By Lefteris Moutis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
CSKA Moscow is by default the favorite to dethrone Olympiacos. Barcelona is also a member of the elite, even if there are some doubts lately about their current condition. Partizan and Brose Baskets starts from different places, but both want to do something big this season. Besiktas would like to do the same, but it’s not last season’s team and Lietuvos Rytas is but a shadow of its former past.
What they lost with Giorgos Printezis’ hook shot last year, they will try to win it this season with coach Etorre Messina on board. CSKA spent more than anyone else in Europe also this year, but the Italian coach chose players who are both stars and also play for the team. Weems, Jackson, Micov, Erceg can’t fulfill – at least until proven otherwise – the gap Kirilenko, Shved, Siskaouskas created, but as a unit Russians may have an advantage.
PREDICTION: They will be in the Final Four, but after hiring Messina their one and only goal is to win the trophy. They are the favorite to do so.
Barcelona is still a curious case after the changes in its front line and Eidson’s departure. The transfers of Tomic, Jawai, Jasikevicius don’t persuade that “blaugrana” will be better and the investment with youngsters like Todorovic, Abrines will pay up in the future. Caoch Xavi Pascual must find a new magic recipe, a way to use together Huertas, Navarro, Saras and an effective defense plane for Barcelona to go further. But they beat the Mavericks.
PREDICTION: They should get at least at the play offs, but after that it’s hard to predict anything else right now.
Dusko Vujosevic came back after two seasons to do the thing he knows better than anyone else in Europe: to discover the best talent and create teams that surprise everyone. Apart from that, he signed two very promising Americans (Gordon and Thomas) and a Frenchman (Westermann) who can make the difference and follow the tradition of their career take off in Belgrade, as did the career of many players before them.
PREDICTION: They have a good shot for the Top 16, because their roster is talented, their gym full and some of them opponents close to their level
Brose Baskets Bamberg
The enemy of good is better and Bamberg wants to improve more and to return after six years in Top 16. Coach Fleming must create a new team after Roberts, Tucker, Suput and Pleis departure and hopes that Gipson, Nachbar, Zirbes, Ford, Ogilvy will help more also due to their experience.
PREDICTION: Their opponents have similar quality, but they seem a little better and so they can make the leap to Τop 16.
They are a curious experiment. Coach Aleksandar Djikic is building a team without an American player in Lietuvos Rytas. The successful years of Rice and Roberts in Vilnius ended, and also gone are Valanciunas, Rasic who helped a lot last season. The roster seems to be less talented than ever before.
PREDICTION: Last season the team played in the Eurocup Final Four, but this time nobody sees them making it past the regular season.
Besiktas lost during the summer its main sponsor and was forced to create a new team with lower budget and expectations than last season historic “triple crown” run. Coach Erman Kunter came back to Turkey after his years in France and he will be successful only if Besiktas qualify to the next round having in his roster players who don’t belong in the highest level.
PREDICTION: Besiktas in its first Euroleague appearance wants to make the qualification jump to Top 16. But it’s hard to do this, in though there is in a balanced group.