An illustrious list of former greats were back on the floor on Friday morning as the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague FanZone hosted a One Team Legends Session and Exhibition Game.
Joe Arlauckas, Nikola Vujcic, Ibrahim Kutluay, Theo Papaloukas, Mirsad Turkcan, Patrick Femerling, Matjaz Smodis, Michalis Kakiouzis and Ermal Kuqo all played at the special event held at the Marmara Forum, the venue of this year's FanZone. Also in attendance were Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO, as well as Mehmet Macun, representing the Turkish Airlines corporate social responsibility department.
The former players joined in with a fun session alongside young One Team participants from Istanbul-based EuroLeague clubs Anadolu Efes, Darrusafaka Dogus and Galatasaray Odeabank, with the ex-professionals again using basketball as a powerful tool to improve the lives of children.
Papaloukas, a EuroLeague Basketball Legend who won two titles with CSKA Moscow in 2006 and 2008, enjoyed the opportunity to showcase the ongoing success of the One Team program.
"For years, I've been with the program and at these events," Papaloukas said. "Its growth is nice, but the smiles of the children are the most important.
"The wind did not help us execute our shots, but it was fun. It is always great to play alongside these children. You get to steal some energy from them."
One Team is Euroleague Basketball’s social responsibility program, which uses basketball as a tool to integrate communities in cities all over Europe. The initiative has reached more than 12,000 people since its foundation in 2012 and is being showcased with a series of events at this week's Final Four.
Femerling, a Euroleague Basketball Ambassador and former continental champion with Barcelona in 2003, believed the One Team session and exhibition game was the perfect way to demonstrate the power of basketball.
"It was just fun, kids enjoyed it and we enjoyed this event, but it was particularly special seeing kids smiling," Femerling said. "Having a few disabled children here totally integrated in the group was really great. That's what the One Team program is all about. If we can live it and show it to people in this great venue, there is nothing better."