The 7DAYS EuroCup has proved an attractive competition for many already-established and even world-renowned players over the years. One of them is scoring machine Igor Rakocevic, who had two stints in the competition, one as he entered the prime of his career and almost a decade later in his final season as a professional basketball player. He played two EuroCup seasons with Crvena Zvezda and another one with Pamesa Valencia.
What came before
Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Rakocevic started his career with Zvezda. In the 1997-98 season, at age 20, Rakocevic averaged 12.5 points and helped Zvezda win the Yugoslavian League. He joined Buducnost Podgorica and played there for two seasons. He won another Yugoslavian League crown with Buducnost in 2001. The following season, 2001-02, Rakocevic averaged 17.7 points in 14 EuroLeague games; he ranked 11th in scoring in the competition. He helped Yugoslavia win respective gold medals at EuroBasket 2001 and the 2002 World Cup. Rakocevic joined Minnesota of the NBA in the summer of 2002, where he received limited playing time and averaged 1.9 points in 42 games. After being released, Rakocevic decided to re-join Zvezda in the summer of 2003.
Rakocevic returned to Belgrade to play a leading role and proved it all season long in all of Zvezda's competitions. He led the 2003-04 Adriatic League in scoring (23.2 ppg.) also posted great numbers in the Serbia and Montenegro League (22.6 ppg.), won the Serbia and Montenegro Cup and made his ULEB Cup debut. He scored 20 points in an 89-81 opening-night home win against Spirou Charleroi on November 11, 2003. Rakocevic broke the 20-point mark three times with 23 against Metis Varese, 29 against Etosa Alicante and 31 in the rematch against Varese. Despite his efforts, Zvezda did not advance past the regular season.
The following season, Rakocevic joined competition contender Valencia. On a team full of stars such as Fabricio Oberto, Dejan Tomasevic and Ale Montecchia, Rakocevic stepped in for injured Antoine Rigaudeau to lead Valencia all season long. He got better as the season progressed and averaged 15.7 points in regular-season action, 28.5 in the eighthfinals against DKV Joventut Badalona and 17.0 points in the quarterfinals against Charleroi. Once in the two-game, total-points semifinals, Rakocevic scored 32 points in Game 1 to lead Valencia to a 77-75 win against Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. In the second game in the Lithuanian capital, Rakocevic shined again with 17 points, but Rytas prevailed 75-65 and ended up lifting the trophy.
What came after
Rakocevic joined Real Madrid the following season and shined in the 2005-06 EuroLeague, averaging 14.8 points in 20 games and helping Los Blancos reach the playoffs. He would then join Tau Ceramica Vitoria-Gasteiz, where he became a EuroLeague star. Rakocevic won the 2006-07 Alphonso Ford Euroleague Top Scorer Trophy with 16.2 points per game and was named to the 2006-07 All-EuroLeague Second Team after helping Tau reach the Final Four. Rakocevic and Tau returned to the Final Four in 2008 and, even though he had 19 points in the semifinal, CSKA triumphed 79-83 and advanced to the championship game. A year later, Rakocevic was named to the All-EuroLeague First Team and was the competition's top scorer (18.0 ppg.) for the second time in his career. He also helped Baskonia win the Spanish League in 2008 and lifted the Spanish Copa del Rey in 2009.
Rakocevic joined Efes before the start of the 2009-10 season and played there for two years. He would win his third Ford Trophy after averaging 17.2 points in the 2010-11 season. He played his final EuroLeague season with Montepaschi Siena, which he helped win the Italian League and Cup double in 2012. He finished his EuroLeague career with 2,328 points, and his scoring average (14.6 ppg.) is the third-best by players with at least 2,300 points, after Nando De Colo (3,069 points, 16.0 ppg.) and Marcus Brown (2,739 points, 15.3 ppg.). Rakocevic would play one more season with Zvezda to go full circle. He helped Zvezda win the Serbian Radivoj Korac Cup in 2013 and had a solid EuroCup season with a career-best 19.5 points on 52.5% three-point shooting. He finished his EuroCup career with 705 points in just 37 games. His scoring average (19.1 ppg.) is the best in EuroCup history.