A familiar face is heading to his 18th Final Four appearance in EuroLeague history. Fenerbahce head coach Željko Obradović is determined to add a whopping 10th European title to his illustrious career spread across six different teams.
Born in former Yugoslavia, Obradović enjoyed a rather successful career as a player. The tricky point guard played a key role in winning the league with Partizan Belgrade in 1987, plus a gold medal with his national team at the FIBA World Cup three years later.
It is precisely at Partizan where coach Željko started his managerial career in the 1991-92 season. And what a start it was, bringing a European Champion trophy to Belgrade in his first season. His attacking approach is revolutionary to basketball on the continent. Obradović focuses on using corners and back passes to set up killer pick-and-rolls that carve defenses wide open.
Among the admirers of his basketball style is famous NBA coach Gregg Popovich who credits a large part of his success to his colleague’s influence. The San Antonio Spurs head coach openly admits to ‘stealing plays’ and positioning techniques from the Serbian.
His next coaching destination was Badalona in Spain, where coincidentally Partizan played their European matches due to the war in Yugoslavia. The Serbian guides Joventut to European glory in 1994, beating his former club Partizan in the final. The head coach is quickly snapped up by Spanish giants Real Madrid the following season. Željko Obradović doesn’t disappoint. The Spanish capital welcomes the EuroLeague title a year later. An achievement that sees Obradović cement his reputation as the best coach on the continent.
Success follows the Serbian mastermind everywhere he goes. He wins the biggest club prize in European basketball with three more clubs: Benetton, Panathinaikos and Fenerbahce.
It would be impossible to list all his domestic titles without taking up several pages. It will be easier just to say that Obradović enjoys cult status across Europe.
Having already reached legendary status, coach Obradović will be looking to put last year’s disappointment in the final against Real Madrid behind him and become victorious for a record 10th time
This regular season his team are flying high at the top of the EuroLeague. Although there is still a small matter of the playoffs, Željko Obradović and his Fenerbahce side are favourites to appear at yet another Final Four and favourites to win the title.
Would you bet against Mr. EuroLeague?