Stepping Stones: Vassilis Spanoulis

Jul 28, 2020 by Print
Stepping Stones: Vassilis Spanoulis

Vassilis Spanoulis was a promising 22-year-old player when he made his ULEB Cup debut with Maroussi Honda in the 2004-05 season. The combo-guard had started his career in his hometown, Larissa, and this season would be his fourth season with Maroussi. The season before, Spanoulis helped Maroussi to reach the Greek League finals and the FIBA EuroChallenge championship game, though it lost to Panathinaikos Athens and UNICS Kazan, respectively. Maroussi was seeking bigger challenges when it joined the ULEB Cup, in which Spanoulis would have the main role for the first time in his professional career.

EuroCup experience

Maroussi had a strong regular season with a 7-3 record to advance to the elimination rounds. Spanoulis made his ULEB Cup debut against Donar Groningen on November 9, 2004, in which he scored 11 points off the bench. He kept scoring fluently through the regular season, getting 23 points in the rematch against Donar, 18 against Gran Canaria and 14 each against Cholet Basket and Telindus Ostend. At the end of this stage, Spanoulis averaged 13.8 points and 3.2 assists in nine games. He was the team's second-best scorer after Roderick Blakney (15.7 ppg.).

Maroussi swept the two-game total-points eighthfinals against Deichmann Slask Wroclaw; Spanoulis did not play in the first leg, but shined in the second game at home to the tune of 17 points, 4 assists and a PIR of 22. Maroussi then faced Makedonikos Kozani in the quarterfinals. Spanoulis had 17 points in Game 1, which Makedonikos won 89-92 behind 24 points from Pete Mickeal. In the second leg, Spanoulis set career-highs of 24 points and a PIR of 27 to lead Maroussi to a 75-76 victory, however, Makedonikos advanced with an aggregate score of 167-165. Spanoulis ended up averaging 15.2 points in 12 games that season.

What came after

Panathinaikos signed Spanoulis the following summer and he had a stellar EuroLeague debut with 14.5 points in 23 games in the 2005-06 season. After a season with Houston of the NBA, Spanoulis played three more seasons with Panathinaikos; he captured the EuroLeague trophy in 2009 and was named Final Four MVP. Then Spanoulis switched powerhouses, joining Olympiacos, and has played there ever since. He led Olympiacos to its first EuroLeague title in 15 years in 2012 with a comeback for the ages against CSKA Moscow. The Reds did it again in 2013 by downing Real Madrid in the championship game. Spanoulis earned Final Four MVP honors in both 2012 and 2013, joining Toni Kukoc as the only players to take the award three times.

Spanoulis led Olympiacos back to the EuroLeague championship games in 2015 and 2017. He was chosen as the EuroLeague MVP for the 2012-13 season, was named to the All-EuroLeague First Team three times and the All-EuroLeague Second Team five times. He is the competition's all-time leader in points (4,239), assists (1,516) and fouls drawn (1,514). Additionally, he won seven Greek League championships and four Greek Cups, a gold medal with Greece at EuroBasket 2005, a silver medal at the 2006 World Cup and a bronze at EuroBasket 2009. Spanoulis was chosen for the 2010-20 EuroLeague All-Decade Team.