Euroleague: Georgios Bartzokas named top coach

Georgios Bartzokas

In a vote of the Euroleague coaches, Georgios Bartzokas of Olympiacos Piraeus was awarded the 2012-13 Alexander Gomelskiy Trophy as the Euroleague’s coach of the year.

Georgios Bartzokas – Euroleague Bio

Bartzokas became a coach after a playing career cut short by injuries. He joined Maroussi’s youth teams in the mid-1970s and debuted in the Greek second division at age 16. He was a promising power forward, but knee injuries forced him to retire at age 27. Having already coached at youth levels, moving into the professional coaching ranks was his next logical step. He started with smaller clubs Pefki, Eraklio, Vrilissia and Kifissia before assisting Greek legend Panagiotis Giannakis at Maroussi, where he first worked with Vassilis Spanoulis, this year’s Final Four bwin MVP. In 2006, Olympia Larissa gave Bartzokas his first head-coaching opportunity in Greece’s first division. He led Larissa to successive playoff appearances, and after three seasons returned home to Maroussi, only this time as a head coach. By the end of that 2009-10 season, Bartzokas was no longer unknown in Europe. He guided Maroussi all the way from the Euroleague qualification round into the Top 16, where his team helped eliminate defending champion Panathinaikos Athens and flirted with a playoff berth. Bartzokas was awarded the Greek League Coach of the Year trophy for 2010, but that proved to be his final bow at Maroussi after the club began to experience financial difficulties. From there he moved to Panionios BC, where in the second of two seasons, he guided the team to a third-place Greek League finish behind only Olympiacos and Panathinaikos. His work at Panionios convinced Olympiacos to target Bartzokas last summer, after Ivkovic retired, as the coach who would defend the team’s Euroleague trophy.

Bartzokas earns the trophy after his first season on the sidelines for Olympiacos, having taken over the reins of the 2011-12 Euroleague champions in July of 2012 from Dusan Ivkovic, who retired after 35 years as a head coach at the highest levels of International Basketball. Ivkovic was named recipient of the 2011-12 Gomelskiy Trophy after Olympiacos’ championship season where they shocked CSKA Moscow coming from 19 down to win in the final seconds. Bartzokas’ club had their struggles during the Euroleague regular season, dropping to 1-3 at the start of the Top 16 play, but then won five straight and eventually ended up moving on. They went to a decisive fifth game against Anadulo Efes, got down by 15, yet pulled off a huge comeback and earned their seat in the Final Four. In the rematch of the 2011-12 Finals, the Reds pounded CSKA Moscow 69:52 and then as was their way of operating this season, found themselves down 17 in the Final contest against Real Madrid, only to come back and not only win their second title in two seasons, but to do it with a 12-point margin, 100:88.

Alexander Gomelskiy Trophy

The Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy pays tribute to the coaching legend who won the first three Euroleague titles, from 1958 to 1960, with ASK Riga. Gomelskiy, the father of basketball in the Soviet Union and Russia, also led CSKA to the continental crown in 1971, his fourth and final title. He passed away in 2005 at age 77. Since then, the award has been handed out to the best head coach of each Euroleague season, as voted by his peers. Pini Gershon of Maccabi Tel Aviv was the inaugural winner in 2005. Ettore Messina of CSKA Moscow won in 2006 and 2008, while Zeljko Obradovic of Panathinaikos also won twice, in 2007 and 2011. Dusko Vujosevic won with Partizan in 2009; the 2010 winner was Xavi Pascual of Regal FC Barcelona and Ivkovic was awarded the trophy last season. Bartzokas will receive the Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year trophy at the 2013-14 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Draw on Thursday, July 4 in Barcelona, Spain.

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