By John Rammas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Every EuroLeague season gets underway with only one goal in everyone’s mind: winning the trophy. Some make it, some don’t. This season is no different: on May 20 in Belgrade, only a select few will get to hold the trophy in their hands. The moment will be special, but for some perhaps not unprecedented, since this season the EuroLeague features 42 current or former champions on the rosters of the 16 competing teams. Some players have even won it three times!
Three of a kind
Vassilis Spanoulis stands out in this short list, having combined the collective distinction of winning the title and being named MVP of three Final Fours. The fact that he did this with two different teams – and, in fact, the two eternal rivals of Greek basketball – makes his accomplishment even more special. His first came in 2009 in Berlin with Panathinaikos (15.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1 assist). Then in 2012 in Istanbul (18 points, 1.5 rebounds, 4 assists) and 2013 in London (15 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4 assists), where aside from impressive stats, he also scored almost all of Olympiacos Piraeus’s big baskets. They don’t call him “Kill Bill” for nothing.
Alongside Spanoulis for those historic back-to-back wins was Kyle Hines, who followed his own path to Moscow immediately and in 2016 in Berlin (15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in the final against Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul) won his third ring. In fact, that season with CSKA Moscow may have been his best in many aspects; Hines was named 2015-16 EuroLeague Best Defender.
A year later was the turn of their former teammates, Kostas Sloukas and Pero Antic, to collect their third crowns. As luck would have it, the duo celebrated their third and Fenerbahce Istanbul’s first-ever EuroLeague title against the team with which they had captured the first two. Sloukas contributed 6 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists on average in the Final Four, while Antic lent a hand only in the final (4 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist) again Olympiacos.