The third edition of the fast-paced format begins all against all of the Euroleague, with Real Madrid defending the crown won five months ago in Belgrade. The Whites then defeated Feradobahçe of Obradovic to lift their tenth European Cup before the Serbian totem (second in the list of winners with 9 titles) and now face a major challenge. Nobody has managed to revalidate the trophy in the last five years, from the two championships that Olympiacos linked in 2012 and 2013. Only Maccabi, in 2004 and 2005, had achieved it before in this century.
The most successful club in the continent has not chained two seasons of European reign for 50 years when, in 1968, Pedro Ferrándiz won the third of his four continental gimmicks. "An exciting challenge begins. We lost Luka Doncic, who last year was the most decisive player in Europe, but I do not think my squad is worse, "affirmed Pablo Laso on the eve of the premiere. Since his arrival in 2011, Madrid has had five appearances in the Final Four, four finals and two titles, for a total of 16 trophies out of a possible 30. This course, the path concludes in his native Vitoria and faces him with the additions of Prepelic, Deck and the Pantzar canterano.
Start a new race for the esteemed Euroleague, with eight months of intensive competition, four weeks with a double match and a stressful start with five days in 23 days. They leave the track Unicaja, Valencia, Estrella Roja and Brose Bamberg. Debuts the Gran Canaria, returns the Buducnost 15 years later and reappear Bayern and Darussafaka, champion of the last Eurocup and first rival of Madrid. In the two years of validity of this format, the champion of the regular league discarded in the semifinals of the Final Four, while the fifth classified after the 30 days got into the fight for the title with the field factor against the playoffs (Fenerbahçe in 2017 and Real Madrid in 2018, both against Panathinaikos) and ended up proclaiming himself champion.
It will be the first Euroleague without Juan Carlos Navarro, the player who has played the most matches in the tournament (341) since he acquired his current configuration in the 2000-2001 season (he only missed 2007-08, in Memphis) and the top scorer History of the tournament (4,152 points). And the 15th year of Felipe Reyes with 38 years. "It will be strange to see Juan Carlos in a suit. The day of the withdrawal reaches us all, but I want to reach 40, "said the Madrid captain yesterday. The historical challenge of his team is crossed with the urgency of Barça to rearm after four courses outside the elite – the last two away in addition to the playoff in 11th and 13th positions- and with Baskonia's ambition to reach its Final Four in the Buesa Arena of Vitoria. To reach it, the Pesic have undertaken their umpteenth reconstruction by hiring a new and shiny quintet: Pangos, Kuric, Blazic, Singleton and Pustovyi. "We will see if we are prepared to do something more than qualify among the top eight," said the Barça coach before the opening against CSKA, mixing messages in all directions. "For me, the ACB is more important than the Euroleague. But we did not travel 4 hours and a half to Moscow to lose the game. The goal is to win games and play a modern basketball to fill the Palau, "analyzed Pesic.
Meanwhile, Baskonia, habitual agitator of the transfer market, faces the most important Euroleague in its history with just a couple of tweaks: Beaubois (Efes) and Timma (Olympiacos) come out and Shavon Shields and Darrun Hilliard arrive. The great signing was retaining its leader, Shengelia, renewed until 2022. "The Final Four at home has to be a motivation not an extra pressure. Continuity is key to maintaining the chemistry of the team, "says the Baskonist captain.
The fourth Spanish set in the contest will be the Herbalife Gran Canaria, where Salva Maldonado picks up the inheritance of Luis Casimiro with the reinforcements of Strawberry, Tillie and Hannah. In addition to having an unfriendly opening in Istanbul against Fenerbahçe, the yellows will show that survive to the insularity that will take them to make 111,000 kilometers in flights in the first phase, almost 40,000 more than the second, Maccabi and, 55,000 less than Barça for example. "The island is far from everywhere. But we want people to keep a nice memory of this year. We will play without pressure, trying to surprise, "says Albert Oliver, who will debut in the Euroleague with 40 years -" the train was still waiting for me "-.
Among the perennial favorites to the title, the Fenerbahçe – which has lost Nunnally and Wanamaker and has been strengthened by Canadian base Tyler Ennis, number 18 of the draftof 2014 and with the French pivot Joffrey Lauvergne-, the CSKA -without the historic Victor Khryapa and with the outstanding reinforcements of the young Alec Peters and the battered Daniel Hackett- and the Olympiacos, now in the hands of David Blatt -that a new era begins with the classics Spanoulis, Printezis and Papanikolaou and a battery of additions: Toupane, Timma, Vezenkov, LeDay, Williams-Goss. For its part, the Zalgiris survives the success of the last course with the permanence of Jasikevicius on the bench as a great triumph in the summer market. The coach who took the Lithuanians to the Euroleague podium with one of the lowest budgets of the competition will no longer have Pangos (Barcelona), Toupane (Olympiacos) or Micic (Efes) but, in return, Leo Westermann returns from the CSKA and half a dozen reinforcements of proven solvency in teams of lower rank: Walkup, Ludwigsburg, Wolters, Chalon, Grigonis, former ACB and last year in Alba Berlin, Birutis and Sabeckis, Siauliai and Jokubaitis canterano.