There is only one man competing in Berlin with a chance to repeat as Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion. Ioannis Bourousis filled a limited reserve role last season, when he celebrated his first continental crown with Real Madrid, but any energy he saved up has come pouring out this season.
Although he was the team's last signing in preseason, the 32-year-old center has had an outsized impact on his team's success this season. Not only is Bourousis averaging career bests in scoring, assists and rebounding, but Bourousis ranked second in overall performance index rating, too.
It's more than just the measurable stats that Bourousis brings to the table. He boasts valuable leadership ability and experience, as well. Bourousis is the oldest member of the Laboral roster and is enjoying his 14th consecutive Euroleague season, more than any active player, spread among five teams. Now, he is set to compete in his fifth Final Four. He has the versatility to bang inside, stretch the floor with his three-point shooting or run the offense from inside with his crafty passing. And he has embraced his role as a game-changer off the bench.
Bourousis debuted in the Euroleague as a teenager with AEK Athens, but really made a name for himself over five seasons with Olympiacos Piraeus, during which he earned All-Euroleague First team honors in 2009 and reached the Euroleague championship game the following season. Bourousis then spent two years each at EA7 Emporio Armani Milan and Madrid before landing in Vitoria-Gasteiz. As a force for the Greek national team, Bourousis also won EuroBasket gold and bronze medals in 2005 and 2009, respectively.
This season, any questions about Bourousis's status as an impact player were answered early as he set a career-high in scoring with 28 points in an overtime victory over one of his old teams, Olympiacos, in the second week of the regular season. He went on to post 12 double-doubles by the end of the Top 16 as Laboral Kutxa seemed to get better and better. Now, the second-ranked rebounder and shot-blocker all-time in the Euroleague is taking his third team to the Final Four, where the question is, "Can Bourousis be stopped?”