Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz starts the 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague with a new head coach, Velimir Perasovic, and ready to live up to its "Baskonia Character" motto. Laboral comes off a rollercoaster season in which it had 19 different players on its roster – and as many as 24 in the Spanish League. Laboral bounced back from a 2-6 regular season start to reach the Top 16 and kept its playoffs chances alive until the final game, in which a loss against Unicaja Malaga ended its chances to go further. Laboral missed the Copa del Rey tournament for the first time since 1997 and reached the Spanish League playoffs, but Unicaja stood in its way in the quarterfinals. Saski Baskonia was founded in 1959 and started playing in Spain's first division in the 1970s. The club's first trophy did not come until 1995, when Perasovic led the team to the Spanish Copa del Rey. Vitoria also reached the Saporta Cup finals in 1994 and 1995 and finally lifted that trophy in 1996 after downing PAOK Thessaloniki 88-81 behind 31 points from Ramon Rivas. The club, then called Tau Ceramica, reached its first Spanish League finals in 1998 and added a second Copa del Rey title in 1999. The turn of the century led to instant success in the newborn Euroleague. Elmer Bennett and Victor Alexander led Tau to the 2000-01 Euroleague playoff finals before losing to Kinder Bologna in a do-or-die Game 5. In 2002, with Dejan Tomasevic as its new superstar, Tau won the Copa del Rey and its first Spanish League title. Luis Scola led Tau to two more Copa del Rey titles in 2004 and 2006 and the team did very well in the Euroleague too. Tau reached the Final Four for four consecutive seasons, from 2005 through 2008. In 2005, Tau upset favored host CSKA Moscow in the semifinals, but couldn't overcome defending champ Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv in the championship game. It proved to be the team’s last Euroleague final, as Maccabi, Panathinaikos and CSKA stopped Tau in the semifinals from 2006 to 2008. The club bounced back to win its second Spanish League title in 2008 by downing Barcelona in the finals behind an outstanding Pete Mickeal. Tau added another Copa del Rey in 2009 before changing its name to Caja Laboral – which became Laboral Kutxa late in the 2012-13 season. In 2010, Laboral conquered a third Spanish League title by sweeping Barcelona on a memorable series-winning three-point play by Fernando San Emeterio. There have not been any more titles since, but the fact that Fernando Buesa Arena was expanded to 15,504 seats and the many initiatives the club continues to put into practice show that Laboral is always moving forward. Euroleague playoffs appearances in 2011 and 2013 and 13 Top 16 appearances in 14 years prove its strength. Expect Laboral to be ready to fight for lofty goals in the 2015-16 season.
2014-15 Results: Euroleague: Top 16; Spanish League: quartefinals.