Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz is no stranger to the Euroleague Final Four, but the games in Berlin will end its eight-year hiatus from European basketball's signature event. This club boasts a rich history and twice – in 2001 and 2005 – was one win away from lifting the Euroleague title. Nevertheless, the past few seasons became about overcoming barriers and achieving success with pride and character, the exact same way that Laboral Kutxa plowed its way to the bright stage at Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Laboral has showed its character all season long. The team not only won on the road against traditional powerhouses like FC Barcelona Lassa, Real Madrid and Panathinaikos Athens. Laboral also became the first team to go 4-0 in overtime games in a season, led the Euroleague in rebounding, and played stingy defense that allowed the second-lowest true shooting percentage in the competition.
On the strength of two crucial overtime wins at home and the dominant play of big man Ioannis Bourousis, Laboral raced through the regular season. Improved defense and a five-game winning streak put Laboral in the driver's seat in the Top 16. The team went on to capture home-court advantage for the playoffs for the first time in five years. Despite having lost starters Toko Shengelia and Fabien Causeur to injuries, head coach Velimir Perasovic's charges hit 13 triples and routed Panathinaikos Athens 84-68 in Game 1 of the players. And after losing another starter Adam Hanga, late in the series opener, Laboral didn't miss a beat. The top scorer in the playoffs, Darius Adams, netted 24 points in Game 2 and Bourousis collected 14 points plus 9 rebounds as the team pulled out an 82-78 overtime win. Adams was at his best again in Game 3 in Athens, where he put up another 24 points, while backcourt mate Mike James added 20 and the depleted Laboral squad escaped from the Greek capital with a 74-83 victory to sweep the series.
Owner of the third-longest Final Four streak ever, between 2005 and 2008, Laboral makes its long-awaited comeback in Berlin. And with its well-known pride and character, Laboral now aims to bring the Euroleague trophy home for the first time.