Pre-draw profile: FC Barcelona Regal

Dec 27, 2011 by Print
Erazem Lorbek - FC Barcelona Regal
Erazem Lorbek
FC Barcelona RegalEuroleague superpower F.C. Barcelona Regal is among a handful of teams that can automatically be counted as a title contender before any season starts. The 2010 Euroleague champion had its bid to repeat stopped in the playoffs by eventual champ Panathinaikos, but Barcelona rebounded to finish the domestic season with the Spanish League and King’s Cup double. The ongoing 2010-11 season now marks the opportunity for Barca to keep adding to its stuffed trophy case, which now boasts nearly 40 domestic honors and six European titles. The club began its haul in the 1940s, a decade that saw it lift the Spanish King’s Cup five times. Barcelona’s next era of greatness came in the 1980s. With Aíto García Reneses on the sidelines and guiding a group of stars that included stars Nacho Solozabal, Chicho Sibilio, Juan Antonio "Epi" San Epifanio, Audie Norris, Barcelona reached the 1984 Euroleague final before falling to Roma and then won the Saporta Cup in both 1985 and 1986 plus the Korac Cup the following season. Despite its successes, Barcelona still longed for Euroleague glory and continued knocking at the door. The club made it to the Euroleague Final Four in three successive seasons between 1989 and 1991, but lost to eventual champion Split each time – including twice in the title game. Barca returned three more times to the Final Four after that in the 1990s alone, but came up short each time. In 1999 Barcelona added a second Korac Cup to its collection, but 2000 brought with it more Final Four disappointment. The watershed moment in Barcelona came three years later, with the city hosting the Final Four at Palau Sant Jordi. In front of nearly 17,000 fans, the great Dejan Bodiroga teamed with Gregor Fucka, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Juan Carlos Navarro and head coach Svetislav Pesic to carry Barca past Benetton Treviso for its first Euroleague crown. Barcelona returned to the Final Four again in 2006, losing to eventual champion CSKA Moscow in the semifinals, and won the Spanish King's Cup title in 2007. In 2008-09, with Xavi Pascual in his first full season as head coach, Barcelona won yet another Spanish League title and returned to the Final Four, but lost again to CSKA. The 2009-10 season was a memorable one for Barcelona and basketball fans in general as the likes of Navarro, Ricky Rubio, Fran Vazquez, Erazem Lorbek and Terence Morris helped make the team among the best Euroleague champions ever with an incredible 20-2 record. With much of that great roster in place, Barcelona was the team to beat last season and seemed destined for another Final Four when it ran off eight consecutive wins starting in the regular season and going into the playoffs. But the champs were forced to surrender their crown to Panathinaikos at the end of a grueling series. Still Barca finished the year as Spanish champion. Barcelona has had a strong start, using its stifling defense to win Group A without much trouble. Barcelona has become almost undestructible in front of its fans and is a well-greased basketball machine ready to keep adding more and more wins - and eventually, just as always, titles.