Battle of the Decades: Stojan Vrankovic vs. Walter Tavares

19/Jan/23 11:45 January 18, 2023

John Rammas

19/Jan/23 11:45

The “Battle of the Decades” is back at Eurohoops and it’s on a gigantic scale between the legendary Stojko Vrankovic and his shot-blocking heir Walter Tavares.

By John Rammas/

One competition, two players, two meters and almost twenty centimeters each, two different decades, many common characteristics.

Stojan Vrankovic instilled fear and terror in the paint during his years on the court and Walter Tavares has been something of a “cheat code” over the last six EuroLeague seasons. Eurohoops pits them against each other in a very special “Battle of the Decades”.

Center | 2.18 meters | January 22, 1964 | Croatia

His teammate slips and falls to the floor, the ball is lost and ends up in the hands of the opponent, ready to score and be crowned EuroLeague champion. Time is running out. Suddenly, the figure of a player gallops onto the floor, jumping over fallen bodies with ease, despite his size. One last jump, one last block. That’s it. Panathinaikos Athens became the European champion for the first time in history. And Stojan Vrankovic will forever be the man of the moment, the one who will be remembered first of all from that 1996 Final Four in Paris in which the Greens edged Barcelona 67-66. That historic play was both majestic and controversial since the ball hit the backboard before his game-winning block.

Panathinaikos was the fourth team in his career and the one with which Vrankovic achieved the most.

With the last team in his career, PAF Bologna at that time, Vrankovic played in the maiden season of the modern Euroleague (2000-01). He may not have been as fast anymore, but even at age 37 remained a point of reference near the rim.

Vrankovic wore the “Basket City” jersey for 10 games of the regular season and playoffs until they lost in the semifinals against archrival Kinder (3-0). In the second game of the playoff series against Cibona Zagreb, he set a record that he still holds to this day with 10 blocks! In fact, in that specific game, a 74-75 victory in Zagreb on February 8, 2001, Vrankovic was just a single point away from the triple-double since he also tallied 9 points and 15 rebounds!

In addition to the end of PAF Bologna’s run in the Euroleague, the elimination in the best-of-five series was also the end of Vrankovic’s short career in the modern Euroleague. He finished with averages of 6.2 points (63.9% 2FG), 6.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 1.9 steals, 2.6 blocks and 2.2 turnovers in 21:43 minutes per game.