, edged the French outfit 77-75 in the Final.
Virtus, who finished third at the 2007 EuroCup in Girona and lost a couple of Coppa Italias in recent times - including this year at the FuturShow Station to Montepaschi Siena - finally captured another title in front of their adoring and passionate supporters.
|Keith Langford was named the EuroChallenge Final Four MVP.|
"This is our first time. It's a great thing and we're all happy.
"I'm happy for our teammates, our fans and especially for our president Claudio Sabatini who has spent a lot on this team and believes in this team."
Cholet, behind the spirited play of Nando De Colo, Claude Marquis and Randal Falker, were excellent for most of the game but appeared to be fading in the fourth quarter.
They trailed 74-61 with 6:08 remaining after a three-ball from Earl Boykins.
But the French team launched a furious fight-back with the electric De Colo leading the way.
They closed the game on a 14-3 run.
After Langford made just one of two free throws with 24 seconds left, Cholet brought the ball up the floor and had an opportunity to tie or even win with a three-pointer.
Virtus tightened up the defense and Cholet didn't aggressively look to score until 10 seconds remained.
De Colo caught the ball behind the arc, dribbled to his left and put up a shot but missed and the ball went out of bounds.
"It was on me to take the shot," De Colo said. "I thought maybe there might have been a foul but that's how it goes."
Virtus inbounded the ball and Earl Boykins heaved it down the floor as time expired.
De Colo, who has had to wear a facemask after having his nose broken in the EuroChallenge Quarter-Final series win over BC Kyiv, walked off the court as the game's leading scorer with 24 points.
Texas native Langford, the leading scorer for Virtus in their EuroChallenge games, was voted MVP of the Final Four.
"I'm at a great club and I hope I'm here again next year," Langford said.
Marquis and Falker, Cholet's two giants, had outstanding games for Erman Kunter's team.
Marquis finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Falker had 11 boards to go with his 10 points.
Sharrod Ford poured in 12 points and had 12 rebounds for Virtus, the side that won the 1998 FIBA EuroLeague title over AEK Athens in Barcelona with France great Antoine Rigaudeau as their point guard.
Rigaudeau also played at Cholet and he sat courtside at Sunday's EuroChallenge.
Sabatini walked around after the win thanking fans and friends.
"This is for the city and the great basketball community of Bologna and for Italy," Sabatini said.