Eurocup Qualifying Round preview

Sep 22, 2011 by Print
One of the most exciting and intense weeks of the Eurocup season tips off this week as the competition hits the ground running with games of the utmost importance – the Eurocup Qualifying Round. Sixteen teams will clash in eight two-game, home-and-away, total-points series for tickets to the Eurocup Regular Season. The different series feature teams of differing backgrounds, ranging from last season’s semifinalist Cedevita Zagreb to debutants looking to make history in their respective countries like Norrkoping Dolphins of Sweden and Etha Engomis of Cyprus. Six of the series get started on Tuesday, with only Artland Dragons vs. Gran Canaria 2014 and Etha vs. Spartak St. Petersburg beginning Wednesday. All conclude on Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week, October 4-5.


Azovmash MariupolBK VentspilsBC Azovmash brings an assortment of accomplished stars to face an up-and-coming crew of BK Ventspils talents. Azovmash, which was one win from the Eurocup Last 16 a year ago, is stacked with reigning Eurocup champs Ricky Minard and Hasan Rizvic plus Rado Rancik, who ranked among the competition’s top three scorers and rebounders three years ago. Although veteran guard Bojan Bakic is Ventspils’s only notable player above age 25, the squad does not lack for talent with playmaker Janis Strelnieks, power forward Arturs Berzins and center Martins Meiers all due for breakout seasons.


Gran CanariaArtland DragonsGran Canaria 2014, the team with one of the greatest home-court records in Eurocup history, looks to add to its success against Artland Dragons, which aims to repeat its fabulous Eurocup debut season from just three years ago. Granca brings back many of the stars that helped it reach the Eurocup Last 16 a season ago, including stud big man Xavi Rey, defensive ace Michael Bramos and budding point guard sensation Tomas Bellas, among others. Likewise the Dragons have an experienced core returning and it’s eager to make a big run with center Darren Fenn, point guard Bryan Bailey and forward Nathan Peavy as main references.


Dexia Mons-HainautBesiktas JKDexia Mons-Hainaut wants what Besiktas JK has achieved in recent years – becoming a bona-fide Eurocup contender. Mons looks to make just its second Eurocup appearance, while Besiktas has become a regular and was a quarterfinalist in 2008. Mons added accomplished big man Warren Carter and playmaker Sean Taylor to the group that took last season’s Belgian Cup led by scorer Quincy Taylor and center Ahmad Nivens. Besiktas spared no price in building an attractive with the likes of Team USA point guard Deron Williams, veteran Euroleague swingman David Hawkins and Zoran Erceg among the big names aiming for a special season.


CedevitaElan ChalonCedevita is back where it started last season, in the Eurocup Qualifying Round, but French Cup winner Elan Chalon is also looking to make a name for itself. That won’t be easy when Cedevita boats reigning Eurocup MVP Dontaye Draper, three-time Euroleague champ Matjaz Smodis and accomplished scorer Chris Warren among its battery of big names. However with the savvy Steed Tchicamboud leading the way and the explosive talents of Blake Schilb and Malcolm Delaney alongside him, Chalon has what it takes to compete with the best.


Le Mans Sarthe BasketPinar KarsiyakaAfter narrowly missing the Eurocup quarterfinals last season, Le Mans looks to get off to a hot start this season, but will have to battle a tough opponent first in Pinar Karsiyaka, which targets a first appearance in the Eurocup. Le Mans is loaded with familiar names and faces, like point guard Antoine Diot, low-post threat J.P. Batista and swingman Alex Acker, plus rising star Charles Kahudi. Karsiyaka puts its fate in the hands of the Eurocup’s No. 3 all-time scorer, Mire Chatman, while veteran center Jovo Stanojevic and shooter Goran Ikonic will also shoulder the load of trying to bring Eurocup basketball back to Izmir.


BC Telenet OostendeNorrkoping DolphinsBC Telenet Oostende will try to restore its name as one of the top clubs in Belgium by reaching the Eurocup after several seasons away. However the goal for Norrkoping Dolphins is even greater – to help put Swedish basketball on the Eurocup map. Oostende pieced together an impressive roster with two former Euroleague champs, Thomas Van den Spiegel and Dusan Sakota, as well as playmaker Dusan Djordjevic and scorer Jason Rich. However whatever Norrkoping lacks in experience, it more than makes up for with energy. Point guard Andrew Mitchell and Swedish national team swingman Mikael Lindqvist are back to lead the team while Lester Prosper will be tested in the paint on the Dolphins’ quest for history.


Spartak St. PetersburgEtha EngomisSpartak is back in the Eurocup Qualifying Round after coming agonizingly short of success last season. Etha Engomis arrives to qualifying for the first time and eager to leave its mark for both the pride of the club and all of Cyprus. Spartak has a fully loaded roster with two former Euroleague champs, Yotam Halperin and Anatoly Kashirov, a rising star in Patrick Beverley and a tough low-post center in Loukas Mavrokefalides. The Cypriot champs come of a historic season and will look to the authors of that success, including power forward Valdas Dabkus and point guard Ken Tutt, to work their magic once more, with newcomers Mark Dawson and Patrick Okafor stepping up in the paint as well.


BK ProstejovLukoil AcademicThe very first game of the season pits one of the first European Cup finalists, Lukoil Academic Sofia, against a rising force from the Czech Republic, BK Prostejov. Academic was among the lions of the Eurocup in the middle of the past decade and is still a team of winners led by the likes of Todor Stoykov, who remains the Eurocup’s all-time scoring champ, and former Euroleague champ Bruno Sundov. Prostejov, which rebuilt much of its team after a brilliant campaign last year, turns to big man Travis Peterson, who came from Lukoil, and veteran playmaker Arvydas Eitutavicius.

Bracket QF Eurocup