Zaza Pachulia becomes Georgia’s first NBA champion

  • Zaza Pachulia (third from left, second row) celebrates the 2016-2017 NBA title with Golden State Warriors on Monday., 13 Jun 2017 - 15:02, Tbilisi,Georgia

Zaza Pachulia made history for Georgia on Monday by becoming the first player from the country to earn the National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship ring as Golden State Warriors defeated Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals of the tournament.

Pachulia became the first Georgian to appear in the finals of the most prestigious national basketball championship when he stepped on the court in the game held in Oakland, California.

The 33-year old centre also registered three rebounds and one assist during his nine-minute spell in the most important match of the season, capping the performance with the first NBA champion's title for any athlete from Georgia.

Pachulia dedicated his win to his home country following the match, while his achievement was celebrated on social media by Georgian citizens and officials including Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry and forward Kevin Durant played the principal roles in the game as their team won the closely contested fixture with a final score 129-120.

Durant scored 39 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Curry added 34 points, six rebounds and ten assists to help the Warriors to a 4-1 victory in the five-game series between the teams.

For Pachulia, the result signified the success of his move to the Warriors in July 2016, following a fruitful season with Dallas Mavericks.

The Georgian centre ranked among the top 10 players in the league for offensive rebounds in both 2015 and 2016.

Last year he also featured among the players leading in the double-double — a match performance where a player achieves double digit numbers in two of five statistical categories.

Following his then-career-best NBA season, Pachulia famously came close to appearing in the league’s 2016 All-Star match, in part thanks to a nation-wide support from his Georgian fans voting for their favourite in the online poll.

The Georgian joined the NBA in 2003 when he was drafted by Orlando Magic after a successful career start in the Turkish Basketball League.

He also played for Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks until 2015, when he was picked by Dallas Mavericks and later moved to the Warriors.