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Euroleague Qualifying Rounds team profile: Spirou Basket
August 24, 2010
Belgian League champion Spirou Basket has the chance to return to the Euroleague for first time since 2002 through the Qualifying Rounds. Charleroi made a valiant effort last season when it won the opener of the two-game first qualifying round series, but lost the return leg and played in the Eurocup instead. Born from the ashes of Spirou Monceau back in 1989, the team first made it to the Belgian League playoffs in 1992. It began making a name for itself in 1996 when Spirou won the Belgian Cup title, becoming the first club from the Wallone region to lift a trophy. Its first league title came right after that, allowing Spirou to make its Euroleague debut in the 1996-97 season with Ron Ellis as its signature player. Charleroi continued ruling Belgium from 1997 to 1999 to pile up four consecutive league titles and returned to the Euroleague from 2000 to 2002. Its improved efforts and responsibilities in the Euroleague seemed to take away from its strength at home, where no new titles came. Spirou found new balance in 2004, joining the ULEB Cup and returning to the winning trail in Belgium. In 2003-04, Spirou made it to the ULEB Cup elimination rounds and survived a five-game battle with Liege to lift its fifth Belgian League title. Also that season, its home court – the Spiroudome – hosted the ULEB Cup Final for the first time. The ULEB Cup title game would go back to the Spiroudome every season until 2007. Spirou reached the 2005 ULEB Cup quarterfinals and returned to the elimination rounds in 2006, too. Despite a sub par 2006-07 season, Spirou bounced back stronger than ever, returning to the ULEB Cup and sweeping Basket Bree for its seventh Belgian championship in 2008. Spirou kept veteran defensive ace Andre Riddick and Len Matela and also brought back scoring machine Matt Walsh. The club lived up to the expectations, making it to the Eurocup Last 16 and being one win away from reaching the Final Eight. Back home, Spirou won its fourth double in club history, lifting both the Belgian Cup and Belgian League trophies in another season to remember. Spirou could not survive the Euroleague Qualifying Rounds last season, losing against Orleans, and the struggled in the Eurocup, losing all of its regular season games. Things were better in Belgium, as Spirou lifted its third consecutive league trophy, downing Liege in the finals. With great basketball tradition, a solid base of diehard fans and a state-of-the-art arena, Spirou returns to the qualifying rounds focused on having a strong campaign in Europe to establish itself among the very best clubs on the continent.
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