by: Frank Lawlor,
May 30, 2011
Dimitris Diamantidis - Panathinaikos
In the annals of elite basketball, perhaps no player ever has enjoyed such a successful weekend as Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos Athens did earlier this month at the 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four. By the time he left Barcelona late Sunday night, he was carrying five personal trophies: those of Best Defender, All-Euroleague First Team, Turkish Airlines Euroleague MVP, Final Four MVP and his personal-sized replica of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague championship cup. It was the full-size version of that cup, however, that mattered most to Diamantidis. As the Panathinaikos captain, he was handed the weekend's biggest trophy first, but called on the team's longest-serving players, Kostas Tsarsaris and Mike Batiste, to help him lift it. The gesture explained a lot about how Diamantidis – who also set a Final Four record with 18 assists while joining Dejan Bodiroga and Toni Kukoc as the only two-time MVPs of the event – thinks about the game of basketball. "The biggest honor for me is that my team has conquered the Euroleague title six times, and on three occasions I was there to celebrate," Diamantidis told "I think that is the most important issue. When your career ends what matters is always the titles you have conquered with your team." more
by: Frank Lawlor,
May 24, 2011
Zeljko Obradovic - Panathinaikos
Starting in the late 1970s, as a teenager playing in his hometown of Cacak, Serbia, knowing that he wanted to coach someday, Zeljko Obradovic studied for his future profession. He took notes after every practice as he moved up as a player to Partizan Belgrade and the Yugoslav national team. Now, after two decades on the bench, Obradovic has proved himself to be one of the best coaches in basketball history. His eighth Euroleague title, won with Panathinaikos at the 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague in Barcelona earlier this month, gave him double any other coach. And he has now lifted the continental trophy more times than anyone, player and/or coach, having surpassed the seven won by Dino Meneghin. Don't expect Obradovic to run out of motivation, either. At age 51, he has yet to repeat as a Euroleague champion with the same team, despite having won five titles in the last 11 seasons with Panathinaikos, which now stands just two trophies from tying Real Madrid for the continental record. "My desire is to see Panathinaikos to become the best team ever in Europe," Obradovic told "We have tied CSKA Moscow now with six titles. We only have Real Madrid ahead of us. So that's a great goal to shoot for." more
by: Javier Gancedo,
May 4, 2011
Marko Jaric - Montepaschi Siena
Few players get to chance win Euroleague titles a decade apart, but Montepaschi Siena veteran Marko Jaric will try just that at the 2011 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four in Barcelona this weekend. Since signing with Siena at midseason, the 32-year-old combo guard has adjusted admirably to his new teammates and role, emerging as one of Siena’s steadiest performers at just the right time. Jaric averaged 18 points in Siena's last two victories over Olympiacos, earning the Sportingbet MVP honor for Game 3 of the playoffs. Having already won the Euroleague in 2001 with Virtus Bologna, Jaric now hopes to add to his trophy case by conquering his second Euroleague title in his third Final Four appearance. All his experience tells Jaric that his new team has what it takes to think big when the ball goes up for Siena's semifinal showdown with Panathinaikos at Palau Sant Jordi on Friday. "This is a special team with great players and great chemistry," Jaric told "The result is where we are right now. I’m sure that to be successful, you need that chemistry, and we definitely have it." more
by: Frank Lawlor,
May 3, 2011
Mike Batiste - Panathinaikos
One of the emblematic players on Panathinaikos as it heads into the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four this week is big man Mike Batiste, an All-Euroleague nominee for the second time. Batiste has been a constant in the middle for Panathinaikos since 2003, perfecting the pick-and-roll that has been the engine of many triumphs for the Greens. After having won the Euroleague title twice, but failed to defend the trophy the following season, Batiste knows well how difficult it is to become champion again. Having learned from a personal low point earlier in the season, as his team's looks to capture its third title in five seasons this weekend, Batiste won't lack for motivation. "Playing at a high level of competition brings out the best in every single player," Batiste told "When you come to the biggest stage of all, the Final Four, that brings it out even more. Guys get more motivated. I am more motivated. Hopefully it will carry over into two more wins and I can hold another trophy and be part of something special." more