EuroCup Star Turn: Carlos Delfino

Jun 30, 2020 by Print
EuroCup Star Turn: Carlos Delfino

The 7DAYS EuroCup has proved an attractive competition for many already-established and even world-renowned players over the years. Carlos Delfino, one of the few players to have found success at the highest levels of basketball on three continents, is among them. The versatile swingman had two stints in the EuroCup; one was with Khimki Moscow Region at the peak of his playing days and the second came near the end as a wily veteran for Fiat Turin. At both stops, he left his mark.

What came before

A native of Argentine, Delfino began playing with Libertad Sunchales before his talent drew scouts from across the world to see him in action. Delfino was still a teenager when he moved to Italy and became a key piece for Reggio Calabria. He signed for Fortitudo Skipper Bologna just before his 20th birthday and became a true star on a EuroLeague power. Delfino led Skipper in performance index rating (13.7), rebounds (6.0 rpg.) and steals (1.7 spg.) and ranked second in scoring (12.4 ppg.) in 2003-04. He dominated with a career-high 27 points against Montepaschi Siena in the semifinals at the Final Four in Tel Aviv to carry Skipper to the championship game, where it fell to host Maccabi. That summer, Delfino's career reached new heights when he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Athens as a member of the Argentinian national team.

Reigning NBA champion Detroit signed Delfino in the summer of 2004 and he played the next three seasons there, helping the club win its division and win at least two playoff series in each season. He was traded to Toronto for the 2007-08 season and played an even bigger role on the team as its sixth-man. Delfino reached the 2008 playoffs with Toronto, too. That summer he became a free agent and ultimately decided to return to EuroCup.

EuroCup experience

Khimki signed Delfino to lead a star-studded squad that included Jorge Garbajosa, Milt Palacio and Kelly McCarty, whose goal was to challenge for the 2009 EuroCup crown. And challenge they did. Khimki won its regular season group with a 5-1 record, however, an injury cost him all but one game in the Last 16 and Khimki slumped to finish second in its group, behind Dynamo Moscow, with a 3-3 record. That season the title was decided via a final-eight and Delfino was back and ready for those games. He scored 12 points to help Khimki beat Valencia in the quarterfinals and dominated with 18 in a victory over Bilbao in the semis. Khimki met its match in the championship game, which Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius came from behind to win 80-74 despite 16 points by Delfino. For the season, he led Khimki in steals (1.5 spg.) and was second in scoring (13.0 ppg.) and performance index rating (13.7).

What came after

Milwaukee signed Delfino in 2009 and he became a starter on the team as he reached the playoffs for the fifth time in as many NBA seasons. Delfino averaged an NBA career-high 11.5 points in 2010-11, the second of his three seasons there. He also played one season for Houston before injuries derailed Delfino's career. After three years away from the courts, Delfino returned to action with his national team at the 2016 Olympics and resumed his club career with Boca Juniors in March 2017. Delfino briefly returned to the EuroLeague with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz at the start of the 2017-18 season.

Delfino's last time playing in Europe came during the 2018-19 season. He signed with Fiat Turin and appeared in six games in the EuroCup – including three as a starter – during which he averaged 7.0 points and 3.0 rebounds. He also played 10 games in the Italian League and was worth 7.7 points and 3.2 boards. He moved to his old club, Fortitudo Bologna, during the season and helped it make history by securing promotion from Italy's second division back to the top level. Using the past tense regarding Delfino's career is tricky. He has not yet retired and was mulling offers to join teams last season when COVID-19 brought basketball to a halt. Perhaps he will grace EuroCup courts with his presence yet again this season.