Group A analysis

Sep 21, 2015 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Group A analysis

Regular Season Group A features six teams from five countries; Germany is the sole nation with two representatives in EWE Baskets Oldenburg and Telekom Baskets Bonn. Italy’s Dolomiti Energia Trento is the sole newcomer in the group, while Dominion Bilbao Basket of Spain, the 2013 Eurocup finalist, boasts the strongest pedigree in the group. Not to be overlooked are Union Olimpija Ljubljana of Slovenia, a longtime Euroleague regular which will play its third straight Eurocup campaign, and France’s JSF Nanterre, which did reach the Eurocup Eighthfinals two seasons ago after starting the year in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, but now starts a season in the Eurocup for the first time.

Raul Lopez - Bilbao Basket - EC13 (photo Aitor Arrizabalaga - Bilbao Basket)

OLD PROS

Dominion Bilbao Basket can rely on veteran playmaker and former Eurocup winner Raul Lopez to make the difference yet again this season. At age 35, Lopez will still be among the best point guards in the competition. Alex Mumbru, who turns 37 next June, will also be critical for Bilbao's success this season. You cannot really think about EWE Baskets Oldenburg without mentioning Rickey Paulding, who enters his ninth season with the club. Paulding is set to play his sixth Eurocup season, too. Union Olimpija Ljubljana signed Sasa Zagorac, who last played the Eurocup with Superfund Kapfenberg in the 2004-05 season. At age 31, this is a new start for Zagorac. Tadas Klimavicius should be a rock-solid option for Telekom Baskets Bonn in the paint. Klimavicius will be 33 when the Eurocup season starts, but he looks ready to keep delivering.

YOUNG GUNS

Mam Jaiteh is one of the most interesting young players in Europe. He is strong, athletic and getting better every day; Jaiteh hopes to make the difference in the paint for JSF Nanterre with a leading role despite being only 20 years old. Telekom Bonn inked rookie forward Aaron White - an all-around scorer with great upside, who is set to make his professional debut in the Eurocup. Union Olimpija expects a lot from young guns Luka Rupnik and Miha Lapornik, two ambitious players with a lot to show. Bilbao managed to keep Dejan Todorovic, who is a very interesting young forward with outstanding athleticism and a great work ethic. Todorovic will likely see more playing time for Bilbao this season.

Luka Rupnik - Union Olimpija - EB12

KEY SIGNINGS

Dolomiti Energia Trento reloaded its roster by bringing in known players like playmaker Peppe Poeta, big man Julian Wright and Luca Lechthaler, as well as versatile forwards Dominique Sutton and Trent Lockett. Bilbao fortified its frontcourt with Georgios Bogris, Alex Suarez and Shawn James in addition to combo guard Clevin Hannah. Oldenburg added firepower with guards Vaughn Duggins and Scott Machado and signed veteran big man Robin Smeulders and center Brian Qvale. Nanterre made sure to count on an electric backcourt with the addition of Gerald Robinson, who was one of the best scorers in the Eurocup last season, and will team up with playmaker T.J. Campbell. White is a main addition for Oldenburg, which also landed combo guard Michal Chylinski, who is at the prime of his career. Olimpija found a reliable floor general in Zack Wright and added more experience with Zagorac and Ronalds Zakis.

LOWDOWN

As always, being strong at home will be mandatory for everyone. Bilbao, a Eurocup finalist in 2013, seems to be the team to beat in this group as it has a core of players who have been together for a while and added valuable frontcourt players with the goal to be even better next season. Nanterre won the EuroChallenge last season and made sure it stayed competitive for a bigger challenge in the Eurocup. Olimpija advanced past the regular season in each of the last two seasons and that will be its initial goal yet again this time – to reach the Last 32 and take it from there. Always competitive and ready, Olimpija will be a tough opponent against anyone, anywhere. Oldenburg is back to the Eurocup for the third consecutive season. Despite a combined 9-11 regular season record over the last two years, Oldenburg did not get past the regular season, which will be the prime goal for the German powerhouse. Trento makes its Eurocup debut and will be a tough opponent out there, just like Bonn, which starts its seventh Eurocup season with great ambition.