|Goran Ikonic, who mesmerised the audience in Ostend with his outlandish semi-final performance against the home team on Friday, was voted the Final Four MVP after KRKA's great triumph|
KRKA Novo Mesto launched a stirring comeback late in the fourth quarter and beat Lokomotiv Kuban to win the EuroChallenge in Ostend, Belgium, on Sunday.
Trailing by eight with 4:14 remaining, the Slovenian club reeled off 16 unanswered points and ended up winning 83-77.
Christopher Booker, who ignited the run with a three-ball, finished with a team-high 20 points while Goran Ikonic was named MVP of the EuroChallenge Final Four.
Ikonic had scored 24 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead KRKA to a come-from-behind triumph over hosts BC Telenet Oostende on Friday and he had 12 points, five assists and three rebounds against Lokomotiv.
KRKA led for much of the contest against Lokomotiv on Sunday but faced their biggest deficit after Alexey Surovtsev hit a shot from the arc to give the Russian side a 75-67 lead with 4:14 to play.
Booker, who had been his team's star performer in the game, went immediately to the other end and hit a three-ball.
After Jeremiah Massey took a quick attempt from behind the three-point line and missed, KRKA hit them with a counter-attack that saw a closely-guarded Ikonic pass up a three and instead drive in for a lay-up.
Even when KRKA missed shots, they fought like lions to get the ball back in the game-winning run.
After Smiljan Pavic was off target, Booker rebounded but misfired.
He followed up his own shot, however, and scored to reduce the arrears to 75-74 before Zoran Dragic's defensive pressure saw him overpower Alando Tucker and steal the ball before passing to Pavic for a go-ahead lay-up with 2:10 to play
KRKA kept the heat on and Lokomotiv, who had done so well to beat Spartak Saint-Petersburg on Friday and also stay within striking distance of KRKA 48 hours later, caved in.
Montenegro international Goran Jeretin, solid for most of the day off the bench, turned the ball over with a bad pass and Dragic stormed in for a lay-up.
Dusan Djordjevic then knocked down an open three-pointer for an 81-75 KRKA advantage.
Lokomotiv called timeout but that failed to stop the rot as both Jeretin and Massey missed shots.
Bojan Krivec then sank two free-throws with 28 seconds to go for KRKA to ice the victory.
KRKA, who are led by coach Aleksandar Dzikic, out-rebounded Lokomotiv Kuban 39-30 and also shot 59.1% (26 of 44) inside the arc.
They claimed the club's biggest and most important victory of the season, and one of the most famous triumphs in their country's basketball history.
Lokomotiv Kuban Head Coach Kestutis Kemzura
"It was a tough game, we were struggling at both ends and we allowed some holes in our defence for our opponents to score, in the second half we tried a zone defence and it worked for us, but in the fourth quarter we just couldn't score, we lost control of the game."
Lokomotiv Kuban player Mike Wilkinson
"It was a tough game and we knew it would be, both teams played tough defence and you had to work for every basket. Bball is a game of runs, and they had their run in the end and they beat us deservedly."
KRKA Head Coach Aleksandar Dzikic
"I'd be a liar if I said that I'm not satisfied with the team, after a victory over a great opponent. Today we played against some great individuals, as Mike said basketball is a game of runs and we didn't go down when they had their run, this team never panics, although myself I can be very emotional. The fact that Lokomotiv is such a good team only makes our victory more valuable."
"In our system, every player plays for the good of the team and as a team we try to hide individual weakness and bring out strengths. I don't care about the nationality of the players, I want players with ambition."
KRKA player Goran Ikonic
"I am not the MVP on my own; this MVP prize belongs to the whole team. I think the key was that we played great team defence against some great players, and in general we always played like a team."