Cedevita Zagreb narrowly missed reaching the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 after playing a strong regular season, which included road wins at reigning champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and ALBA Berlin. Now Coach Jasmin Repesa turns his team’s attention to the Eurocup, where it will compete in the Last 32 for the second season in a row. The Croatian champs built their attack around center Miro Bilan dominating in the paint, Fran Pilepic drilling three-pointer and point guards Roko Ukic and Nemanja Gordic carving up defenses and finding the open man. The anticipated return of Marko Tomas from injury only strengthens an already deep perimeter game. With a healthy lineup, Cedevita will look to go deep and threaten its best ever Eurocup campaign, a semifinals appearance in 2011.
Virtus Rome won six of its first seven Eurocup games to punch its ticket to the Last 32 early. The club from the Italian capital went on to win Group C with a 7-3 record. Rome was undefeated at home. Coach Luca Dalmonte rolled with his stars and got plenty back in return. Point guard Brandon Triche was the Round 1 and Round 3 MVO, while Kyle Gibson and Bobby Jones also led the attack. Jordan Morgan was among the regular season’s top rebounders and sixth man Rok Stipcevic provided scoring and leadership off the bench. Rome ranked among the Eurocup’s top five regular season teams in performance index rating, scoring, three-pointers made and offensive rebounds, which is a fantastic recipe to go far in the Eurocup.
Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd
After a rough start, which featured back-to-back losses at home and a coaching change, Eurocup debutant Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd won four of its last five regular season games to place third in Group E with a 6-4 record. Coach Dirk Bauermann’s arrival and the return of point guard Randy Culpepper turned Oktyabr’s fortunes around quickly. Culpepper was the second-best scorer in the regular season and forward Romeo Travis was among the leaders in performance index rating. The team held opponents to just 64.7 points per game in its last three home games, which if it repeated in the Last 32 would make Oktyabr virtually unbeatable on its own floor. Recent signing Rick Jackson will give the team more muscle inside as Oktyabr looks to keep its momentum going.
CAI Zaragoza enters the Last 32 on a three-game winning streak. The Spanish club finished the regular season with a 5-5 record and claimed fourth place in tough Group A, where two wins separated fifth place from second place. CAI is a deep squad with five players averaging at least 9 points per game and seven averaging at least 9 in performance index rating. Forwards Chris Goulding and Stevan Jelovac have been the top scorers for Coach Joaquin Ruiz, while point guard Pedro Llompart ran the offense efficiently and ranked third in the regular season in assists. CAI was among the top four teams in the regular season in scoring, three-point shooting, assist-to-turnover ratio and performance index rating, which bodes well for its chances in the Last 32.