Euroleague of European Stars – Part II

16 October 2013

EUROLEAGUE

13. Ender Arslan (Turkey)
Galatasaray fans will be hoping that Ender Arslan has recovered from the injury that saw him miss out on a summer with the Turkish national team

The Regular Season of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague tips off this week and sees a galaxy of players who took part at EuroBasket or in the youth European Championships this summer return to action.

In the second part of our preview we take a look at the teams and the European stars that will compete in Group C and Group D of the Euroleague's first phase, starting from Wednesday.

 

GROUP C

Two-time defending Euroleague champions Olympiacos Piraeus will not deviate significantly from their successful game plan, despite the fact that some key pieces to their puzzle departed for new pastures in the summer.

Star guard Vasilis Spanoulis will once again be the focal point of the team with fellow Greek internationals Giorgos Printezis, Stratos Perperoglou, Vaggelis Mantzaris and Dimitris Katsivelis as the supporting cast.

Slovenian international Mirza Begic, fresh off an excellent showing at his nation's home EuroBasket, will add size in the paint and the club have also recruited two talented players from the Greek U20 national team in small forward Ioannis Papapetrou and power forward Dimitris Agravanis.

Reigning Turkish BEKO Ligi champions Galatasaray Liv Hospital rely on a good mix of established and up-and-coming Turkish internationals in all positions.

Guards Ender Ar

slan and Sinan Guler provide plenty of experience in the backcourt and are flanked by Cenk Akyol and Hüseyin Köksal, while Georgian international Manuchar Markoishvili, who joined the club midway through last season, returns to Turkey after a solid display at EuroBasket 2013.

Galatasaray can count on their inside game with the Serbian duo of Zoran Erceg and Milan Macvan, both of whom were absent from the recent EuroBasket, as well as with up-and-coming Turkish big man Furkan Aldemir, who could have a break-out season on international level this year.

Italian champions Montepaschi Siena base a big part of their hopes on point guard Daniel Hackett, the MVP of the domestic play-off finals last season, but was later absent from the EuroBasket due to injury.

Former Italian international Tomas Ress and two naturalised players of American origin, Taylor Rochestie of Montenegro and Spencer Nelson of Azerbaijan, form a trio of battle-hardened veterans for Siena.

Meanwhile Austria will have representation in the Euroleague through 30-year-old forward/center Benjamin Ortner, who returns to Siena this season.

Polish league champions Stelmet Zielona Gora have several experienced players on their roster to help them navigate their maiden season in the Euroleague.

National team captain Lukasz Koszarek is one of three players on the team that competed with Poland at EuroBasket 2013, alongside center Adam Hrycaniuk and winger Przemyslaw Zamojski.

Young forward Maciej Kucharek, who suited up for Poland in last year's U20 European Championship will get his first taste of the big stage while two more players that represented their nation at U20 level, fellow Polish Kamil Chanas and Frenchman Aaron Cel are also on the Zielona Gora team.

Spanish club Unicaja Malaga have recruited two players who made their debut with their respective senior national team at EuroBasket 2013, in Lithuanian silver-medalist Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Serbian center Vladimir Stimac.

They have also retained the services of one of the stars of the EuroBasket, Slovenian winger Zoran Dragic, and promoted to their senior team the pillar of the U18 Lithuanian side, Domantas Sabonis, who will get his first taste of the Europe's biggest club competition.

Former Spanish international Fran Vazquez together with a trio of veterans that represented Spain at junior level in Sergi Vidal, Txemi Urtasun and Carlos Suarez, who joined from Real Madrid this summer, form the Spanish backbone of Malaga.

The meteoric rise of Bayern Munich in European basketball has been rewarded with a first ever participation in the Euroleague, but the German club have plenty of seasoned internationals in their ranks to steer them through uncharted territory.

The captain of the German national team, Heiko Schaffartzik, headlines a group of current and former German internationals.

Forward Robin Benzing and guard Lucca Steiger played for Germany alongside Schaffartzik at EuroBasket 2013, while the recently retired from international duty, Steffen Hamann and Demond Greene provide extra punch in the backcourt.

Coach Svetislav Pesic can also count on members of the next generation of German basketball in U20 internationals Mauricio Marin and Paul Zipser, while Bayern also recruited this summer Bosnia And Herzegovina star Nihad Dedovic from rivals Alba Berlin.

 

GROUP D

Renaldas Seibutis, Lietuvos Rytas
Renaldas Seibutis is a welcome returnee to Lietuvos Rytas

Renaldas Seibutis has returned to Vilnius with a EuroBasket silver medal hanging around his neck and will lead Lietuvos Rytas into another Euroleague season.

He will have plenty of support from fellow wingman Martynas Gecevicius, who was the last player to be cut from the Lithuanian squad prior to EuroBasket and has returned to his home club after a stint at Olympiacos.

The most prestigious addition to the Vilnius roster is EuroBasket 2003 champions Darius Songaila, who returns to his home country and the Euroleague at the age of 35.

The club from the Lithuanian capital, who are coached by Polish national team boss and EuroBasket 2005 silver medal-winner (with his home nation Germany) Dirk Bauermann, have also secured the services of experienced Serbian guard Milenko Tepic, a EuroBasket 2009 silver medallist.

At the other end of the spectrum, Vilnius have in their ranks a group of players who represented Lithuania at youth level and hope to make it at senior level in the near future, including 23-year-olds Eimantas Bendzius and Gediminas Orelik, 21-year-old Dovydas Redikas and 18-year-old Edvinas Seskus.

Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv's block of Israeli internationals has been reduced compared to recent years but coach David Blatt can still count on three players who suited up for Israel at EuroBasket 2013.

Winger Guy Pnini and point guard Yogev Ohayon are old hands in Tel Aviv while center Alexander Tyus, who was one of the most unlucky players at EuroBasket 2013 as he had to depart the tournament after just two days due to injury, joined the Israeli champions this summer.

Former Greek international Sofoklis Schortsianitis has returned for a second stint at the club while fellow big man Ben Altit, who played for Israel at the U20 European Championship this summer, along with 19-year-old guard Arad Harari, are two Israeli young players who will be looking to gain valuable experience this season.

Veteran center Rasko Katic put in some excellent performances at EuroBasket 2013 to help a youthful Serbia side clinch seventh place and he will play a similar role at Red Star Belgrade in the Euroleague.

Two former Serbian internationals, power forward Ivan Radenovic and big man Boban Marjanovic will also provide experience in the frontcourt but the core of the Belgrade team is made up of young players.

At the age of 23, Slovenian international Jaka Blazic had a promising showing at EuroBasket 2013, his first major tournament with the national team, and he can now serve as an example to a group of five younger teammates at Red Star.

The group of promising Serbian players is made up of forward Luka Mitrovic, who led the U20 Serbia team in last summer's European Championship, 20-year-old point guard Aleksandar Cvetkovic and a trio of 18-year-old talents in Nikola Rebic, Marko Tejic and Dusan Ristic.

At EuroBasket 2013, point guard Thomas Heurtel combined his first ever tournament with the senior French national team with the country's first ever gold medal and he will have an upgraded role this year at Laboral Kutxa Vitoria.

One of the pillars of the Basque team will be once again 29-year-old Spanish international Fernando San Emeterio, fresh off bronze medal success with the national team at EuroBasket.

Daniel Clark (Great Britain)
Daniel Clark had a promising individual summer for Great Britain, depsite a disappointing overall result for his nation

Great Britain captain Daniel Clark and 20-year-old fellow Brit Devon Van Oostrum provided excellent individual displays in Slovenia, despite their team's early exit. This form will have been a delight to the eyes of Laboral Kutxa Vitoria fans.

David Jelinek of the Czech Republic, Thomas Kelati of Poland and Tibor Pleiss of Germany are in a similar situation to the two Brits, the latter averaging a double-double of 11.6 points and 11 rebounds at EuroBasket.

Fabien Causer, who suited up for France at the 2010 World Championship and the 2012 London Olympics, along with the star of the Hungarian national team, Adam Hanga, who is nursing an injury and will return to action later in the season, will provide Vitoria with fire power from the shooting guard spot.

Italian coach Sergio Scariolo, who steered Spain to the top of the podium at both EuroBasket 2009 and EuroBasket 2011, returns to the helm of Laboral Kutxa after almost 15 years.

Two of the guards that impressed at EuroBasket 2013, Lithuania's Mantas Kalnietis and Croatia's Krunoslav Simon, will join forces this year at Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.

Apart from EuroBasket silver-medallist Kalnietis, the Russian club also have in their ranks former Lithuanian international in veteran winger Simas Jasaitis.

Russian international Sergey Bykov, a EuroBasket 2007 gold medallist who however missed out at the recent EuroBasket in Slovenia, provides further experience in the backcourt.

Two promising players who gained international experience playing with the Russian national team at youth level, 22-year-old Andrey Zubkov and 19-year-old Igor Kanygin, are poised to make their debut in the Euroleague this season with Kuban.

Former Euroleague champions Panathinaikos are hoping to return to the Final Four of the competition this year based on an interesting mix of experience and youth.

Greek legend Dimitris Diamantidis and the captain of the Greek national team Antonis Fotsis, who returns for a third spell at the club, are the two players on the Athens roster to have won EuroBasket gold, in 2005.

Lithuanian forward Jonas Maciulis however is the one who can boast of the most recent success, as he averaged 8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds-per-game to help his nation clinch the silver medal at EuroBasket 2013.

Croatian national team captain Roko Leni Ukic must also be full of confidence, as his country reached the semi-finals in Slovenia after an 18-year absence.

Senior Greek international Loukas Mavrokefalidis as well as Nikos Pappas and Vlantimir Giankovits, who won European gold with Greece at U20 level, joined Panathinaikos this summer, while fellow Greek international Michael Bramos returns for a second season at the domestic league champions.

Meanwhile two of the most promising young Greek players, 18-year-old Georgios Diamantakos and 16-year-old Vasileios Charalampopoulos, are also on the books of Panathinaikos and could get their first taste of Euroleague basketball this year.

 


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