EuroCup Star Turn: Gregor Fucka

Aug 25, 2020 by Print
EuroCup Star Turn: Gregor Fucka

One of the first stretch-fours in the game, before that even became a basketball term, Gregor Fucka was one of the biggest basketball stars in Europe at the turn of the century. During two decades of playing professionally, Fucka managed to reach the very top, both in the EuroLeague and on the national team stage, before displaying his ever-lasting talents late in his career in the EuroCup.

What came before

After starting his professional career as a teenager with Union Olimpija Ljubljana in his native Slovenia, Fucka moved across the border to nearby Trieste, Italy, under the guidance of Coach Bogdan Tanjevic and with Dejan Bodiroga as his teammate. Fucka continued building his career in Italy and decided to play for the Italian national team. He won his first Italian League title with Olimpia Milan in 1996 and then led the Italian national team to a silver medal at EuroBasket 1997 and a gold medal in 1999 as tournament MVP. In the meantime, Fucka joined Fortitudo Bologna and as one of the biggest continental stars at the turn of the century, he led that club to the domestic league title in 2000, too.

When the new EuroLeague formed, Fucka starred in the competition for Fortitudo. In the competition's inaugural season, Fucka ranked ninth with 19.7 points, fourth with a performance index rating of 25.2, sixth in rebounding (8.4 rpg.) and sixth in steals (2.3 spg.), helping Fortitudo, under the name of PAF, reach the playoff semifinals where it was swept in a best-of-five series by city rival and an eventual champion Virtus. Those performances landed Fucka All-EuroLeague honors. He continued to shine the following season in which he again ranked among the league's top 10 in points (19.1 ppg.), rebounds (8.2 rpg.) and PIR (21.4).

Ahead of the 2002-03 campaign, Fucka joined FC Barcelona and in his first season there helped the team win its first EuroLeague title. Fucka posted 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds that season, including a pair of huge performances at the Final Four. In a semifinal victory over CSKA, Fucka tallied 21 points and 9 rebounds. He followed it up with 17 points plus 6 rebounds in the championship game against Benetton to win the EuroLeague title at the age of 31. Fucka spent three more seasons with Barcelona and posted double digits in points in two of those campaigns. He played his final EuroLeague season in 2007-08 with Lottomatica Roma. In 133 appearances in the competition, Fucka averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals.

EuroCup experience

For the 2008-09 season, Fucka returned to Fortitudo, where he had the opportunity, at the age of 37, to play in the EuroCup for the first time. Fucka debuted on the road against Artland Dragons and over 31 minutes he posted 7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals in a narrow loss. A week later, Fucka shined like he was in his prime against one of the competition's top contenders, Pamesa Valencia. Fucka played 27 minutes and starred with 17 points on 6-for-8 two-point shooting plus 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block for a game-high performance index rating 30. However, Valencia pulled out a 71-77 win. The following week Fortitudo registered its first victory, 59-70 at FMP Zeleznik with Fucka posting 8 points. Fortitudo beat FMP at home, too, with Fucka in a more modest role, before the team lost its chance of progressing to the next stage after an 89-93 home loss against Artland in Round 5. Fucka had 4 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals in that game, before going out with a 14-minute scoreless appearance on the road at Valencia. Fucka finished his six-game EuroCup stint with 6.3 points on 61.9% two-point shooting 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals, averaging 10.8 PIR in those games.

What came after

Fucka played two more seasons in Italy with Pistoia and ended his career in 2011, just a few months before his 40th birthday. Fucka played professionally for more than two decades and compiled a formidable list of trophies and accolades, which included the 2003 EuroLeague crown with Barcelona. Fucka was also a 2007 FIBA EuroCup champ with Girona, won the Italian League and Spanish League crowns twice each.