Back to back champions of the Euroleague in the modern era

In today’s article, I want to point out the importance of keeping the core of the team for many seasons and build chemistry through the roster, in order to compete at highest level and win trophies. There are several occasions when some teams are able to sign two or three outstanding players and the win-now momentum is built-up, but the key to success is to continue to develop your team around an important core of players. My focus will be on Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olympiacos as they are, as for now, the only teams that won Euroleague in two consecutive years. Was the chemistry important for them?

In 2003-2004 season, under the guidance of Coach Pini Gershon, Maccabi Tel-Aviv managed to win the Euroleague, the Israeli League and the Israeli State Cup. The roster contains Anthony Parker, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Maceo Baston, Derrick Sharp, Nikola Vujcic, Gur Shelef, Yotam Halperin, Tal Burstein, David Bluthenthal or Deon Thomas. In the Euroleague Final against Skipper Bologna, Maccabi won by 44 points, 118-74, the biggest margin ever registered in a Final game. In the next year, from those players, only David Blu left the team, while the others remained in order the get another Euroleague title, after a 90-78 win in the Final against Tau Ceramica. But, after this second win, the roster was changed a lot for the next season, with only Baston, Vujcic, Parker, Sharp and Burstein remained in the team. However they still managed to get in the third Euroleague Final in a row, lost to CSKA Moscow, 73-69.

Prior to 2011-2012 season, Olympiacos suffered a lot of changes after a reduction of team salary and with Dusan Ivkovic as a coach and a youthful team, led by Vassilis Spanoulis, they managed to have the most impressive season since 1996-1997 season, winning both Euroleague and Greek Championship. All the players improved a lot during the season and in the Euroleague Final, they get the win over CSKA Moscow 62-61, after a 19 points comeback. That final was considered as one of the most dramatic final ever. The roster includes: Spanoulis, Georgios Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou, Kyle Hines, Joey Dorsey, Pero Antic, Acie Law, Kostas Sloukas and Vangelis Mantzaris. In the next year, only Dorsey left the team from that list and were added Stratos Perperoglou, Giorgi Shermandini and Josh Powell. They won another Euroleague title after win over Real Madrid 100-88 in O2 Arena in London. In the next year, they were able to maintain some of those players, but were eliminated in the first round by Real Madrid.

As we see from these two examples, keeping an important core of players for many seasons, will get you some silverware in the end. In the next season of Euroleague there are many important teams that kept their players and added only 1 or 2 new players and for that there are several big favourites to win it like Anadolu Efes, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid or CSKA Moscow. To change roster almost every year is not a very good idea, maybe only if you add several NBA stars to your team. If not, the chemistry is the most powerful weapon in the Euroleague.

Image: Euroleague

Bogdan Vasile Tirc