Unicaja Malaga has been named the winner of the annual One Team Awards for the club's outstanding work in support of its local community during the 2017-18 season. The club was presented with the One Team Gold Award at the climax of the One Team workshop which took place in Vitoria-Gasteiz on Monday and Tuesday, with Olympiacos Piraeus taking the Silver Award and Zalgiris Kaunas receiving the Bronze.
All 40 clubs in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup have been working hard to help vulnerable people in their local communities over the last 12 months as part of the continent-wide social responsibility program One Team, and the awards – which were initiated last year – are designed to champion and celebrate the achievements of the clubs.
The quality and quantity of the activities forced the judges to expand the shortlist of finalists to six teams and to introduce new silver and bronze categories. The shortlisted clubs were Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, Lietkabelis Panevezys, Olympiacos, Unicaja and last year’s winner Zalgiris.
Abi Martin, Director of CSR & Development Projects for Euroleague Basketball, said: "Congratulations to all the clubs because the list of winners could have really been a lot longer, as the quality of the delivery has improved extraordinarily under the 'we are all one team' banner. Nonetheless, the judges appreciated that the three winning clubs provided something special on top of the main criteria delivered by every club."
Jose Carlos Gaspar, Unicaja’s One Team Manager, was honored to receive the award on behalf of the club. "Being recognized by Euroleague Basketball as the best club in Europe in corporate social responsibility makes us tremendously proud," he said. "We want to express our gratitude to all the people, companies and institutions who made it possible, especially to Fundacion Unicaja and the NGOs who work not only on this project but all year round to help those who need it most: Proyecto Hombre, the Marcelino Champagnat Foundation and Malaga Acoge. It has been a team effort.
"Thanks also to Euroleague Basketball for the creation and development of One Team, which is using basketball as a vehicle for social inclusion for so many people in need across Europe. This recognition is another incentive for us to continue with even more strength along the path of social connection with our city and province."
Penny Giovanovits, Olympiacos Piraeus One Team Manager, was also proud to have been recognized with the silver award. "I am so excited that my team and Euroleague Basketball gives me the opportunity to participate in such a big workshop every year, and this year I’m very honored to receive this award on behalf of Olympiacos. We believe the One Team Awards idea is very smart as it pushes all the teams to work even harder."
Akvile Dagilyte, One Team Manager for last season’s winner Zalgiris Kaunas, added: “One Team is not about winning awards, it’s about the very important impact clubs are making in their communities. But it’s a great honor to be among the clubs making the biggest impact and achieving the best results for the second year in a row. We couldn’t do it without our sponsor Ramirent Baltic, who boosted our program to the next level. I believe sharing the best practices in this annual workshop will inspire other clubs to work even harder with their communities, although they are already doing a great job."
The awards ceremony came at the end of a two-day One Team workshop in 2019 Final Four host city Vitoria-Gasteiz, where clubs were able to exchange ideas and share best practices about an initiative which underpins Euroleague Basketball’s serious commitment to its communities.
Since its founding in 2012, the One Team program – supported by Turkish Airlines as Founding Patron and Special Olympics as Proud Partner – has already helped more than 16,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.