In the final episode of the mini interview series “The Lost Tapes – Mundobasket Edition,” powered by Stoiximan, EuroLeague legends, longtime teammates and friends Vassilis Spanoulis and Nikos Zisis take center stage to talk to Vassilis Skountis about their special bond that started during their teenage years and led to numerous individual and team successes at all levels in another fascinating flashback that you don’t want to miss!
Watch the full interview here:
Vassilis Spanoulis spent the majority of his playing career in the Greek Basket League, winning four Greek League titles as a member of Panathinaikos Athens, and three Greek titles as a member of Olympiacos Piraeus. He also won three EuroLeague titles, one with the former club (2009), and two consecutively (2012 and 2013) with the latter. In 2022, he was named a EuroLeague Legend while he was also inducted into the Greek Basket League Hall of Fame in 2022. During his pro playing career, Spanoulis played as a point guard-shooting guard, and was nicknamed Kill Bill, V-Span, Greek Lightning, and MVP (“Most Vassilis Player”). He was the Balkan Athlete of the Year in 2009, the All-Europe Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013 the International Sports Prize’s World Athlete of the Year in 2013, and the EuroLeague MVP the same year. He earned a record eight All-EuroLeague Team selections and was voted the EuroLeague’s 2010–2020 Player of the Decade while he is also the EuroLeague’s all-time career leader in total points scored!
He first played pro club basketball with Gymnastikos S. Larissas, and enjoyed a highly successful career start as his skill-set earned him a transfer to Athens and Maroussi, where he won the Greek Basket League’s Best Young Player award for the 2002–03 season. Following an impressive 2004–05 season, during which he helped lead Maroussi to the Greek Basket League’s finals and the 2005 EuroCup quarterfinals, he moved to Panathinaikos, where he became one of European basketball’s major stars. In the 2005–06 EuroLeague season, Spanoulis made his debut in impressive fashion, earning his first All-EuroLeague Team selection as a rookie in the competition. After a stint in the NBA with the Houston Rockets during the 2006–07 season, he returned to Panathinaikos and helped lead them to a EuroLeague title in 2009, being voted the EuroLeague Final Four MVP in the process. Spanoulis’ transfer to Olympiacos from Panathinaikos in the summer of 2010 marked a new step in his career, given Olympiacos’ rivalry with Panathinaikos. Within a young and rebuilding Olympiacos team, Spanoulis not only led the club to a EuroLeague title run in 2012, but he also went on to lead
the team to a historical EuroLeague championship repeat in 2013. In the process, he gained another two EuroLeague Final Four MVP awards, thus joining Toni Kukoč as the only players in the history of European basketball to achieve that distinction on three occasions. Under his leadership, Olympiacos reached another two EuroLeague Finals, in 2015 and 2017. In 2017, European basketball historian Vladimir Stanković, named Spanoulis the “Most Clutch Player in EuroLeague History, while in 2020, Spanoulis was named the “Best EuroLeague Player of The 2010s Decade” by the readers of Eurohoops.net. Spanoulis played an instrumental role on the gold medal win of the Greece men’s national basketball team at 2005 EuroBasket and he was one of the main stars of Greece’s 2006 FIBA World Cup silver medal team, scoring 22 points in the memorable victory over Team USA (101–95), in the tournament’s semifinals.
It was however, Greece’s bronze medal at the 2009 EuroBasket, that emphasized Spanoulis’ leadership within an injury-plagued Greece national team, and consequently earned him an All-EuroBasket Team honor. In 2020, Spanoulis was voted one of the 25 Best Players in Summer Olympics history, since the inclusion of NBA players in 1992, and to the EuroBasket 2000–2020 Dream Team, the 5 Best Players of the FIBA EuroBasket, since the year 2000!
His many accolades include the following:
- FIBA Intercontinental Cup champion (2013)
- FIBA Intercontinental Cup MVP (2013)
- International Sports Prize’s World Athlete of the Year (2013)
- 2× All-Europe Player of the Year (2012, 2013)
- 2× All-Europe Point Guard of the Year (2012, 2013)
- 3× EuroLeague champion (2009, 2012, 2013) Triple Crown winner (2007) EuroLeague MVP (2013)
- 3× EuroLeague Final Four MVP (2009, 2012, 2013)
- 3× EuroLeague Final Four Top Scorer (2009, 2012, 2013)
- EuroLeague Finals Top Scorer (2013)
- 8× All-EuroLeague Team (2006, 2009, 2011–2015, 2018)
- 2× EuroLeague total points leader (2012, 2013)
- 2× EuroLeague total assists leader (2013, 2017)
- EuroLeague’s Best Captain (2018)
- EuroLeague 2010–20 All-Decade Team (2020)
- EuroLeague 2010–20 Player of the Decade (2020)
- 3× All-EuroLeague Guard of the Year (2012, 2013, 2015)
- EuroLeague all-time leading scorer
- EuroLeague Hall of Fame (2022)
- FIBA EuroStar (2007)
- Balkan Athlete of the Year (2009)
- 7× GBL champion (2006, 2008–2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)
- 4× GBL Most Valuable Player (2006, 2009, 2012, 2016)
- 4× GBL Finals MVP (2006, 2008, 2015, 2016)
- GBL Top Scorer (2005)
- 4× GBL assists leader (2005, 2008, 2012, 2013)
- 10× All-GBL Team (2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011–2013, 2015–2017)
- 10× GBL All-Star (2005, 2006, 2008–2011, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019)
- GBL Best Young Player (2003)
- GBL Most Improved Player (2004)
- 2× GBL Most Popular Player (2015, 2017)
- 3× All-GBL Guard of the Year (2009, 2012, 2016)
- 4× GBL Domestic Player of the Year (2006, 2009, 2013, 2016)
- 4× Greek Cup winner (2006, 2008, 2009, 2011)
- Greek Cup Finals Top Scorer (2018)
- Professional Greek League all-time leading scorer
- Professional Greek League all-time leader in assists
- GBL Hall of Fame (2022)
- All-EuroBasket Team (2009)
- EuroBasket Dream Team (2020)
With the Greek National Team:
- EuroBasket 2005: Gold Medal
- 2006 FIBA World Championship: Silver Medal
- 2008 FIBA World OQT: Gold Medal
- 9× Acropolis Tournament champion (2004–2010, 2013, 2015)
- 2× Acropolis Tournament MVP (2007, 2009)
- Panhellenic Youth Championship Champion (1999)
- Panhellenic Youth Championship Top Scorer (1999)
- Panhellenic Youth Championship MVP (1999)
Nikos Zisis meanwhile started his basketball playing career playing with the junior teams of YMCA Thessaloniki, when in 2000, at the age of just 17, he moved to Athens and to Greek League powerhouse AEK B.C. where he began his journey at the professional level. In Athens, he had the chance to be coached by legendary Serbian coach Dusan Ivkovic and won the Greek Cup in 2001 and the Greek League championship in 2002, being awarded the Greek League Best Young Player award in 2002. He then moved to the Italian League and Benetton Treviso where he won the Italian Super Cup and Italian League championship in 2006 and the Italian Cup in 2007 before signing a 3-year contract with Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow where he won the EuroLeague at the 2008 EuroLeague Final Four.
He returned to Italy in 2009 in order to play for Montepaschi Siena, winning three consecutive domestic league titles, and then moved on to Spanish League club Bilbao and Russian VTB United League club UNICS Kazan where he won the league cup. In 2014, Zelimir Obradovic recruited him to the Turkish League club Fenerbahçe Ülker in a year where the combo guard played 24.4 minutes per game and the team advanced to the 2015 EuroLeague Final Four, the first time in the team’s history. Next year, Zisis signed with the German Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) club Brose Bamberg where he won two German BBL League championships (2016, 2017), playing next to Bulls center Daniel Theis and two German Cups (2017, 2019). In the 2019 German Cup Final, Zisis hit the game-winner, with 2.4 seconds left in the game, to give Bamberg an 83–82 win over Alba Berlin.
He returned to Spain and Joventut Badalona of la Liga ACB club before joining AEK B.C. again in 2020 and winning the Greek Cup that same year. In 310 EuroLeague career games with AEK, Benetton, CSKA, Siena, Fenerbahce, UNICS and Bamberg, Zisis scored 2,140 points (6.9 per game) and 885 assists (2.9 per game), while he amassed 430 points (8.3 per game) and 178 assists (3.4 assists per game) over three EuroCup seasons with Bilbao, UNICS and Joventut. He owns the EuroLeague record for consecutive games played with 209. A member of Greece’s junior national teams, Zisis won the silver medal at the 1999 FIBA U-16 European Championship, where he led the tournament in scoring, the bronze medal at the 2000 FIBA U-18 European Championship, the silver medal at the 2001 Tunis Mediterranean Games and the gold medal at the 2002 FIBA U-20 European Championship, where he was also named the tournament’s MVP.
As a member of the senior men’s Greek national basketball team, Zisis won the gold medal at the 2005 EuroBasket, leading the team in scoring with 10.6 points per game and being named the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year. At the end of the semifinal game against the French national basketball team, Zisis drove the length of the court, drove into the middle of the floor, drew a double team, and then dished the ball out to Dimitris Diamantidis, who hit a game-winning 3 pointer.
The next year, at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, Zisis hit a game winning 3-point shot at the end of the game against the Australian national basketball team, to give Greece a 72–69 victory. Even though he suffered a severe facial injury that forced him to sit out for the remaining tournament, the team was still able to win the silver medal (including an improbable upset victory over Team USA in the semifinals) during the World Championship tournament.
Zisis also competed with Greece at the 2004 Summer Olympics, where Greece finished in 5th place in the world, and at the 2008 Summer Olympics, where Greece also finished in 5th place in the world. He also played at the 2009 EuroBasket, where he won a bronze medal, the 2010 FIBA World Championship, the 2011 EuroBasket, the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the 2013 EuroBasket, the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and the 2015 EuroBasket. In 2019, the Hellenic Basketball Federation honored Zisis, in recognition of his contributions to the senior Greek national basketball team, with which he had 189 caps (games played).
“The Lost Tapes – Mundobasket Edition” are over but stay tuned for more episodes of “The Show” coming soon…!
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