Tornike Shengelia’s EuroCup journey coming full circle

By Antigoni Zachari / [email protected]

History repeats itself, though sometimes it happens to be just the opposite, especially when it comes to sports. Such is the case for Virtus Segafredo Bologna’s Tornike Shengelia, who is headed to the 7DAYS EuroCup Semifinals to face his former team, Valencia Basket, for a chance to reach the final and chase his second EuroCup title.

Two years after making his professional debut with Valencia in 2008, Shengelia was part of the squad that lifted the 2010 EuroCup. The Georgian forward only took part in three EuroCup contests in the 2009-10 campaign, scoring 3 points per game. His role wasn’t major by any means, yet this two-year stint was the perfect starting point to become one of the most dominant players in Europe.

The situation has changed drastically since his Valencia days. More than a decade later, he is back in the EuroCup and this time he enjoys a major role on Sergio Scariolo’s Virtus as a bold mid-season addition.

In the course of four regular-season games and two tough playoff contests, Shengelia has been productive on both ends of the court. In addition to the top-level experience he brings to an already loaded team, Shengelia also creates for his teammates. He recently tallied a career-high (in all EuroLeague Basketball competitions) 8 assists in the eighthfinals against Lietkabelis Panevezys. There’s no doubt that his repertoire is full and he is set to face his former team as a superstar.

Though he might have not yet faced Valencia after his EuroCup return in March (both Virtus and Valencia were Group B contenders), he did so several times during his six-year stint in Baskonia. The most bright example of this faceoff was during the 2020 Liga Endesa playoffs in the La Fonteta bubble, home to Valencia. Shengelia scored 17 points as Baskonia defeated the tournament hosts to advance to the final, where it would later beat Barcelona to win its fourth domestic title.

The Shengelia-Valencia story sure runs deep. This time around though, the challenge is even greater for “Toko”. Valencia’s size is a class of its own. Experienced bigs Bojan Dubljevic, Mike Tobey, Jasiel Rivero and rising star Jaime Pradilla will be prepared to raise hell against Shengelia and the rest of the Virtus frontcourt. It sure won’t be an easy feat for either team, though for the Georgian star it certainly marks a chance for his journey to come full circle.

V for Virtus or V for Valencia? By Wednesday night we will know the second finalist in this season’s EuroCup (Valencia hosts Virtus Wednesday, May 4, 20:30 CET).

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