LONDON (Euroleague) - The great ones bounce back from disappointments. When they're knocked down, they get off the canvas and start throwing punches again.
Vassilis Spanoulis has proved he is a great one over the years, not only by playing important roles on teams that win championships, but also by showing the capacity to grow stronger after setbacks.
Seemingly poised to make a third straight trip to the Olympics last summer with Greece at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Venezuela, Spanoulis and Greece suffered a huge upset in a must-win game against Nigeria.
Spanoulis had 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists in that game but his horror show at the free-throw line, where he made just six of 12, spoiled an otherwise terrific showing.
Nigeria took full advantage by prevailing 80-79 and later advanced to the Olympics.
Having been named the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four MVP just several weeks before - having led Olympiacos to the title with an improbable comeback triumph over CSKA Moscow in the championship game - Spanoulis went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.
However, the 30-year-old has rebounded in grand style.
The Euroleague have this week honored him as their MVP for 2012-13.
Spanoulis, a gold-medal winner with Greece at EuroBasket 2005 and member of the Greek team that famously upset the United States in the Semi-Finals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship, provided a season-long spark for Olympiacos as they made it back to the Final Four, which is being played this weekend in London.
He averaged 14.7 points and 5.59 assists while hitting 79% (113 for 143) of his attempts at the free-throw line.
In the Reds' do-or-die Quarter-Final Game 5 clash with Anadolu Efes on 26 April, Spanoulis scored 19 points and handed out five assists in an 82-72 come-from-behind victory.
The 1.93m guard was also the MVP of the 2009 Final Four after leading Panathinaikos to glory that year.
"Winning an individual award is good but if your team also succeeds, it is a double pleasure," Spanoulis said.
"The team made it to the Final Four and we have the chance to do something good this year."
Spanoulis and Olympiacos will have their work cut out early Friday evening as they go up against CSKA Moscow in the first Euroleague Semi-Final, with Barcelona taking on Real Madrid in the nightcap.
The title game will be played on Sunday.
This summer, Spanoulis will take center stage once again for the Greeks when he runs onto the floor at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia, a qualifying event for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Spanoulis is the third member of the Greek national sides to win EuroBasket 2005 Gold and 2006 FIBA World Championship Silver to be named Euroleague MVP.
Theo Papaloukas received the honor in the 2006-07 campaign as a member of CSKA Moscow and Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos scooped the award for the 2010-11 season.