Final Four head coach: Velimir Perasovic, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria-Gasteiz

Apr 29, 2016 by Print
Final Four head coach: Velimir Perasovic, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria-Gasteiz

Having won three of them as a player, Velimir Perasovic is a man who knows something about lifting Euroleague titles. Perasovic returned this season for a second stint at Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz and continues to add to his coaching success. The games in Berlin represent Perasovic's second Final Four as a head coach, exactly one decade after guiding this same club – known then as Tau Ceramica – to the second of its four consecutive Final Four appearances.

Now a coach who preaches defense, Perasovic had an impressive playing career, first and foremost for his ability to score. After winning three consecutive continental titles from 1989 through 1991 with Jugoplastika Split of his native Croatia, he spent more than a decade playing in Spain, where to this day he is considered among the best scorers in the history of the domestic league. On the national team scene, he was a world and European champion with Yugoslavia in 1990 and 1991, respectively, and an Olympic silver medalist with Croatia in 1992.

Perasovic began coaching at Split in 2003, but his first major success on the sidelines was guiding Tau to the 2006 Final Four. He led the team toward another Final Four in 2007, but a heart condition forced Perasovic to step down in the midst of a great campaign. He returned to the bench a year later and in following seasons coached Estudiantes Madrid, Cibona Zagreb and Anadolu Efes Istanbul before taking over Valencia Basket for four years. During that span, he guided Valencia to the Eurocup title in 2014.

Perasovic’s relationship with Vitoria-Gasteiz goes beyond coaching. He also played four years in the city and was a key player on the team that gave the club its only European trophy, the Saporta Cup, in 1996. As a coach, in addition to his Final Four experience, Perasovic led Tau to the Spanish Cup title and now gets his second chance to gain club immortality, and in the process become the first person to win the two major European trophies as both a player and a head coach.