EuroLeague blocked-shots king Vazquez retires

May 07, 2020 by Print
EuroLeague blocked-shots king Vazquez retires

One of the most decorated defensive players of the century, former Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion center Fran Vazquez, announced his retirement from active basketball on Thursday. Vazquez, 37, will hang up his basketball shoes at the end of the season, putting an end to a 19-year career during which he won the 2010 EuroLeague title with FC Barcelona. He played 12 total EuroLeague seasons, six each with Barcelona and Unicaja Malaga. In his 254 career EuroLeague games, Vazquez amassed 1,640 points and 911 rebounds. Even though the 2015-16 campaign was his last in the competition, Vazquez remains the all-time leader in blocked shots with 249.

Born in Chantada, Spain, Vazquez was recruited to Siglo XXI, a developing program for young talents that also featured Sergio Rodriguez, the Urtasun twins – Alex and Txemi – and Saul Blanco, who all made it to the Spanish top level. Vazquez joined Unicaja in 2000 and made his EuroLeague debut in the 2002-03 campaign. He also played for Bilbao Basket, Gran Canaria and Akasvayu Girona before joining Barcelona in 2006. There Vazquez consolidated his reputation as a defensive wall. He set a Spanish League record with 12 blocks in a game against Valladolid on January 7, 2007. He added 11 points and 10 rebounds for that competition's sixth-ever triple-double. Only one other player, Luka Doncic, has registered a triple-double in the Spanish League since. In his six seasons with Barcelona, Vazquez helped his team win three Spanish League crowns, three Spanish Copa Del Rey titles and the EuroLeague trophy in 2010.

Vazquez played a major role at the 2010 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four. He had a game-high 11 points and 6 rebounds in the semifinals against CSKA Moscow and blocked 4 shots in the first quarter of the final against Olympiacos Piraeus, setting the defensive tone for the rest of the game. He later returned to Unicaja, where he would play for the remainder of his EuroLeague career, until 2016. Vazquez also played for Iberostar Tenerife, with which he won the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Intercontinental Cup titles in 2017, before joining his current club, Tecnyconta Zaragoza. Only two players in EuroLeague history have a better field-goal shooting percentage (59.7% ) than Vazquez with as many attempts (1,160): Kyle Hines and Jan Vesely. He also leads the Spanish League's all-time blocks standings at 738 and may add more if the competition resumes this season.

"My six years in Barcelona were unbelievable, personally and professionally," Vazquez said in making his announcement on-line on Thursday. "I managed to achieve many things, but above all, we went to the Final Four in Paris and won the EuroLeague. We played against the best teams in Europe and against the best players, like Spanoulis, Diamantidis... I could go on forever. Being able to win this EuroLeague title was the biggest achievement, the mecca, reaching an incredible level... I don't even know how to express it!"