There are only three teams in the 2017-18 7DAYS EuroCup that featured in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague last season and two of them – Darussafaka Istanbul and Unics Kazan – will compete in Group A. Unics is also one of five former EuroCup champs in the competition this season. Cedevita Zagreb is only two seasons removed from playing in the EuroLeague and is a former EuroCup semifinalist. With a new name and new look, Levallois Metropolitans will aim high, too. At the other end, MoraBanc Andorra and Fiat Turin are both EuroCup newcomers and after proving themselves in the Spanish and Italian Leagues, respectively, last season, will be looking to show how good they can be on the continental stage.
When the going gets tough, the teams of Group A have some sage veterans they can lean on. The well-known players sprinkled throughout the six teams in Group A are a testament to the quality of these teams. Cedevita point guard Roko Ukic is a former EuroLeague Final Four participant and forward Demetris Nichols won the EuroLeague in 2016 with CSKA Moscow. Darussafaka center Oguz Savas has 13 EuroLeague seasons under his belt. FIAT Turin’s backup point guard Davide Parente has been playing professionally since 2000! And shooting guard Sasha Vujacic returns to the competition for the first time since its maiden season in 2002-03 when he scored 12.2 points as a teenager for Snaidero Udine. Levallois Metropolitans boasts some of the most-experienced players in the entire competition. At age 38, guard Louis Campbell has practically seen it all, while big men Boris Diaw and Florent Pietrus are longtime French national team stalwarts with a host of medals. Veteran center Oliver Stevic of MoraBanc Andorra will play for his fifth different EuroCup team this season. And Stephane Lasme of Unics Kazan, who was the 2016 EuroCup Finals MVP after he led Galatasaray Istanbul to the crown, is a former EuroLeague Best Defender trophy winner, too.
Among five players aged 21 or younger on the Cedevita roster are two who could be major contributors this season, Marko Arapovic and Dzanan Musa. Arapovic continues to flourish as a modern stretch ‘4’ and elite offensive rebounder, while Musa, 18, has the talent to be a future scoring champ. At 2.16 meters, Darussafaka center Emircan Kosut has a chance to become a force in the middle. Turin big man David Okeke helped Team Italy win a silver medal at the 2019 World U-19 Championship over the summer and – with a season of top flight basketball already under his belt – could be a key contributor already this season. The Levallois Metropolitans crop of future stars includes center Petr Cornelie and Ivan Fevrier, the latter of whom was the EuroLeague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT MVP last season. Moussa Diagne put up strong numbers in the EuroCup last season when he was on loan from FC Barcelona Lassa to Montakit Fuenlabrada. A year older and back on loan, Diagne could be a factor inside for Andorra.
Group A has several teams with serous aspirations both domestically and continentally and thus went looking to add some big names over the summer. Will Cherry bolsters an already strong backcourt at Cedevita. Darussafaka forward JaJuan Johnson has put up big numbers at nearly every stop in his career. Trevor Mbakwe was one of the top rebounders in the EuroCup just three seasons ago with Brose Bamberg and will try to duplicate that production in his first season with Turin. Though Levallois Metropolitans may have struck deals with some bigger names than Klemen Prepelic, the scorer played a big role in Slovenia’s march to the EuroBasket gold medal over the summer and will look to keep his momentum going in the French capital. Jaka Blazic has spent the past six seasons in the EuroLeague and averaged double figures in points in two of those, so he could become the go-to guy now at Andorra. Unics signed reigning EuroCup champion Jamar Smith to help fill the shoes of last season’s Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy winner Keith Langford and he could become a scoring fixture there, too.
The experience and accomplishments of the veterans in these teams, the untapped potential of the youngest contributors and the quality of the players who joined over the summer attest to just how strong the EuroCup has become. Darussafaka and Unics both played in the EuroLeague last season and – with so many of their players back – are among the early favorites to finish atop Group A. Cedevita, a former EuroCup semifinalist, was in the EuroLeague just two seasons ago. Andorra, Levallois and Turin do not share the recent experience of the aforementioned teams, but all have lofty goals, too. All signs point to the race for both the top spot in Group A as well as the last spots for the Top 16 going down to the final rounds.