Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal
Credit: BasketNews/Begum Unal

Elijah Bryant added another major feat to his career resume by winning the EuroLeague title with Anadolu Efes Istanbul in Belgrade on Saturday night. 

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Prior to joining Efes, Elijah Bryant had taken home the Larry O'Brien trophy with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. The former BYU basketball star has joined former Lakers forward Jim Brewer as the only professional hoopers to win the top basketball championships in the two continents in back-to-back years.

Brewer, now 70, was the second pick in the NBA Draft. He played the center position, mostly for the Cleveland Cavaliers (1973-79), before winning the NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982. At 30, he moved overseas for Pallacanestro Cantu, lifting the European title in 1983 with the Italian team. 

Bryant also becomes the 11th player in history to win both titles in a career, joining the likes of Hall of Famers Manu Ginobili, Bob McAdoo, and Toni Kukoc, and his teammate Rodrigue Beaubois who was crowned NBA champ with Dallas in 2011, a decade before reaching European glory with Efes.

The 27-year-old swingman helped the Turkish powerhouse claim their second consecutive EuroLeague title. He was held scoreless over 29 minutes but grabbed a team-high 8 rebounds while helping hold finalists Real Madrid to 18.2% from 3-point range.

In their semifinal win over Olympiacos on Thursday, Bryant went 4/5 from the 3-point range to finish with 16 points to go along with 6 rebounds.

Anadolu Efes X-factor began his international career in Israel, where he won the championship in 2020 with Maccabi Tel Aviv before joining the Bucks. Bryant has averaged 7.3 points over 57 games in the current season, starting in 32 contests and shooting 49.1% from the field. 

Player of the Game
Tibor  Pleiss
EFF
24
Tibor Pleiss
Points 19
Accuracy 8-10
Rebounds 7
Assists 0

On the eve of the EuroLeague final, Bryant spoke to BasketNews about being on the verge of a rare milestone.

"It would be super cool. There's a lot of media attention around the game, but the main focus is the game for me. If I do everything right, all the other stuff will come." 

Although he didn't score in the championship game, Bryant still found a way to be effective and useful, contributing to other facets of the outing. After all, only five of coach Ergin Ataman's players found their way to Real Madrid's basket, marking a new all-time record in Final Four finals.

"This isn't golf or tennis. It's a team sport. To win a championship, you have to get stops on defense. If someone is on a bad night, someone else can contribute. Tibor (Pleiss) stepped up tonight, and many guys did the same," he told BasketNews in a media-packed mixed zone in Belgrade's Stark Arena on Saturday night. 

"I feel gratitude to my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. I couldn't have done it without him," the former Hapoel Eilat guard-forward admitted.

"Obviously, I'm very grateful to the team, the guys around me that picked me up on the days I wasn't playing well. They gave me confidence," he continued.

Bryant had a short, albeit very substantial, presence in the NBA. He scored 16 points in his first and only regular-season game with future champions, Milwaukee Bucks, against the Chicago Bulls on May 16 and participated in another 11 playoff contests with them.

In late September, he was waived by the Bucks, who re-signed him three days later before letting him go - for good

"It was short, but I was able to get a championship, gain a lot of knowledge from the older guys, veterans like Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday. I was able to learn a lot in the short stint I was there. 

It definitely opened my eyes to see that I can play at that level. When it's my time, I'll be there," the Georgia-born athlete said in an interview with BasketNews last October.

Before the EuroLeague final against Real Madrid, Bryant had pointed to some similarities between NBA and EuroLeague superstars. 

"There's a calmness on both sides. I saw a lot of stuff from Giannis (Antetokounmpo), Jrue (Holiday), and Khris (Middleton). I've seen stuff from Shane and Vasa. To see these high-level guys even in difficult situations staying very calm was one of the secrets to their success," he told BasketNews.

However, in the long run, Bryant will always cherish and remember the emotions and the way Efes won that title.

"Defense and the big-time shot Vasa made in the semifinal."

"The emotions you feel the night before the game, and during the nap, it's almost like you're floating. When it actually happens, and you win, it's like you're in a dream," he described. 

In any case, for him, the feelings of winning the NBA and the EuroLeague title are comparable. However, there's still a small difference.

"I cried for both of them, actually. But I cried a little bit more for this one. There are a lot of emotions involved. I had a bigger contribution in this one, but it's rare, man! I'm super grateful."

When Efes' offer came along, it was essentially a no-brainer for Bryant.

"I wanted to win a championship," he admitted.

"There were some other teams I could have signed with, offering me a bigger role. But I want to play for championships every year," Bryant continued. "At the end of your career, you don't look at your bank account, but at how many championships you've got. I want to build a legacy - that's my plan."

Legacy is a strong word, but Elijah Bryant and Anadolu Efes are by all means part of a historic run. Emotions are overwhelming, and Bryant says he can't even think about what's ahead.

"I'm so grateful for these guys, and I want to celebrate with them. We'll figure everything out when we get back to Turkey."

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Real Madrid
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
30%
20/67
Field goals
41%
23/56
40
Rebounds
44
14
Assists
7
6
Steals
5
20
Fouls
16
41%
14/34
2-pointers
53%
17/32

Best players

Walter  Tavares
14 PTS
5/8 FG
4/6 FT
Vasilije  Micic
23 PTS
8/15 FG
3/4 FT
Walter  Tavares
11 REB
3 DREB
8 OREB
Elijah  Bryant
8 REB
5 DREB
3 OREB
Sergio  Llull
6 As
0 TO
22 MIN
Shane  Larkin
4 As
1 TO
37 MIN
Walter  Tavares
20 EFF
63% 2P%
- 3P%
Tibor  Pleiss
24 EFF
88% 2P%
50% 3P%