European Team Histories
They are known at home as the "French Celtics" for their green uniforms, and the aspirations of Adecco ASVEL are as lofty as those of the legendary Bostonians. The Villeurbanne legend had long been complete in France, where 15 domestic titles are evidence of the club's tradition and commitment. However, all those titles were sandwiched within 33 seasons between 1949 and 1981 until the 2001-02 season. Villeurbanne climbed back to prominence in the early 1990s, but the goal of winning the French League remained elusive despite several French Cups and, in Europe, semifinal appearances in the 1996 Korac Cup and the 1997 Euroleague. For five seasons out of six, ASVEL rode high in the regular season and made the finals in the playoffs, only to lose, often despite homecourt advantage.
Until 2002. This time, ASVEL roared through the playoff round and swept arch-rival Pau-Orthez in the finals to earn its first domestic crown in 12 years. This success carried over to the 2002-03 Euroleague season. Balanced scoring and effective use of the 3 point shot propelled the club to the Top 16 of the Euroleague, a remarkable accomplishment for a club with a roster without superstars. Domestically, ASVEL used its momentum to roll into the French League finals, where it could not overcome the homecourt advantage of Pau Orthez. After a 2003-04 season to forget, the team bounced back by returning to the French league semifinals after mis,sing the playoffs the previous year. ASVEL enters its first-ever ULEB Cup apperance with the ambition to take back its place among the continent's top clubs.
Khimki Basketball Club was founded 5 January, 1997, and in its first season, 1997/98 the team debuted in the country’s fist championship league swiping first place and consolidating its participation in the Russian Federation’s Basketball Superleague.
The following year, Khimki positioned itself among the top 10 clubs in the nation, guaranteeing them a passport to the European Korac Cup, where they beat leading champions Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria. Those years were highlighted by such astros as the playmaker for the Russian National Team- Sergei Bazarevich, junior Euro champions - Igor Kornishin and Valery Sizov, and repeat-winner of the European and World Championships and guard for the Russian National Team- Vitaly Nosov.
During the following two seasons, Khimki took another step up by winning seventh place twice in the National Championship, just one step away from the Korac Cup play-offs.
Khimki’s 2002/03 season witnessed this team, based in the greater Moscow area, climb higher towards the heights of the Russian Federation basketball summits, playing to top form, and demonstrating an effectively stellar game, with impact... Khimki won fourth place! BC Khimki became the only Euro club to gain over the standing Russian champion and participant in the Euro leagues semifinals- PBC CSKA, and on their own court.
Likewise, Khimki struck another first in its history, dominating the group phase of the Eurocups competition, the European Championship Cups, all accomplished with the sheer force of exclusively Russian players.
During the 2003/04 season, Khimki once again conquered their own place among national Superleague leaders, winning fifth place, participating in the semifinals of the National Cup, and passed to play in the FIBA-Euroleague quarterfinals.
Russian champion, 2003-national team player and guard Mikhail Solovev; national team forward, Aleksandr Petrenko; Euro championship Cup winner and five-time winner of the Russian championship captain for BC Khimki Aleksey Vadeev; the promising 2003-National Team player Denis Ershov (who NBA scouts have been eyeing); Universiadi-2003 silver winners, Russian Cup holder Igor Zamansky, and NEBL champ Aleksey Savkov; winner of Euro and World Championship junior and playmaker Vladimir Demin.
In mid-season the team was bolstered by draft players, from the San Antonio Spurs like Serguey Karaulov and young players Roman Levter and Vitaly Fridzon. Also for the first time in its history, legends from the far west were incorporated, like Melvin Booker, perimeter Oscar Torres from Venezuela, and champion of the Olympics and South America Championship and the Pan-American Games of the Argentine National Team, Rubén Wolkowisky. And last but certainly not least, the Serb forward and best sniper from last year’s championship, Vladimir Vuksanovic.
From day one, Khimki has relied on the talent and skill of Coach Sergei Elevich, titleholder of honor for achievement in the field of sports awarded by the Government of the Russian Federation.
The expanding horizon
In the 2002-2003 season, Khimki Juniors (Khimki-2) won the silver medal of the Superleague A of the Russian Championship. Players of the national teams, depending on age, defend Khimki’s colors: Aleksey Kuznetzov, Konstantin Kotov, Aleksey Firsov, Yvgueni Sazanov, Igor Kornishin, and Aleksey Chizhov.
Khimki’s youth players (Class of 1984-1985) won third place in the 2002-2003 DUBL Championship; during this time strong ties were established between the different schools for kids and youth of the Olympic substitutes.
Khimki, being the only club from the Moscow Region playing in the Russian Federation tournaments with four teams, has enormous potential that revives the once famous basketball traditions from the Moscow vicinity.
Its representatives have been, at one time or another, Olympic Champions: Aleksandr Boloshev, now replacing the Director General for BC Khimki; World Champion Valery Miloserdov; and Euro Champion Valery Sizov, former captain for Khimki and coach for BC Khimki.
A desire to stand atop Europe has defined CSKA Moscow during its long history of success, and no doubt will define the club again in 2005-06, perhaps more than ever. That's because CSKA will enter the new season looking to make up for some unfinished business. Never before CSKA in 2004-05 had any European pro basketball team won so much while feeling it was not quite enough. CSKA's triumph in the Russian League finals, plus that of the Russian Cup earlier, were still bittersweet for a team that had lived through one of the most amazing seasons in European basketball history. CSKA posted an unprecedented 60-4 overall record, but even with that success rate, was left disappointed by not winning the Euroleague Final Four, held in Moscow. With great ambition throughout its history, CSKA will now be more motivated than ever. CSKA's stands as the owner of four European club titles, fourth-most of any club.
It also boasts and endless list of 37 domestic titles in the Soviet Union and Russian domestic leagues. CSKA's 25 titles between 1945 and 1990 amounted to more than half of those available in the highly competitive Soviet Union. Then CSKA achieved total dominance in the Russian League, winning all nine crowns between 1992 and 2000. On the European level, CSKA has made the Final Four on five occasions in the last decade, including the last three Euroleague seasons. Three more Russian League titles and a Russian Cup have also come, but CSKA is still hungry. The team's plans over three years had been made with the Moscow Final Four in mind. While CSKA fans must wait another year for their team’s first Euroleague trophy since 1971, there is no doubt that both lived through one of the most exciting seasons possible in 2004-05, and will be looking to do so again next season.
The history books of European basketball will always have a unique place for the 2004-05 edition of Maccabi Tel Aviv, the first team in 14 years to win back-to-back Euroleague titles. History cannot record, however, that very few teams anywhere have won with such flair as Maccabi. It had always been the law that defense won titles. But there's a new law on the books now, and Maccabi continues writing it. A winning tradition at home – which included new Israeli League and Israeli Cup titles in 2004-05 – has always meant confidence on the international scene for Maccabi. The club has now won 45 of a possible 51 domestic league titles since 1954, in addition to 35 Israeli Cup trophies. In Europe, Maccabi only looks up at a couple teams after having now won five European club titles and finished second six other times.
Its first European crown, in 1977, put Maccabi on the basketball map to stay. Its second, in 1981, was all the extra proof anyone needed. A formula of complementing the best Israeli players with the most select players from abroad keeps working for Maccabi. A Suproleague title in 2001, Maccabi's first in 20 years, broke a string of continental title-game appearances that ended without trophies. For the next continental title, Maccabi fans didn’t have to wait long. It came in 2003-04, to top off a season to remember for all Maccabi fans. A miracle three-pointer to survive the Top 16 that year has become one of the classic shots in European basketball history. Once in the 2004 Final Four, Maccabi turned to record-breaking with a 118-point title game performance that had to be seen to be believed. Now, after a 2004-05 title repeat nearly as commanding, everyone believes. Maccabi's dedication, hard work and great style make it the team to beat in the 2005-06 Euroleague season.
Virtus Roma was founded in 1960, and since then has always been one of the strongest teams not only in the Italian League, also in European basketball. Curiously, the club never managed to amass titles: it was Italian champ in 1983 and Euroleague king in 1984, defeating Barcelona in the finals which an unbelievable perfomance by Larry Wright, who helped the team to rally from a 16-point deficit to become the continental champion. It also added a Korac Cup title in 1992 by defeating Scavolini in the two-way finals with stars like Dino Radja and Rick Mahorn. Roma reached the Korac Cup final in 1993, losing to Adecco Milan in the finals. The team was been consistent throughout the decades, making it to the Italian League playoffs and qualifying to play European competitions often.
Virtus Roma had to wait until the 2002-03 season to reach even higher as the team, led by an outstanding Carlton Myers, soared to one of its best seasons ever in the domestic league, 25-9 and a second-place finish in the regular season. Roma rolled over Pompea Napoli in the best-of-five series with a 3-1 victory, but saw Skipper Bologna rally and win by all of two points in the fifth and last game of the semifinals. Even with that, the team, already under the name of Lottomatica Roma, made it to the 2003-04 Euroleague and host the opening game against Barcelona, but the team could not reach the Top 16. Last season, Lottomatica made it to the Italian Cup semifinals and once coach Svetislav Pesic arrived in the team, Roma rallied in the final games of the regular season to reach the playoffs and knock off Montepaschi Siena to reach the semifinals. With a successful coach and great ambition, Lottomatica Roma will be a top candidate in the ULEB Cup this season.
Barcelona has won seven of the last 11 Spanish League titles, and in the spring of 2003 conquered a triple crown - victories in the Spanish League, Spanish King's Cup and, above all, the Euroleague Final Four. The club's first continental title was won at Palau Saint Jordi in Barcelona before its home fans and stands as the brightest moment in club history. And that is despite a long and storied history. Over the years, Barcelona had already clinched several European trophies - such as Saporta Cups in 1985 and 1986, the Korac Cup in 1987 and 1999 - to go with its national success.
In 2001, Barcelona celebrated the 75th anniversary of its basketball team, with another measure of that success being 19 national cup victories, the first four coming way back in the 1940's. Add to that 14 Spanish League titles, all but one of them coming after 1980, and 14 more second-place domestic finishes. But until 2003, Barcelona had one vacancy in its trophy case. The team had reached the Euroleague Final Four as many as seven times before, and lost another continental final in 1984, so the euphoric relief that came with its 2003 Euroleague victory in front of nearly 17,000 fans remains a joyous memory for fans. The team returned to the Final Four in 2006 but lost to the soon to be Euroleague Champions CSKA Moscow in the Semi-Finals 75-84. Barcelona is certainly going to be hungry for a title next season.