By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
During the next four days (from 18th to 21th of February) the basketball planet of Spain will revolve around one and only one event: The Copa Del Rey. Eight teams from Liga Endesa, competing in knockout games for the grand prize: The “King’s Cup”.
With so many historic teams participating, great players leaving their sweat on court, experienced coaches clashing in battleS of tactics and an enviable organizing and coordination supporting the whole tournament, “Copa Del Rey” rightfully receives an attention that expands on a global scale. It is overflowing with quality in every possible aspect of it and encompasses all that we love about basketball.
So here is a small appetizer for this grand basketball feast, with 10, plus one, things you need to know about the tournament.
Coronation in…. “A Coruna”!
Real Madrid is the team with the most Copa Del Rey titles in history, having won the “King’s Cup” 25 times after participating in a total number of 46 finals. The Madridistas first lifted the trophy in 1946 and the longer period they have spent without winning the title, is 8 years (from 1994 to 2012).
This is only the second time, after 1983 that Obradoiro, the tournament’s hosting team, participates in the Copa Del Rey. The competition was totally different back then, since the format that we know today was introduced in 1987.
What have the other participants done in their previous ventures for the Spanish Cup?
- Barcelona has won the trophy more times than any other team post, 1977, when the title was changed to “Copa Del Rey”. The Catalans have celebrated the title sixteen times.
- This will be only the fourth tournament in which Fuenlabrada will have a chance to claim the title.
- Gran Canaria has participated in the Copa Del Rey thirteen times, managing to make it to the semifinal in 2013.
- While Bilbao played in the semifinals in the 2007-2008 season, it never managed to advance past the first round in any other of the the four times that the Basques participated in the tournament.
- As a six times cup holder Baskonia is no certainly no stranger to titles, and enters the competition in a quite ambitious manner.
- This will be the Copa Del Rey number 24 for Valencia, who was the winner in 1998.
The city of Corruna in Northern Spain (right above Portugal) will host the tournament for the third time, after it was renamed in “Copa Del Rey” and for the fourth time in the overall history of the Spanish Cup. Now, if you believe in tradition, you should now that this favors Real Madrid, which have won the trophy each and every time the tournament was held in this city.
“Coliseum da Coruna”. This is the name of the arena in which all the games will take place. While it was built in 1991 it has a certain modern feel to it and is considered to be one of the best venues for multi-purposes (concerts, exhibitions, sports) in Spain. Able to welcome more than 10 thousand spectactators, it has hosted all kind of different events in the past. Pretty, don’t you think?
Mark Davis, was the first player who won the MVP award. In 1990, the American shooting guard, and ex NBA-er, led Zaragoza to victory in the Final against Badalona, with a majestic performance of 44 points (10/17 2point shots, 6/9 3s) and 5 rebounds. The best scoring output ever in the competition, and more than half of 76 that his team scored in total, versus their opponents’ 69. Talk about what being dominant meant back in the day, right?
Rudy Fernandez is the youngest player who has ever won MVP honors in the Copa Del Rey. In the tournament of 1994, the international Spaniard was fantastic for Joventut Badalona at only 18 years of age. Although team lost in the final against Baskonia, but Rudy was chosen as the best player in the tournament after averaging 15 pts, 6 rebounds and 3 assists . As for the youngest baller who was MVP while his team also won the trophy, this is no other than Pau Gasol who led Barcelona to the title in 2001 with his 18 points and 7 rebounds per game.
Being 39 years old didn’t stop Joan Creus for leading Manresa to the first, and only so far, Cup title in the club’s history in 1996. “Chichi” was not simply his team’s top scorer, with 25 points, in the Final against Barcelona, which Manresa won 94 – 92. He also scored the buzzer beating 3 that gave his team the title. It goes without saying that the current GM of the Barcelona, is the oldest player to win the MVP award in the Copa Del Rey
Records, records, records
Which has been the most lucrative offensive game in Copa Del Rey? No other than the 1979 Final between Barcelona and Tempus Madrid that ended 130-113. Also, many remember the huge semifinal battle of 1985 between Joventut Badalona and Barcelona that ended 120 – 115. Jordi Villacampa, an iconic player for Badalona, had 31 points, while the legendary Juan San Epifanio was Barca’s first scorer with 36.
No less than three overtimes where needed to find out the winning team in the 1997 quarterfinal between archrivals Barcelona and Real Madrid. In the end, the Catalans prevailed 115-110 behind 30 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists by Sasa Djordjevic. Joe Arlauckas has a bombastic performance for Real with 37 points and 5 rebounds, but it was not enough.
Last… but not least. Juan Carlos Navarro needs only 44 points in order to become the top scorer in the history of the competition. Entering the tournament with 448 points in his pockets, he aims to surpass the mighty “Epi” (454) and Jordi Villacampa (491). Challenging but not impossible, especially for “La Bomba”.