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2012-13 Eurocup Coach of the Year: Fotis Katsikaris, Uxue Bilbao Basket
Apr 09, 2013
Euroleague Basketball is proud to announce that Fotis Katsikaris of Uxue Bilbao Basket, who leads his team into this season's title game later in the week, has been chosen as the 2012-13 Eurocup Coach of the Year. In his fourth season on Bilbao's bench, Katsikaris has marched the team its first-ever Eurocup Final, with the chance to lift its first trophy and return to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. The final will be played against Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar of Russia at the RTL Spiroudome in Charleroi, Belgium on Saturday. Bilbao registered the Eurocup's best overall record this season, 13-3, and also managed to overcome a tough predicament to advance in the competition. Bilbao was one of the three teams to finish the regular season undefeated at 6-0. Despite a 0-2 start in the Last 16, the team managed to win its four remaining games - including back-to-back triumphs against fellow-semifinalist Valencia Basket - to win Group H with a 4-2 record. Bilbao cemented its status as solid Eurocup contender by downing ratiopharm Ulm in the quarterfinals before sweeping its semifinals series against BC Budivelnik Kiev. By relying on a variety of players in different situations, Katsikaris made Bilbao one of the top-rated defensive teams in the competition (73.4 ppg. allowed) as well as the best scoring squad in the quarterfinals (182 points) and semifinals (168).
The Eurocup Coach of the Year is part of an expanded awards structure meant to enhance the recognition of the finest Eurocup players and coaches for their efforts throughout the season. Bojan Dubljevic of Valencia Basket was already named the Eurocup Rising Star Trophy winner. Euroleague Basketball and its in-house experts will also select the All-Eurocup first and second teams and the Eurocup MVP. The Eurocup Final MVP award will go the best player at that event as voted by accredited journalists in attendance during the title game. Katsikaris becomes the fifth winner of the annual Coach of the Year award, which was introduced in the 2008-09 season. The previous winners were Oktay Mahmuti of Benetton Basket in 2009, Ilias Zouros of Panellinios in 2010, Aleksandar Petrovic of Cedevita Zagreb in 2011 and Jure Zdovc of Spartak St. Petersburg last season.
Coach Katsikaris and Bilbao had to come up big month after month, starting with their rally from 15 points behind to force overtime and beat KK Buducnost Voli Podgorica 85-78 in regular season opener. Bilbao would stay perfect through six games in a tough group featuring Buducnost, Belgacom Spirou Basket and Lukoil Academic Sofia. Bilbao went beyond the 80-point mark in all games but one. At the start of the Last 16, however, back-to-back losses against CEZ Basketball Nymburk and VEF Riga left Bilbao near sudden elimination. Katsikaris regrouped his team with back-to-back victories over dangerous Valencia, including a 60-61 road win on a late three-pointer by Kostas Vasileiadis, the turning point in Bilbao's season. Bilbao went on to beat Nymburk 69-83 in the Czech Republic and topped VEF 76-65 at home to win its Last 16 group. Despite a four-point loss in Game 1 of the quarterfinals against ratiopharm Ulm, Bilbao responded with a no-doubt-about-it 101-78 home win in Game 2 to reach the semifinals as Nikos Zisis scored 23 points. Once in the semifinals, Bilbao defeated Budivelnik 79-89 in Game 1 and sealed its ticket to the final with a 75-53 success in Game 2. Four Bilbao scorers had 14 points or more in Game 1 and five hit double digits in Game 2, showing how deep and resourceful Katsikaris's team became during the season.
A former player who was at one time the youngest pro ever in the Greek League, Katsikaris joined AEK's coaching staff in 1998, learning on the job from legends such as Dusan Ivkovic and Dragan Sakota. In his time as assistant coach, Katsikaris helped AEK win the Greek League, two Greek Cups and a Saporta Cup title from 1999 to 2003. He was promoted to head coach in 2003-04 and the following season, Katsikaris took AEK to the Euroleague Top 16, falling one win away from reaching the Final Four. He briefly coached Dynamo St. Petersburg before joining Valencia Basket and reaching the Eurocup Finals in 2007-08. Katsikaris went on to coach Aris before joining Bilbao midway through the 2009-10 season. Every season has been more successful than the previous one since Katsikaris joined Bilbao - the club reached the Spanish League finals in 2010-11 and the Euroleague Playoffs in 2011-12. This season, Katsikaris was also named the new head coach of Russia's national team. Now 45 years old, Katsikaris sits one victory away from his and Bilbao's first international trophy, which would also qualify the team for the 2013-14 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season!
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