A rubric was developed to determine which European basketball league has been the most historically successful. The points rubric awards progressively more points the further a club went in the FIBA European Champions Cup / EuroLeague playoffs. Historically, the Spanish league has been the most successful league in European basketball. Clubs in the Italian and Greek leagues have also been very strong over the years.
16 pts – European champions
8 pts – Reached final
4 pts – Reached semi-finals
2 pts – Top 8 finish
1 pt – Top 16 finish
Note: Some years had different playoff structures, so the equivalent level was used in those years
TOP 5 MOST SUCCESSFUL LEAGUES
1. Spain – Liga ACB – 592 pts.
Spanish teams have enjoyed the most success in European basketball history. Real Madrid has become the champions of Europe 11 times, the most of any club. In addition, FC Barcelona and Joventut Badalona have won the championship as well. Furthermore, Saski Baskonia went to the European finals in both 2001 and 2005, but did not win.
2. Italy – Lega Basket Serie A – 474 pts.
For many decades, the Italian basketball clubs could have claimed to have the most success in Europe. However, in the last few decades its teams have not achieved as much as in the past. In the 1970’s, Pallacanestro Varese was particularly dominate, winning 5 European championships. Three other Italian clubs, Olimpia Milano, Vitrus Bologna, and Pallacanestro Cantù have also won multiple titles.
3. Greece – Greek Basket League – 325 pts.
Greek basketball really started growing in the 1990’s. The nation has been dominated by two powerhouse teams: Panathinaikos and Olympiacos. Panathinaikos won the European league on 6 occasions and was runner-up once. Olympiacos won the European league 3 times and was runner-up 6 times. Another Greek basketball club, AEK, was the runner-up in 1998.
4. Russia – VTB United League – 273 pts.
CSKA Moscow has been a dominate force in Russian basketball. The club has collected 8 European basketball championships, the second most of any team. Its most recent title came in 2019. BC Khimki and Lokomotiv Kuban are two other Russian clubs that have had some success in European basketball, although they have not reached the championship game yet.
5. Former Yugoslavia – ABA League – 254 pts.
Although Yugoslavia no longer exists as a unified nation, the ABA League is the top league for clubs from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. Teams from Yugoslavia were especially successful before the country’s breakup. Two clubs from Croatia, KK Split and KK Cibona, have won the European championship multiple times. However, in 1992, Partizan was the last Yugoslavian club to win the title.
Uses the final 16 teams in the EuroLeague (1996-present) and its forerunner the European Champions Cup (1958-1996).
For the full table of all European national leagues ranked and a breakdown of success decade by decade please see: