by: Frank Lawlor,
August 25, 2014
Paulius Motiejunas, General Manager, Zalgiris Kaunas
For at least one Turkish Airlines Euroleague club, there is never an off-season anymore. Since the opening of Zalgirio Arena in 2011, the club of the same name has dedicated itself with double devotion to making a name for its city even when no basketballs are bouncing. While Zalgiris Kaunas remains the flagship Euroleague team in a basketball-crazy country, it also thrives as the managing entity of a state-of-the-art arena at the center of all cultural and entertainment life in Lithuania's second-largest city. Whether it's concerts by world-famous artists, exhibitions, ballet, musical theatre or any number of entertainment events, Zalgiris never stops because its arena does not either. Its dual role as basketball club and arena manager is a unique one that shows how Euroleague clubs are diversifying to have a strong future, as club general manager and arena director Paulius Motiejunas told "Kaunas is a basketball city and is called the basketball capital of Lithuania. It was so even before the arena built," Motiejunas said. "And now Zalgiris Kaunas and Zalgirio Arena have become a double power that is the postcard of Kaunas, the main component of the city's image. The people of Kaunas are very proud of it." more
by: Javier Gancedo,
May 30, 2014
David Blatt - Maccabi Electra Trophy Photo Shoot - Final Four Milan 2014
Much of Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv's success has been linked to David Blatt for more than a decade. Blatt led Maccabi to a Final Four appearance in 2002 and was the assistant coach and one of the masterminds that allowed the Israeli powerhouse to win the Euroleague title in 2004 in spectacular fashion. After stops in St. Petersburg, Treviso, Istanbul, Moscow and Thessaloniki, as well as an outstanding run with the Russian national team – highlighted by the EuroBasket 2007 title, Blatt returned to Maccabi in the summer of 2010. He led Maccabi to the Euroleague title game in 2011 and climbed that extra step this season, lifting the trophy as head coach 10 years after doing that as Pini Gershon's assistant. Blatt put together a team with great character and spirit, which used two great comebacks at Mediolanum Forum – in Game 1 of the playoffs against EA7 Emporio Armani Milan and in the semifinals against CSKA Moscow – to gain the required momentum to knock off mighty Real Madrid in the championship game. When it comes to Maccabi, due to its great tradition, it is not easy to see your name in golden letters, but Blatt will go down in history as one of its best bosses – and at age 55, he still has plenty of time to keep winning. Blatt knows he and his team made thousands of Maccabi fans happy and cannot feel better about it, as he told us in this interview. "I feel great, but the best part of it is sharing the joy of the title with the team and also knowing that this team has now become part of Euroleague history and Maccabi history and tradition," Coach Blatt told That is probably the biggest joy. We will be remembered. That's one of the main reasons why we are in this thing." more
by: Javier Gancedo,
May 22, 2014
Tyrese Rice MVP - Maccabi Electra celebrates - Final Four Milan 2014
Few Turkish Airlines Euroleague fans considered Tyrese Rice one of the stars of the competition barely one week ago. Now, after his great exhibition in Milan, leading Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv to its first Euroleague title since 2005 and earning Final Four bwin MVP honors, few doubt his status as Euroleague superstar. Rice had to adjust to a new role in his Euroleague debut season after playing for Panionios Athens in Greece, Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania and FC Bayern Munich in Germany before joining Maccabi. His numbers went up throughout the year, and so did his playing time. His great performance in Game 1 of the playoffs, leading his team's unbelievable comeback, was a first hint of what was coming. Then, in his first Final Four game in Milan, Rice had 13 points against CSKA in the semifinal, including the go-ahead, game-winning shot to take Maccabi to the final in come-from-behind fashion. Once in the championship game, Rice scored 21 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, allowing Maccabi to conquer the title. Rice gives a lot of credit to Maccabi fans for their incredible season-long support, especially at the Final Four. "It is just so crazy to have that kind of support night in and night out. And having so many Maccabi fans in the Final Four made the difference," Rice told "They are amazing." more
by: Frank Lawlor,
May 8, 2014
Perhaps no player improved and evolved more within this Turkish Airlines Euroleague season than Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv's explosive forward-turned-center Alex Tyus. In his first season with Maccabi after having made his Euroleague debut a year ago with Cantu, Tyus played moderate minutes in the early part of the season. However, he finished the campaign as arguably the hottest player around, leading the playoffs in both two-points shooting and blocked shots as he was chosen bwin MVP for April. An opportunity for Tyus came with an injury to Maccabi’s All-Euroleague center Shawn James. The 26-year old grabbed his chance, bringing Maccabi a surge of energy and athleticism in the paint. His growth jumped out during Maccabi’s three-game playoff push late in the Top 16, during which he posted 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and an average performance index rating of 23.3. He continued strong showing in the playoffs with 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and an 18.3 PIR over four games as maccabi eliminated EA7 Emporio Armani Milan and become the only Final Four team that didn't enjoy home-court advantage in the playoffs. "I got a chance to prove myself, especially in the Top 16 and the playoff series," Tyus said. "I am thankful for the opportunity and feel I was ready for it pretty much the entire season." more

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