Turkish Airlines Euroleague
May 24, 2013
bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge
Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
CHAMPS CHOOSE: Johnny Rogers, Panathinaikos
MORE CHAMPS CHOICES:
Gur Shelef, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Rodrigo de la Fuente, FC Barcelona
Alessandro Abbio, Virtus Bologna
Zakhar Pashutin, CSKA Moscow
Johnny Rogers, Panathinaikos
Among all the memorable Euroleague title games over the last decade, a Panathinaikos team full of veterans stands tall for having posted the biggest comeback victory in a final to stage the only trophy ceremony on an opponent's home floor. The dean among all those veterans was Johnny Rogers, then 38 years old, who scored all 7 of his points in the fourth quarter as Panathinaikos pulled away to an 83-89 victory over defending champion Kinder Bologna, which had enjoyed a 14-point, second-quarter lead. It was Rogers's second Euroleague title in three seasons with Panathinaikos after he had already tried with two other teams, Phillips Milan and Olympiacos, in the 1990s. Rogers finished his playing career a couple seasons later and worked as a general manager and collaborator with Euroleague.net and Euroleague.TV, making him an expert from all perspectives when it comes to choosing the Euroleague All-Decade Team.
First of all, with your playing days over, do you follow Euroleague as a fan?
"I am a big fan of the Euroleague. I think it's the best, most interesting basketball to watch, anywhere, for me. Every game, every minute is important, especially once you get to the Top 16 stage, like now. You see team basketball as well as great players, the best in Europe. It has so much to offer that I think the Euroleague is at the start of something big. It's a product that sells itself. The more exposure it gets outside Europe, the more people will want to see it."
What kind of criteria do you apply to choosing an all-decade team like this?
"The criteria are to be a top player and a leader and to have won it all. So for my personal list, I prefer guys who actually won the title, because that is a major part of being the best."
What is your own biggest Euroleague memory thinking back on the last decade?
"There have been so many great games. The Panathinaikos-CSKA final in Athens in 2007, when everyone expected a slow, tough defensive battle, ended up 93-91 and was one of the great final games I have ever seen. On a personal level, I'll never forget us coming back in 2002 from a big deficit against a Bologna team with several incredible young players, playing on their court. Those memories last a long time."