By Nikos Varlas/ email@example.com
Euroleague finally starts! The 24 best teams from all over the continent are ready to play and everyone wants a good start in order to get a step closer to the… real season, the new Top 16 of two groups and 14 gamedays! Eurohoops.net gets you into the game and writes what you should know about the coming games!
The game of the week
It’s the easiest of choice between 12 games! Friday night, at 21.30 (CET). Two European powerhouses, having won in total 14 Euroleague titles, will fight it out at “Palacio De Deportes”, Madrid! Real, a real “Queen” has won the trophy 8 times – four of them in the sixties – and Panathinaikos has six, five of them after 2000 with Zeljko Obradovic on its bench!
The coach with the most titles in the competition after 13 season left Panathinaikos, he choose to rest this year and he is ready for a new experience at the training camp of Detroit Pistons, as he said to Eurohoops. What the funny thing about him? He has won Euroleague 8 times, as many as Real Madrid, and his last Euroleague trophy before moving to Athens and Panathinaikos was that of 1995 as the coach of… Real Madrid. Zoc won it at Zaragoza and that’s until this moment the last Euroleague trophy of Real.
Real, the favorite!
At this glorious premier, the favorite is Real. This year the Spanish team is entering the season more ambitious than ever, at least for the last decade. The two opponents met last time at 2009-10 season and Madrid won both games in regular season. The team of coach Pablo Laso is really strong, it has one of the leagues biggest stars in Rudy Fernandez and the only factor that could work against them is the fatigue from their USA tour for the games against Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Panathinaikos in the post Obradovic era, trusted the reign of the team to experienced Greek coach Argiris Pedoulakis and has 12 new players in its roster. Only Diamantidis and Tsartsaris remained from last season and are the links to the recent past. Real is the favorite, but Panathinaikos is still a proud team and also an… unknown unit of many new and hungry players. It will be a big test for them.
HONORABLE MENTION: Τhe second most important game of the premier is also played on Friday between the ambitious EA7 Armani Milano and the… even more ambitious Anadolu Efes. We are eager to see the Euroleague debut of Langford and Hendrix with the Italian team, while Efes will not have on the court its long time leader, injured guard Kerem Tunceri. On the other hand, this game marks the Euroleague return of Jordan Farmar, who will play for Efes and was arguably the biggest summer transfer in Europe.
Under the microscope: Bo McCalebb
Bo McCalebb will start this Euroleague season as a player of Fenerbahce/ Ulker under his old coach at Siena, Simone Pianigiani! The Turkish club spend a tone of money and paid Bo’s old team a monstrous buy out in order to find the best possible leader. McCalebb finished last season with 16,9 ppg and 2,7 apg as a member of Siena. He has to produce at least the same numbers for Fenerbahce and be ready to respond in the crucial moments of the season.
The unknown war: Ivanovic vs Dorsey
A beautiful true story exists in this year edition of the clash between long time Euroleague opponents, defending champion Olympiacos and Caja Laboral. As the proverb goes: everything happens for a reason! It’s the third time (the last two were at 2006-07 season and at 2007-08) they meet on the opening night of the season at Piraeus and the man of the match is 29 years old American center Joey Dorsey.
Caja’s coach Dusko Ivanovic was the one who brought the player in Europe the summer of 2011 (during the NBA lock out), but they didn’t have a joint future. Dorsey wasn’t part of Caja’s rotation, the team missed the Top 16 and on January of 2012, Joey reappeared as a member of… Olympiacos and he was a key player in their championship run. For sure, Ivanovic will feel strange meeting him again and it will be interesting to see the way that both of them will react on Thursday night.
The question: Juan Carlos Navarro
If there is a question among the “giants” of European basketball, that has to do with Barcelona and its natural leader, Juan Carlos Navarro who is still plagued with injury woes in his feet. Barcelona has started the season with two defeats in Spanish Liga Endesa, its game is not fluid enough and the Friday game at home against the solid German champions Brose Baskets is a chance for answers from Catalonia!
Numbers that counts!