As Pablo Laso leads his team into their fifth Final Four together in the last six seasons, his success recalls the past golden eras of Real Madrid basketball and makes the quiet spell before his arrival easily forgotten. Before the club's former point guard took over in 2011, Madrid had reached just one Final Four since the turn of the century and had last become European champion in 1995. All that changed very quickly as Laso took his team to consecutive runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2014 before ending the long wait for Madrid's ninth EuroLeague crown in 2015.
Over his seven years in the Spanish capital, Laso has worked with a quartet of stars – Jaycee Carroll, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Llull and Felipe Reyes – to make their goal of lifting Madrid back to great heights a shining reality. Laso's smooth integration of other important players to keep the team balanced and his ability to develop young talents, like Luka Doncic and Nikola Mirotic, are particularly notable aspects of his time in charge.
As anyone who loves basketball knows, Laso's teams have always been entertaining to watch. Madrid has averaged at least 85 points per game in five of his seasons on the bench. Likewise, his Madrid teams have posted three of the EuroLeague's seven best performance index rating averages this century. Achieving that unique blend of competitiveness and creativity is among Laso's greatest achievements.
This 2017-18 campaign has been without a doubt the most challenging season that Laso has experienced so far with Madrid. A seemingly endless succession of injuries to key players has tested his coaching abilities to the maximum. Despite that misfortune, Laso was able to instill his team with enough resilience and versatility to pass the test and progress to the most decisive games of the EuroLeague season – something that, to his great credit, has become a habit once again for Real Madrid.