The Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy, awarded annually to the Euroleague player with the most points averaged over a minimum number of games not including the Final Four, has been won by Igor Rakocevic of Tau Ceramica. Rakocevic, having already been the Euroleague's top scorer in 2007, becomes the first player to win the Ford Trophy twice. Rakocevic became the Ford Trophy winner due to his scoring average of 17.95 points over a total of 20 games. His was the highest full-season average by a Euroleague player in three seasons. Rakocevic was the only player to average 20 points in the 10-game regular season. He scored in double digits in 19 of his 21 Euroleague games this season. Rakocevic boosted his scoring average this season by setting a Euroleague record for consecutive free throws made, with 58 in a row, 10 more than the previous best. At the end of the season, Rakocevic ranked third in third in scoring average this decade among all players with 100 or more Euroleague games. What's more, his career points-per-minute rate is now .57, better than anyone who has played more than 60 Euroleague games since 2000.
January MVP: Igor Rakocevic, Tau Ceramica
Interview: Igor Rakocevic, Tau Ceramica
From the third week of the regular season onward, Rakocevic was the top overall scorer in the competition. Besides finishing the regular season first, he would go on to rank eighth among the Top 16's best scorers (15.8 ppg.) and fourth in playoffs (16.4 ppg.). Terrell McIntyre of Montepaschi Siena was second in the top scoring race (17.26 ppg.), David Logan of Asseco Prokom third (16.87 ppg.), Juan Carlos Navarro of Regal FC Barcelona fourth (14.84 ppg.) and Rimantas Kaukenas of Montepaschi Siena fifth (14.78 ppg.). Rakocevic set his personal-high scoring mark of 31 points against Lottomatica Roma during the regular season, the same phase in which he broke 24-point barrier three more times, against Fenerbahce Ulker and Alba Berlin, twice.
Rakocevic follows Marc Salyers of Chorale Roanne, Drew Nicholas of Benetton Treviso and the trophy's first winner, Charles Smith of Scavolini Pesaro, to become the fourth player to win the award in five years. Alphonso Ford died of leukemia in September 2004 after a career in which he was the competition's top scorer twice, in 2000-01 and 2001-02, both seasons with Olympiacos. He subsequently led Montepaschi Siena in scoring as it reached the 2003 Final Four in its debut Euroleague season. The Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy is the first in a series of Euroleague end-of-season honors. Other to be announced shortly include: the Euroleague Rising Star Trophy for players under 22, the Euroleague Best Defender Trophy, the All-Euroleague first and second team, and the Euroleague MVP, the last two to be revealed at the Euroleague Basketball Awards Ceremony on May 3 during the Final Four in Madrid. The Aleksander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy and the Euroleague Club Executive of the Year are post-season awards.
His second Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy is another highlight in Rakocevic's outstanding career. Rakocevic, who recently turned 31 years old, is also set to become the Spanish League top scorer this season. He has always been an all-around scorer, with unlimited range and superb one-on-one skills, since his early days at Crvena Zvezda, winning the Yugoslavian League title in 1998. Rakocevic moved to Buducnost in 2001, averaging 14 points in his first Euroleague season while helping his team win the Yugoslavian League and Cup titles. Rakocevic also filled the baskets with his national team, winning consecutive gold medals with Yugoslavia at EuroBasket 2001 and the 2002 FIBA World Championships. After a brief stop in the NBA with Minnesota, Rakocevic returned to Europe with Crvena Zvezda. There, he became the 2003-04 Adriatic League top scorer (23.2 ppg.) and helped Zvezda to win the Serbia and Montenegro Cup in epic fashion, surviving several overtimes. Rakocevic moved to Pamesa Valencia and became the Spanish League second top scorer (21 ppg.) while also leading the team to the ULEB Cup semifinals. He joined Real Madrid in summer 2005, for one season, and is now in his third season with Tau. Not only he won the Ford Trophy twice with his club, but has won a Spanish League, a Spanish King's Cup and three Spanish Supercup titles since he moved to Vitoria in summer 2006, as well as taking part in the 2007 and 2008 Euroleague Final Fours. Rakocevic was named to the all-Euroleague second team in 2006-07, the same year in which he made 66 three-point shots, the third-most in a season this decade. On the Euroleague career records list, Rakocevic moved into 10th place this season with 223 three-pointers made for the decade.