He is one of the most beloved players to wear the Panathinaikos’ jersey. Stojan Vrankovic first got acquainted with the clover fans as….an opponent, whether at club level playing for Aris, or at National Teams level, playing for the Yugoslavia National Team and then the Croatia National Team. Panathinaikos and the Greek National Team kept finding him on the other side of the fence, but it was not long before he put on the green jersey for the first time and stopped being Stojan Vrankovic by becoming the ‘Stojko’ that everyone loved, not just up in the fans’ stands, but also inside the team..
Way tall and athletic, he was the ideal players for his team-mates to stir their opponents to. Most of the times that would end up with a …royal block from Stojko. His being in the court had a single purpose: to help his team-mates and his team as much as possible. To him that was what basketball is all about: doing what the team needs and making the lives his team-mates easier. This is the kind of mentality that, those who know him best can assure you, was true about him in his private life as well, away from the basketball courts, where he stood by the side of anyone who needed him, anyone who asked him for help.
Born on January 22nd, 1964 in Drnis, Croatia, he played for KK Zadar (1982-89) and Aris (1989-90), before …clovers came blooming in his life, first on the Boston Celtics jersey (1990-92) and then on the Panathinaikos’ one (1992-96). He left the “Greens” for a last attempt at an NBA career, initially with the Minnesota Timberwolves (1996-97) and then with the Los Angeles Clippers (1997-99). He returned to Europe to end his career with Fortitudo Bologna (1999-2001).
At National Teams’ level, he has won the 1989 Eurobasket gold medal, the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games silver medal, the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games silver medal, the 1986 and 1994 World Championship bronze medal, and the Eurobaket bronze medal in 1987, 1993, and 1995.
During his Panathinaikos’ years he won the Greek Cup title (1993) and became European champion (1996). In the latter, his contribution was invaluable and he is certainly the player that most fans will remember. It was his block on Benetton Treviso’s Zeljko Rebraca that sealed the deal and sent the “clover” to the Palais de Bercy Final Four; and it was again his block on Barcelona’s Juan Antonio Montero in the competition final that brought Panathinaikos the victory and the European title in Paris in a ten-second sprint that will remain deeply etched in everyone’s mind. It was a four-year presence with Panathinaikos’ that no-one will forget.