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Eurocup Top 10 – Coaches
Jun 12, 2012
The Eurocup has featured many great coaches throughout its first decade. There have been European basketball legends who led their teams to great success and up-and-coming coaches who proved themselves on the way to the top. Some have made the most out of limited resources to go deep into the competition, while others have taken big names and gotten them to work together for a common goal. To celebrate 10 wonderful years of Eurocup basketball, Eurocupbasketball.com has compiled its very own Top 10 coaches list to honor the best of the men in suits that have manned the sidelines as the Eurocup has become more and more demanding.
10 – Pedro Martinez
(Gran Canaria, Estudiantes, Akasvayu)
Veteran boss Pedro Martinez holds the record for most Eurocup games coached – 72 throughout seven seasons with Gran Canaria, Estudiantes and Akasvayu Girona. Martinez made his Eurocup debut with Gran Canaria in the 2004-05 season and helped that team reach the elimination rounds. His best season came in 2007-08, when he guided Akasvayu to the Eurocup title game by downing powerhouses like Unics and Dynamo Moscow in the process. Martinez, who also reached the quarterfinals with Gran Canaria in 2009-10, boasts a winning record in each of his seasons and an overall record of 47-25 in the Eurocup.
9- Oktay Mahmuti
(Benetton Basket, Galatasaray)
The first to be chosen as the Eurocup Coach of the Year, Oktay Mahmuti has had three solid seasons in the competition. After a long and successful career with Efes Pilsen, Mahmuti arrived in Treviso and helped Benetton to reach the elimination rounds in 2007-08. The following season, Mahmuti led Benetton to the Eurocup Final Eight in style as the team was the first to clinch a spot in the season-ending tourney. Mahmuti later moved to Galatasaray, which he led to the Eurocup Last 16 in 2010-11 and to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 last season.
8 - Aleksandar Petrovic
(Lleida, Zadar, Cedevita)
The 2010-11 Eurocup Coach of the Year has enjoyed a four-season Eurocup career that started with Caprabo Lleida midway through the 2003-04 season. He led Lleida to six wins in eight games en route to the quarterfinals. Four years later, Petrovic took Zadar to the 2007-08 Last 16. In 2008-09, he left Zadar before the team managed to make it to the Final Eight, where they were stopped by iurbentia Bilbao. Perhaps his most impressive effort came with Cedevita Zagreb. In the 2010-11 season, Petrovic took Cedevita all the way from the Qualifying Round to the Eurocup Finals and was rewarded by being chosen as the Eurocup Coach of the Year for another season in which he and his team bettered the expectations.
7- Evgeny Pashutin
Evgeny Pashutin arrived in Kazan in the summer of 2010 with the goal of winning the competition. He managed to make the most of his game knowledge and run-and-gun style by leading Unics to win nine of their first 10 games to reach the quarterfinals in style. Unics swept its series against Pepsi Caserta and great scouting allowed Pashutin's team to deactivate Eurocup MVP Dontaye Draper in the semifinals against Cedevita. Not only did Pashutin lead Unics to the 2010-11 Eurocup trophy, his team scored 92 points in the final against Cajasol Sevilla. Sometimes offense wins titles – and Pashutin proved it.
6- Dusan Ivkovic
In his lone Eurocup season, coaching great Dusan Ivkovic showed everyone how to take a star-studded team all the way to the title. Dynamo had a strong team in the 2005-06 season led by Lazaros Papadopoulos, Antonis Fotsis, Ruben Douglas and Mire Chatman. Coach Ivkovic kept everyone involved with very well-defined roles and Dynamo simply rolled. Ivkovic's team won its regular season group and went undefeated in six elimination round games against Spirou Charleroi, Crvena Zvezda and Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem to get to the title game. Dynamo rounded out a near-perfect season with a 60-73 win in the final against Aris. Ivkovic had done it again.
5- Sharon Drucker
(Hapoel Migdal, Lietuvos Rytas, BC Oostende, Aris BSA 2003)
In Coach Sharon Drucker’s first season in the competition, he already made a name for himself by leading Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem to the ULEB Cup title in 2003-04 against all odds. After surviving the qualifying rounds on points differential by small details, Jerusalem recorded one of the greatest upsets in competition history – thanks to Drucker's outstanding game plan – by downing Real Madrid 73-82. He also coached Lietuvos Rytas, helped Belgian powerhouse Telindus Oostende to the 2008-09 elimination rounds and guided Aris to the Last 16 in 2010-11. All told Drucker has taken part in 55 Eurocup games.
4- Aito Garcia Reneses
Legendary head coach Aito Garcia Reneses led Joventut to the 2007-08 ULEB Cup title by playing some of the best basketball ever seen in the competition. Aito’s team featured outstanding defense and a dynamic, fun-to-watch offense led by its young superstars Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio. Garcia Reneses had previously coached Joventut in two Eurocup seasons. They reached the quarterfinals in 2003-04. Not only did Joventut play great in 2007-08, Garcia Reneses's squad got the best results in competition history. Joventut won 16 of its 17 games on its way to the title, rounding it out with a no-doubt-about-it 54-79 win in the final against Akasvayu.
3- Joan Plaza
(Real Madrid, Cajasol Sevilla)
Only three coaches have been to the Eurocup title game with different teams. Joan Plaza was able to do it with a powerhouse and a newcomer. First, he helped mighty Real Madrid win the competition in the 2006-07 season. In his first season as an elite-level head coach, Plaza's team bounced back from a shaky 1-3 start to win 12 of its last 13 games and lift the trophy by downing Lietuvos Rytas 75-87 in the final. Plaza later coached Cajasol Sevilla in the 2010-11 Eurocup and used a more defensive-minded style to lead the Eurocup debutant to the Finals. Cajasol downed Benetton in the semifinal Treviso, but Unics prevented Plaza from a second Eurocup title in the final.
2- Neven Spahija
(Krka Novo Mesto, Power Electronics Valencia)
Another two-time finalist, Coach Neven Spahija has done remarkably well in his three seasons in the competition. First, Spahija led Krka Novo Mesto all the way to the original ULEB Cup finals in 2002-03. They downed Lleida and Joventut before losing against Pamesa Valencia in the finals. Six years later, Spahija joined Pamesa early in the 2008-09 season and helped it to reach the Eurocup Final Eight, but mighty BC Khimki stood in its way to success in the quarterfinals. Everything clicked in 2009-10, when Spahija led Power Electronics Valencia to the Eurocup title in his first full season with the club. Valencia downed Alba 44-67 in the title game as the team shattered several Eurocup final defensive records on the way to the trophy.
1- Rimas Kurtinaitis
(Slask Wroclaw, Lietuvos Rytas, VEF Riga, BC Khimki Moscow Region)
As the only man to lead two teams to the competition’s peak twice, Coach Rimas Kurtinaitis has been the king of Eurocup coaches this decade. Kurtinaitis started his Eurocup career with Asco Slask Wroclaw, which he led to the 2007-08 elimination rounds. The next season, Kurtinaitis guided Lietuvos Rytas to its second Eurocup title in spectacular fashion. A wild fourth-quarter rally saw Rytas to overtake BC Khimki 80-74 in the final. Kurtinaitis won despite a limited rotation, in part due to his insightful decision to use Chuck Eidson as point guard. Rytas won the title and Eidson was chosen as the 2008-09 MVP. After a short stay with VEF Riga, Kurtinaitis led BC Khimki to the Eurocup title last season. His team handled the pressure of being the favorite with poise and determination. Khimki topped Valencia Basket 77-68 in the title game and Kurtinaitis got the chance to lift the Eurocup trophy for the second time.