By Antigoni Zachari / email@example.com
EuroBasket is only a couple days away! While we’re getting ready to experience great battles between the best teams of the Old Continent, let’s reminiscent the men who lead their nations in terms of caps in international competitions.
As we unfold the history of all 24 nations participating in this year’s EuroBasket, we will focus on each leading figure’s contribution and achievements.
For this list, we consulted FIBA Archives, as well as each Federation’s archives and statistics of official games. Our calculations include participations not only in Senior teams, but also in Youth ones.
Additionally, the list includes players of former countries (e.g. Yugoslavia) and each one is listed based on his stated nationality.
France – Hervé Dubuisson – 254 participations
Born in 1957, Dubuisson’s name has been carved on stone for French basketball. Not only is he the player with the most cups, but he is also the first scorer ever for his nation, with 3,821 points.
A soldier of ‘Les Bleus’ for 15 years (1974-89), yet his trophy collection does not depict the impact he’s had on the sport, winning just a silver medal in 1975 at the Mediterranean games.
Germany – Patrick Femerling – 221 participations
Former captain of the German NT and a leader of the country’s success in the early 00s, Femerling remains an emblematic figure in the sport.
In 13 years of presence with the national team, he has won a silver medal at the 2005 EuroBasket and a bronze one at the 2002 World Cup.
Spain – Juan Carlos Navarro – 240 participations
The long-term captain of ‘Furias Rojas’ keeps breaking one record after the other! Recently, he surpassed Juan Antonio San Epifanio and took charge of the most caps record.
At 37, Navarro has won almost everything – 3 gold medals (2006 World Cup, 2009 & 2011 Eurobasket), 4 silver ones (2008 & 2012 Olympics), and 2 bronze ones (2001 EuroBasket, 2016 Olympics).
Italy – Pierluigi Marzorati – 278 participations
A member of FIBA Hall of Fame and one of the 50 best players of all time (as voted by FIBA again), Marzorati is still valued among the best European point guards ever. He was a member of the Azzuris for 15 years (1971-86) and has scored 2,209 points with the National Team.
64-year-old Marzorati has a gold (1983 EuroBasket), a silver (1980 Olympics) and 3 bronze medals (1971, 1975 & 1985 EuroBasket) in his collection.
Greece – Panagiotis Giannakis – 351 participations
For the Greek crowd, his name is a synonym of basketball; a legendary figure in the sport and one of the many that helped the country build a “basketball mentality”. Giannakis has an astonishing record of 351 caps, the most of any other player on the list.
A member of the Greek NT since his youth, he counted 21 years of constant presence. His trophy collection – as a player – includes 2 gold medals (1979 Mediterranean Games, 1987 Eurobasket) and 2 silver ones (1975 FIBA U16, 1989 EuroBasket).
Iceland – Guðmundur Bragason – 169 participations
16 years of presence in the Icelandic national team has helped Bragason earn the most caps honor in his nation’s history in the sport.
His son, Jon Axel, is continuing the now 50-year-old center’s legacy, playing college basketball at Davidson Wildcats.
Lithuania – Gintaras Einikis – 106 participations
One of the controversial figures of Lithuanian basketball and a member of the national team for 8 years (1992-00), Einikis holds the first place in most games played for the nation, during which he had scored a total of 1,024 points.
He has led the team to a silver medal (1995 Eurobasket) and 3 bronze ones (1992, 1996, 2000 Olympics).
Controversial to many, as a few years after his retirement from the NT, accusations of drug and alcohol intoxication came to light.
Belgium – Christophe Beghin – 137 participations
37-year-old Beghin was a member of the Belgian Lions for 10 years (2001-11) and has participated in 2 major competitions with the team (2002, 2010 World Cup, 2009 EuroBasket).
He retired at the end of the previous season, after spending the last part of his career in Spirou Charleroi and along the way he has won the “Belgian Player of the Year” title 3 times, coinciding with the years of participation in FIBA events.
Beghin was an avid Tomas Van den Spiegel fan, from whom he claimed to have learned a lot and was one of his influences.
Slovenia – Jaka Lakovic – 86 participations / Ivo Daneu (Ex-Yugoslavia, Slovenian nationality) 209 participations
A loyal member of the youth and senior teams in his long-term presence with the Slovenian NT (1994-2013), Lakovic has left his own mark to basketball.
While his medal collection features only one (silver at the 1998 U20 championship), he had never missed a FIBA event.
Going a bit back in time, Ivo Daneu played 209 games with Yugoslavia, which makes him the most capped player of the nation.
As a member of the former unbreakable team, he won 2 gold medals (1970 World Cup, 1959 Mediterranean Games), 6 silver (1963 & 1967 World Cup, 1968 Olympics, 1961, 1965 & 1969 EuroBasket) and a bronze one (1963 EuroBasket).
Israel – Yaniv Green – 189 participations
Green might have a double nationality (Israeli – Polish), yet it was with Israel that he made history. A member of the top-5 all times scorers of the nation (1,478 points) in 15 years of presence (2000-2015), he made history in his last EuroBasket participation when he surpassed Doron Jamchi in most games played.
He was a runner up with the U20 team in 2000.
Finland – Tuukka Kotti – 218 participations
Kotti was one of the key players of Finland’s modern-era basketball, helping the team leave an impression at the 2011 EuroBasket, after spending 13 years either without qualifying or in Division B of EuroBasket.
With his contribution, the nation made it to the 2013 EuroBasket as well, carving a new path ever since. While they haven’t reached a medal with Kotti playing, they re-appeared strong in the European basketball map.
Great Britain – Drew Sullivan – 100 participations
Sullivan had the honor to lead his NT at the 2012 Olympics, where as the host nation GB finished at the 9th place.
He played his last FIBA competition game in 2015 and concluded his captain career with 100 caps. Earlier this summer, he announced his retirement from basketball altogether.
Serbia – Drazen Dalipagic – 243 participations
Another great of the former Yugoslavia team, with 13 years of presence for his nation (1973-86). During these years, he managed to win 5 gold medals (1980 Olympics, 1978 World Cup, 1973, 1975 & 1977 EuroBasket, 1975 Mediterranean Games), 3 silver (1976 Olympics, 1974 World Cup, 1981 EuroBasket) and 4 bronze ones (1984 Olympics, 1982 & 1986 World Cup, 1979 EuroBasket).
Dalipagic also had to honor of being Yugoslavia’s flag bearer at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.