Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Founded in 1959, Baskonia first started playing in Spain’s top division in the 1970s. The club’s first trophy did not arrive until 1995, when Velimir Perasovic inspired the club to victory in the Spanish Copa del Rey. That era marked the elevation of the club into the elite, as Baskonia reached the Saporta Cup finals in 1994 and 1995 before finally lifting that trophy in 1996 after downing PAOK Thessaloniki behind 31 points from Ramon Rivas. The club, then called Tau Ceramica, reached its first Spanish League finals in 1998 and added a second Copa del Rey in 1999. The turn of the century led to instant success in the EuroLeague, as Elmer Bennett and Victor Alexander led the team to the 2001 EuroLeague Finals before losing to Kinder Bologna in a do-or-die Game 5. In 2002, with Dejan Tomasevic as its new star, Tau won the Copa del Rey and its first Spanish League championship. Luis Scola inspired Copa del Rey triumphs in 2004 and 2006, and the team continued to challenge in the EuroLeague, reaching the Final Four in four consecutive seasons. In 2005, Baskonia upset favored host CSKA Moscow in the semifinals, but it was unable to overcome defending champ Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv in the Championship Game. That proved to be the last EuroLeague title game that Baskonia has reached, but the team remained successful domestically by winning Spanish League titles in 2008 and 2010, with Pete Mickeal and Fernando San Emeterio respectively starring in those respective triumphs. The expansion of the Fernando Buesa Arena to 15,504 seats was another indication that Baskonia is always moving forward, and an exciting team containing future stars Mike James, Toko Shengelia and Davis Bertans returned to the EuroLeague Final Four in 2016, yet it suffered a thrilling overtime loss to Fenerbahce Istanbul. Three consecutive EuroLeague playoff appearances followed, before a decade-long wait for silverware was ended in 2020 with the club’s fourth Spanish League triumph. Baskonia has not reached the EuroLeague playoffs since 2018-19, but in the 2022 offseason, it added some first-year EuroLeague players that it hopes will develop and inspire the team to new glories, such as Markus Howard, Darius Thompson and Maik Kotsar. As it looks towards the future, the club and an entire basketball city will always be ready to live up to the battling traditions of the ‘Baskonia Character’ motto.