Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
Adidas Next Generation Tournament
Club profile: Union Olimpija Ljubljana
Jul 19, 2013
Union Olimpija Ljubljana turns over a new page in club history as it enters the Eurocup for the first time. One of the giants of European basketball, Olimpija has competed in the Euroleague in each of the past 17 seasons, and now is ready to focus on a new challenge. Last season, Olimpija won the Slovenian Cup for the sixth year running, but did not advance in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, fell short of reaching the final four in the Adriatic League, and for the fourth consecutive year lost to Krka Novo Mesto in the Slovenian League finals. Nevertheless, the team from the capital city remains the biggest name and most-popular squad in Slovenian basketball. Olimpija has won 15 Slovenian League titles since the league was formed in 1992 and has been able to overcome all kinds of obstacles to remain among European basketball's best. The club dates back to 1946, but did not adopt the name Olimpija until 1954. It was an early power in the Yugoslavian League, where the great Ivo Daneu led the team to conquer six domestic titles between 1957 and 1970. A new era began with Slovenia's independence, when Olimpija's took its superiority to another level. Olimpija won the league and cup trophies in Slovenia for 10 consecutive years and found success in European competitions, too. Olimpija won the Saporta Cup in 1994 and made its way to the 1997 Euroleague Final Four. Dusan Hauptman and Roman Horvat were Olimpija's heroes in 1994 when the team used a rain of three-pointers to beat Tau 91-81 in the Saporta Cup final in Laussane, Switzerland. Arriel McDonald, Marko Milic and Marko Tusek helped Olimpija advance to the 1997 Final Four before losing to eventual champion Olympiacos. Olimpija has been able to compete with the best clubs in Europe ever since and was close to returning to the Final Four once again in 2003, but fell one win short of achieving that goal. Over the years the club has managed to land and develop young, promising players who have gone on to become stars, including Sani Becirovic, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Rasho Nesterovic, Jiri Welsch and Beno Udrih. Olimpija was the original Adriatic League champion in 2002, which added another prestigious title to its roll of honors. Despite a title-free season in 2006-07, Olimpija returned to the top in Slovenia over the next two seasons. In 2010-11, Olimpija was one of the best stories early in the Euroleague campaign as it started 3-0, including a win over eventual champ Panathinaikos. The team recorded five home wins in the brand new Stozice Arena to reach the Top 16. Each game was a basketball celebration, as fans carried Olimpija to its first Top 16 appearance since 2004 and then set ticket sales records as it filled the arena in no time for the next three home games. That same season Olimpija reached the Adriatic League finals before losing at Stozice to Partizan mt:s. The last two seasons, however, have not gone as well, but the dedicated fans in Ljubljana are itching for another big season in a new competition, the Eurocup.
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