FIBA-Euroleague InterContinental Cup
The FIBA-Euroleague Intercontinental Cup recently concluded its third edition after being brought back into existence as a regular competition, off the back of a 25 year hiatus.
In a partnership between FIBA, FIBA Americas and the Euroleague, the modern era of the tournament follows on from what was an annual event up until 1987 – having been inaugurated way back in 1966.
Since its rebirth, each continent has lifted the Intercontinental Cup at least once, with European juggernauts Olympiacos winning the coveted silverware on its re-introduction in 2013 and current holders Real Madrid scooping the prize in 2015 by beating Bauru of Brazil.
Jaycee Carroll carried Los Blancos to a 91-79 victory with 22 points after Madrid had narrowly lost the first of the two game series. Sergio Lull also posted 21 points and six assists, while Gustavo Ayon dominated the glass with 15 rebounds, as Ricardo Fischer tried to inspire the Brazilians with 26 points in defeat.
Real Madrid now have a fantastic five Intercontinental Cups in the trophy cabinet and had already entered 2015 with more finishes on the top step of the podium than any other club in the history of the competition – following on from their record ninth Euroleague title.
Their last FIBA-Euroleague Intercontintental Cup triumph came way back in 1981 against E.C. Sirio - also in Sao Paulo.
Meanwhile sandwiched in between both European victories, was joy and a real party for Flamengo who defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2014 to proudly fly the flag for both Brazil and the Americas.
The origins of this prestigious competition can be traced back to 1965, when a successful test event was held in Sao Paulo – also featuring Real Madrid and Corinthians who won the game.
Hailed as a success, it led to its formal initiation a year later and while held in Madrid, it was Italian club Varese who took the considerable distinction of being installed as the first ever winners.
They would triumph again in 1970 and 1973, but only after a treble from Akron Wingfoots of the USA.
The feat of winning three consecutive titles was replicated by Real Madrid between 1976 and 1978, with Sirio of Brazil the first champions coming out of South America a year later.
That initiated an exciting run of nine editions which yielded nine different winners up until 1987, with Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), Real Madrid (Spain), Canyu (Italy), Obras Sanitarias (Argentina), Virtus Roma (Italy), FC Barcelona (Spain), Zalgris (Soviet Union), and Olimpia Milano (Italy) all enjoying a taste of success.
Briefly resurrected during 1996 when Panathinaikos won a three-game series against Olimpia of Argentina, the Greek heavyweights clung on to their status as holders until 2013, when somewhat ironically it was fierce city rivals Olympiacos who jumped onto the throne with an aggregate win over Pinheiros.