Philadelphia 76ers: JaKarr Sampson, Marco Belinelli win the EuroCup

As tough as it is to admit, the Philadelphia 76ers will not finish out the 2021-22 NBA season as NBA champions.

I know, I wanted to see it too; the confetti on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center, the Fanatics email with championship merch, the parade down Broad, all of it, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. The Miami Heat were just a better team than the Sixers, and now we’ll be forced to suffer through yet another offseason with more questions than answers.

Should the Sixers bring back Doc Rivers? And what about Tobias Harris? James Harden has already declared he’ll be back, but on what kind of deal and for how long?

Unfortunately, this is just the start of a very long offseason, but guess what? Even if the Philadelphia 76ers won’t close out the 2021-22 NBA season as champions, that doesn’t mean some of their former players won’t, as two former fan favorites just won the EuroCup.

Two former Philadelphia 76ers are now champions.

Marco Belinelli and JaKarr Sampson took very different paths to Virtus Bologna.

Since his storied run to the second round with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2017-18, Belinelli returned to San Antonio on a two-year, $12 million deal. While he did have a few bright spots over that tenure, especially in his first season back with the Spurs, the writing was on the wall that the then-34-year-old probably wasn’t long for the NBA level. Belinelli returned to Spain, where he began his basketball journey all the way back in 2002 and signed a three-year contract with Virtus Bologna that would run through the 2022-23 season.

Over three seasons of EurpoCup play, Belinelli has averaged 13.8 points per game in 20 minutes of action and has served as a veteran presence alongside younger guards like Golden State Warriors draftee Nico Mannion.

And as for JaKarr Sampson, a Philly special from the Sam Hinkie era? Well, since being waived by the Sixers on February 18th, 2016, the St. John’s product has bounced around the association, with spots in Denver, Sacramento, Chicago, and Indiana from 2019-21. Theoretically, Sampson’s versatility should have made him an asset, as he can more or less play any position one-through-four as a spot-up reserve coming off the bench, his run with the Pacers was underwhelming and after failing to draw much interest in free agency, opted to sign with Virtus Bologna heading into 2021-22 season.

While Sampson hasn’t been a focal point of the Virtus’ offense, with that honor going to players like Mouhammadou Jaiteh, Kyle Weems, Milos Teodosic, and Belinelli, he provided good frontcourt production for one of the better teams in Italian Lega Basket Serie A despite averaging just 13.4 minutes per game.

Fortunately, the duo can now add champions to their resume, which, at least for Belinelli, marks his second taste of postseason gold in professional basketball.

JaKarr Sampson and Marco Belinelli are in very different spots in their NBA career. While the latter is probably content to finish out his professional basketball career in his home country, his teammate would probably like to make his way back to the NBA for a seventh season. Fortunately, after watching the Philadelphia 76ers struggle to clamp down on the interchangeable frontcourt the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat have to offer, he might not have to look far for his next opportunity.