Turkish Airlines Euroleague
December 10, 2013
Eurocup Top 10 – first look at stars
June 6, 2012
The Eurocup has long been a launching pad for the careers of to-be superstars. The esteemed list of players to have won the titles in both the Euroleague and Eurocup grows from season to season. Most often, the path takes young studs through the Eurocup and into the Euroleague. Below we highlight 10 players – multiple-time Euroleague winners, Final Four MVPs and recently-retired legends among them – who got their careers going via the Eurocup before progressing to become impact players in Europe’s premier competition…
10- Terence Morris
Now retired at age 33, Terence Morris debuted in European competition with Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem in the 2006-07 ULEB Cup. His numbers were not outstanding - 5.3 points and 4 rebounds in six games after joining the club midseason – but he helped Hapoel to reach the quarterfinals. Morris joined Maccabi Tel Aviv the following season, was named to the 2007-08 All-Euroleague First Team and chosen as the January 2007 MVP. He went on to play three consecutive Euroleague finals with different teams - Maccabi in 2008, CSKA Moscow in 2009 and Barcelona in 2010, when he at last lifted the trophy.
9- Romain Sato
Today he is one of the best small forwards in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, but Romain Sato first proved himself in the 2006-07 ULEB Cup with Montepaschi Siena. In just his third game in the competition, Sato had a career-defining performance - 30 points, 7 rebounds and a performance index rating of 41 – against mighty BC Khimki. Montepaschi did not go past the quarterfinals that season, but Sato’s impressive numbers (14.2 points, 6 rebounds and 17.6 performance index rating) proved that he was a player of the highest caliber. Sato went on to play three Final Fours over the next six Euroleague seasons and won the continental crown with Panathinaikos in 2011.
8- Rudy Fernandez
At age 17, Rudy Fernandez debuted in European competitions in the original ULEB Cup season back in 2002-03. He played sparingly in two games, but the next season developed into an impact player with 9.9 points and an 11.8 index rating for his team, DKV Joventut. Rudy went on to become the 2006-07 Euroleague Rising Star and returned to the Eurocup to win the competition in 2008, when he was also named Final Eight MVP despite battling a shoulder injury. Among the most exciting players to watch in the game, Fernandez played three ULEB Cup seasons before becoming a World and European champion with the Spanish national team.
7- Pete Mickeal
The 2004-05 ULEB Cup elimination rounds had its own superstar in Pete Mickeal, who earned MVP honors several times and almost singlehandedly led Makedonikos BC all the way to the final. In six elimination rounds games, Mickeal recorded an average performance index rating of 28.7. His best game came in Game 2 of the semifinals against Hemofarm, when Makedonikos rallied from a 21-point, first-leg deficit to reach the final behind 32 points from Mickeal. His team did not get the title, but with that season as his springboard, Mickeal went on to become a Euroleague superstar by reaching three Final Fours and winning the title with FC Barcelona.
6- Sofoklis Schortsanitis
As a 19-year-old prospect, Sofoklis Schortsanitis started to showcase his power with Aris Egnatia Bank in the 2004-05 ULEB Cup season. Schortsanitis showed hints of the player he would become in a game against Turk Telekom, in which he had 15 points and 9 rebounds in just 14 minutes. He ended up averaging 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in eight games. After that, he would become a Euroleague superstar with Olympiacos and Maccabi, leading each team to respective Euroleague finals in 2010 and 2011. He earned All-Euroleague first team honors in 2010-11 and his best years may be yet to come.
5- Terrell McIntyre
One of the best floor generals in European basketball over the past decade, Terrell McIntyre played two ULEB Cup seasons before reaching the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. McIntyre averaged 15.4 points, 4.2 assists and 2.4 steals in 10 games with Landi Renzo Reggio Emilia in the 2005-06 season, in which they reached the quarterfinals. He led Montepaschi Siena to the same results in 2006-07, when he averaged 11.2 points and 2.8 assists. McIntyre went on to take Montepaschi to the 2008 Final Four and earned All-Euroleague First Team honors in 2007-08 and 2008-09 before joining Unicaja.
4- Maceo Baston
Athletic and lengthy big man Maceo Baston shined brightly in the inaugural ULEB Cup season. Baston took DKV Joventut to the semifinals with 16.1 points and 6.7 points per game. He ranked third in performance index rating average (23.3), second in blocks (2.11 bpg.) and fourth in two-point shooting percentage (67.1%). Baston soon after joined Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he helped the team win back-to-back Euroleague titles in 2004 and 2005 and made it to the title game once again in 2006. His high-flying dunks and blocks regularly brought Maccabi fans to their feet, but they were seen in the Eurocup first.
3- Milos Teodosic
FMP has introduced many great talents to European basketball, but perhaps none as brilliant as Milos Teodosic, the current starting point guard with Turkish Airlines Euroleague runner-up CSKA Moscow. Back at Zeleznik, Teodosic made his ULEB Cup debut in 2004-05 and played a full season in 2006-07, when he averaged 7.8 points and 2.9 assists in 16 games, mostly off the bench. Olympiacos was fully aware of his potential and signed him the following summer. Teodosic earned Euroleague MVP honors in 2010, when he made it to the final with Olympiacos. He returned to the Euroleague title game with CSKA last season at age 25.
2- Vassilis Spanoulis
Few remember that Vassilis Spanoulis played the ULEB Cup before becoming a Euroleague superstar. He took part in the 2004-05 ULEB Cup season with Maroussi Honda and averaged 15.2 points and 3.8 assists in 12 games. Despite boosting his numbers to 20.5 points and 6.5 assists in the two-game quarterfinals, Spanoulis was unable to lead Maroussi past Makedonikos. Spanoulis shortly after joined Panathinaikos, won the Euroleague title in 2009 and earned Final Four MVP honors. He would do the same with Olympiacos - title and Final Four MVP - in 2012, when he was chosen to the All-Euroleague first team and led one of the greatest comebacks ever seen in a title game.
1- Ramunas Siskauskas
Ramunas Siskauskas enjoyed a long and fruitful career before recently hanging up his laces. Siskauskas was already a EuroBasket champion with Lithuania when he played the 2003-04 ULEB Cup season with Lietuvos Rytas. He averaged 14.6 points on 62.3% two-point shooting and 2.2 assists in 14 games in helping Rytas make it to the quarterfinals. His talent and unbelievable one-on-one skills brought Siskauskas to Benetton Treviso the following season and the rest his story; Siskauskas won the Euroleague title with Panathinaikos in 2007, successfully defended it with CSKA in 2008 and played two more finals with the Russian powerhouse in 2009 and 2012. He also won domestic league titles in Lithuania, Italy, Greece and Russia.
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