Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv pulled off another marque signing with the addition of former Euroleague MVP and two-time competition champion Theodoros Papaloukas for the coming season. Papaloukas (2.00 meters, 34 years old) has been one of the top players in the Euroleague over the past decade and is the competition’s career leader in assists (907), steals (315) and games played (215). He spent the past three seasons with Olympiacos, with whom he reached the Euroleague Final Four twice. Before that Papaloukas helped CSKA Moscow to six Final Four appearances in as many seasons in Russia. The ultimate sixth man, Papaloukas has carved out a unique role in basketball history as arguably the most successful substitute ever at such a high level in the sport. In Tel Aviv he joins a young backcourt that features three Euroleague rookie guards – Jon Scheyer, Yogev Ohayon and Jordan Farmar – whom he will help mentor as Maccabi targets a race for the title. He also reunites with former Olympiacos and Greek national team mate Sofoklis Schortsanitis.
Papaloukas’s illustrious career has seen him capture countless titles and accolades. He earned Euroleague Final Four MVP honors in 2006, when he led CSKA past Maccabi in the title game in Prague to its first Euroleague title in 35 years. He then became the Euroleague MVP for the 2006-07 season, when CSKA fell just a basket short of a repeat title. He led CSKA past Maccabi for another crown in 2008, when he was also selected among the 50 greatest contributors to European club basketball history. In all Papaloukas was named to the All-Euroleague team four times and he was named to the Euroleague all-decade team too. Papaloukas began his career with Abelokipi and also played for Dafni and Panionios before getting his break with Olympiacos in 2001. He moved to CSKA a year later and spent six years with the Russian giants before returning to Greece for the last three seasons with the Reds. Among his other titles are six Russian League championships, three Russian Cups and three Greek Cups. Papaloukas also helped the Greek national team capture gold at EuroBasket 2005 and the silver medal at the 2006 World Championships.
“I am very excited,” Papaloukas summed up for the Maccabi Electra web site. “I wanted to remain at the top level in Europe and no place is more fitting than Maccabi. It’s always at the top. I love Nokia Arena, which is a great place to play, and to be a part of the home team there is exciting. Maccabi fans understand basketball… I can’t wait to see the crowds and I want everyone to know that I will give my all for Maccabi.”
“We signed on of the best players and the biggest winners in Europe,” Maccabi Electra head coach David Blatt said. “Theo is a leader with tremendous character. He had a great will to come to Israel and help lead Maccabi to be among the top in Europe. Everyone is happy about his arrival. We know from his past and present that he is a great player, the type that makes those around him better.”