Following the tumultuous ending to the previous decade, Real Madrid rebuilt with the objective of returning to the top of the continental game. Another basketballing legend, Arvydas Sabonis, joined The Whites as they made history by winning their eighth European Cup in 1995. Following that, figures like Herreros, Bodiroga and Djordjevic ensured that the side would finish the century with more titles.
In the summer of 1992, Real Madrid acquired the services of Arvydas Sabonis. Nicknamed ‘the tsar’, he was a key piece of the new project headed up by Mariano Jaquotot, who oversaw the running of the team as he looked to take them to the top of the continental game. A pivot with outstanding vision for which there was no stopping him.
The goal was completed with the signing of Joe Arlauckas, his ideal partner on the court, and the appointment of Zeljko Obradovic in 1994. The Serbian coach had won the Euroleague in two of the last three seasons with two different sides (Partizan and Joventut). With the correct pieces on the table, success was only a matter of time.
THE ‘EYE OF THE TIGER’
In 1991, upon the exit of George Karl, Clifford Luyk took over the side. A winner of six European Cups as a player, the pivot wanted to put his stamp on the nineties Real Madrid. He popularised the expression ‘the eye of the tiger’, something he wanted to see in his players. He lead the side in two different periods (1991 to 1994 and the 1998-99 season), in which Madrid won two league titles, one Copa del Rey, and an exhilarating Saporta Cup in 1992, which was won my Ricky Brown’s last minute basket.
KINGS OF EUROPE ONCE AGAIN
With Arvydas Sabonis, Real Madrid grew during the 1994-95 season. They got to the Final Four in the Euroleague in Zaragoza as an unmatched side. Madrid played two close to perfect games, showing excellent concentration and outstanding defensive work. The result was the side’s eighth European Cup. It was the end of the Sabonis era on this side of the Atlantic and the icing on the cake of the careers of Arlauckas, Biriukov, Santos and Antonio Martín. Following the title Sabas, without doubt the continent’s best player, went to play in the NBA.
ALWAYS WITH THE BEST
Loyal to their philosophy of always having the best players, Real Madrid rebuilt following the title of 1995 and the Final Four of 1996. Pedro Gerrándiz, who returned to the club’s offices, signed star Spanish forward Alberto Herreros. European giant Dejan Bodiroga also arrived. With a good group of players, including Pablo Laso, Alberto Angulo and Juan Orenga, they won the Saporta Cup in 1997 against Riello Verona.
THE LAST LEAGUE TITLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY: MADRID’S
Just as with the first National League, the first ACB League was won by Madrid. The final league of the 20th century, of course, was not going to be any different. Following an indifferent regular season, Real Madrid got to the final of the ACB 1999-00, where they travelled to Barcelona. Alberto Herreros, the best player around at the time, was injured, and could only play 14 minutes in the series final. Barça were overwhelming favourites. However Real Madrid won two matches at the Palau, including the fifth and decisive one. Sasha Djordjevic, who had left the Catalan side the summer before, came back to haunt his former club. It was the club’s 28th league title.