EuroCup stepping stones: Sasha Vujacic

May 20, 2020 by Print
EuroCup stepping stones: Sasha Vujacic

Sasha Vujacic began his professional basketball career when he joined Italian side Snaidero Udine at age 16. He was still a teenager when he made his EuroCup debut in the competition's inaugural season, 2002-03. Even though Vujacic only played two EuroCup campaigns, his second one was with Fiat Turin 15 years later. A lot happened to Vujacic in between those seasons - he won back-to-back NBA championships with Los Angeles Lakers, founded his own winery in California and was once engaged to professional tennis player Maria Sharapova, among other highlights.

EuroCup experience

Nicknamed "The Machine", Vujacic did well in his first EuroCup season with 12.2 points, 3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals in 11 games. He led Udine to the 2002-03 EuroCup Eighthfinals, where Metis Varese won their two-game total points series. His best game came against Ural Great Perm: Vujacic had 23 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting and 5 rebounds for a PIR of 27 to lead Udine to a 90-86 win. No other player age 18 or younger had a better PIR average (12.6) until Ricky Rubio of DKV Joventut Badalona (12.9) in the 2007-08 season. Vujacic returned to the EuroCup at age 33 and averaged 11.2 points in 16 games for Turin in the 2017-18 campaign, including a season-high 21 points against Rytas Vilnius. He helped Turin reach the EuroCup Top 16.

What came in between

Vujacic played one more season before he was drafted by the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. He would play the next seven seasons there and accomplished many achievements, including winning consecutive NBA championships in 2009 and 2010. His finest moment came in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals against Boston when Vujacic hit a pair of free throws with 11.7 seconds left to help Los Angeles put the victory - and the championship - on ice. Vujacic also played for Anadolu Efes Istanbul for two seasons and helped it reach the 2013 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs. He played a third EuroLeague season with Laboral Kutxa Vitoria-Gasteiz. Vujacic went back to the NBA and played for New Jersey, Los Angeles Clippers and New York. Vujacic averaged 10.0 points on 40.9% three-point shooting in 48 EuroLeague games with Efes and Baskonia. He is still playing for Tezenis Verona in the Italian second division.