Eurocup Regular Season, Group F analysis

Nov 02, 2011 by Print
Azovmash Mariupol
KRKA Novo Mesto
Le Mans Sarthe Basket
Lietuvos Rytas
Rado Rancic - BC Azovmash (Photo: BC Azovmash)
Rado Rancik
An efficient center in his fourth Eurocup season, JP Batista is Le Mans' main reference in the paint. His solid post skills, effective mid-range jumpers and team-oriented attitude helps Le Mans in many ways. Batista reached the Eurocup final with L. Rytas in 2007 and has the chance to face his former team in this year's Eurocup regular season. Rado Rancik is set to play his fifth consecutive Eurocup season with four different teams - Nymburk, Benetton, Galatasaray and now Azovmash. An all-time top 20 scorer in competition history, Rancik will offer one-on-one skills, intensity and outstanding winning mentality.
JP Batista - Le Mans (Photo: Le Mans)
J.P. Batista
Jonas Valanciunas - Lietuvos Rytas (Photo: Lietuvos Rytas)
Jonas Valanciunas
Already one of the most popular players in Lithuanian basketball, Lietuvos Rytas center Jonas Valanciunas makes his Eurocup debut ready to showcase his skills. An outstanding defensive player, Valanciunas rebounds really well at both ends and has great timing to block shots. Still a developing player in offense, Valanciunas gets better every day to become a dominant force in the paint. Just as Valanciunas, small forward Edo Muric had the chance to shine at EuroBasket 2011. Aggressive and ready, Muric has good one-on-one skills, always plays for intensity and will see extended playing time this season.
Edo Muric - KRKA Novo Mesto (Photo: Adriatic League)
Edo Muric
Le Mans kept a core of players from last season but added several key pieces trying to get even better. Point guard Taylor Rochestie is Le Mans' new floor general, but the club also landed big men Marcellus Sommerville and William Coleman to add more power in the paint. As usual, L. Rytas was one of the first teams to complete its roster in the entire continent, putting together a full team in mid-June. L. Rytas bolstered its frontcourt with Predrag Samardziski, Mindaugas Katelynas or Lawrence Roberts, added German League MVP Tyrese Rice at point guard and scoring ace Ronnie Seibutis. Azovmash also rebuilt its roster with playmakers Joe Crispin and Daniel Ewing, off-guard Ricky Minard or big men Rancik, Vladimir Golubovic or Hasan Rizvic, back in Mariupol after winning the Eurocup with Unics. Krka brought in shot blocking ace Jerome Jordan, sharp shooter Jimmy Baxter and guard Curtis Stinson as its main additions.
All four teams showed their power in recent seasons and will need a strong start to avoid troubles right away. L. Rytas won the competition twice and is the main candidate to survive Group F. Its depth, talent and fan base give L. Rytas an edge over its opponents - but that needs to be proved on the court and no opponent is easy in this group. Rice, Seibutis, Valanciunas and Samardziski are a strong core of players ready to deliver right away. Azovmash is on its fifth consecutive Eurocup season and has all it takes - experience, talent, strong support at home - to reach deep in the competition. Azovmash is also a deep team that can find many alternatives in offense, making the team unpredictable and very dangerous. Le Mans made it to the Last 16 in each of the last two seasons and will not be an easy opponent, as players like Batista, Antoine Diot, Alex Acker or Charles Kahudi know what it takes to survive the regular season. A Eurocup finalist in 2003, Krka won the the Slovenian League and the EuroChallenge last season but had to rebuild its team this summer. It will need to be strong at Novo Mesto, starting with its opening game against L. Rytas, in what promises to be a good test for both teams.