The leader of a Cinderella story like few others in the competition history, Dusan Alimpijevic of Frutti Extra Bursaspor, has been voted the 7DAYS Eurocup Coach of the Year for the 2021-22 season.
7DAYS EuroCup Coach of the Year: Dusan Alimpijevic, Frutti Extra Bursaspor
Alimpijevic, at 35 the youngest coach to win the award, guided Bursaspor all the way to the EuroCup Finals in his first full season in the competition. He engineered a rarely seen in-season turnaround that saw his team win just four of its first 13 games before going on a run of 8-1 that included three postseason road wins in a span of just 14 days.
The Coach of the Year honor is among several awards that recognize the finest EuroCup participants for their efforts throughout the season. Alimpijevic's fellow head coaches were the voters for the award. The Rising Star Trophy, also voted by the head coaches, will be announced next. The All-7DAYS EuroCup teams and the season's MVP, for which fans, team captains and media also voted, will be announced before the 7DAYS EuroCup Final on May 11 in Bologna, Italy.
Alimpijevic started his coaching career at age 22, working as an assistant in Novi Sad and Vojvodina in his native Serbia. While in Vojvodina, he survived the fatal crash of a team bus in 2010 that left his head coach and one player dead while Alimpijevic was hospitalized for more than a month. He would make his head-coaching debut with Vojvodina and head the bench of Spartak Subotica, too, before joining FMP Zeleznik in 2016. His breakthrough came in the 2017-18 season when as a 31-year old he led Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade to an 11-19 record in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and guided the club to the Adriatic League finals. Since then, Alimpijevic coached Avtodor Saratov in Russia before taking over at Bursaspor in November 2020 and winning three of the team's last four games in the 2020-21 EuroCup season.
This season, Bursaspor opened with a 2-1 record but dropped eight of its next 10 games and found itself outside of the playoff picture in Group B. A mid-March three-game homestand turned things around for Alimpijevic and Bursaspor. Within eight days, victories over rival playoff contenders Mincidelice JL Bourg en Bresse and Umana Reyer Venice preceded one against Valencia Basket, catapulting Bursaspor into the playoffs from seventh place. After winning four of its last five regular-season games, Bursaspor continued its magical run by surviving a pair of thrillers in the elimination rounds. First came a stunning 95-103 overtime win on the sold-out home court of Partizan NIS Belgrade in the eighthfinals. Then, Bursaspor held off another host at its packed home arena, Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, by 83-85 in the quarterfinals. In the semis, Alimpijevic and Bursaspor continued making history with their third road win in less than two weeks, a 68-85 romp over MoraBanc Andorra that sent the team into the do-or-die EuroCup Final next Wednesday against Virtus Segafredo Bologna.
Alimpijevic is the second EuroCup Coach of the Year from Serbia, joining Sasa Obradovic, who won the honor in 2018 with Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar. Aito Garcia Reneses is the only coach to win the award twice – with Gran Canaria in 2015 and ALBA Berlin in 2019. The other previous winners were Oktay Mahmuti of Benetton Basket in 2009, Ilias Zouros of Panellinios in 2010, Aleksandar Petrovic of Cedevita Zagreb in 2011, Jure Zdovc of Spartak St. Petersburg in 2012, Fotis Katsikaris of Uxue Bilbao Basket in 2013, Andrea Trinchieri of Unics Kazan in 2014, Maurizio Buscaglia of Dolomiti Energia Trento in 2016, Pedro Martinez of Valencia Basket in 2017 and Zvezdan Mitrovic of AS Monaco in 2021.