Every season of top-flight European basketball begins with certain preconceived notions. There are those teams expected to fight for the title and others expected to bring up the rear. Of course, every season also provides plenty of surprises, teams that deviate from the expected path. It can be a team without stars and/or tradition that reels off victories to become a title contender. It can also be a big club that stumbles and falls to the back of the pack. These surprising teams are what make the 7DAYS EuroCup an exciting competition to follow every season. Behold, the top five surprising teams so far from the 2019-20 season.
5. Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana
What hasn't been a surprise about Olimpija's season? In the club's first season since the merger of the powerhouses from Croatia and Slovenia, it limped out of the gate and lost its first five games. However, Olimpija turned things around at the midway point and has won three in a row. Its Round 8 victory also gave Olimpija the tiebreak advantage over Germani Brescia Leonessa and with two games to go in the regular season, Coach Slaven Rimac's men are in the thick of the battle for a Top 16 berth. Codi Miller-McIntyre has been Olimpija's standout player and leads the team in scoring (15.1 ppg.), rebounds (5.0 rpg.), assists (4.0 apg.) and steals (1.8 apg.).
4. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar
Not all surprises can be pleasant ones. Lokomotiv is one of the winningest teams in EuroCup history, a former competition champion and has reached at least the quarterfinals in all six of its previous EuroCup campaigns. This season started with a road loss and Lokomotiv later suffered a four-game losing streak in the EuroCup for the first time in club history. With a 2-5 record, Lokomotiv was facing elimination and parted ways with Coach Luca Banchi before a Round 8 win against Limoges CSP. Now Lokomotiv is back in the running for a Top 16 berth thanks to the exploits of EuroCup-leading rebounder Alan Williams (9.0 rpg.), however, if Lokomotiv falls again and fails to advance for the first time, it would be a true EuroCup surprise.
3. EWE Baskets Oldenburg
After starting the season with three consecutive defeats, Oldenburg has won five in a row and already clinched its spot in the Top 16. It's been the club's finest run of form in its five EuroCup seasons, the most recent of which was back in the 2015-16 campaign. Oldenburg will travel to Spain for its Round 9 clash against Unicaja Malaga with a chance to challenge for the top spot in Group D, which would also mark a club first. Led by veteran Rickey Paulding (12.1 ppg.), center and triple-double threat Rasid Mahalbasic (13.4 ppg., 4.6 apg.), and midseason signing Tyler Larson, Oldenburg could be on the verge of a very special season.
2. Umana Reyer Venice
The Italian champion should not be underestimated, however, who would have expected Reyer to be the hottest team in the competition with two games to go in the regular season? Coach Walter De Raffaele's men have won six straight games and their 6-2 record is tied for the best in the EuroCup. Reyer sits atop Group B and has already clinched its spot in the next phase. The secret to the team's success has been balance; while no Reyer player is among the EuroCup leaders in any major statistical category, the team has five players averaging double figures in performance index rating. Austin Daye (13.4 ppg.) is Reyer's top scorer, Julyan Stone (5.7 rpg., 3.6 apg.) leads in rebounds and assists and Mitchell Watts has the highest PIR (14.6). This season has already been Reyer's best in the EuroCup and it can still get plenty better.
1. Promitheas Patras
In its first season in the EuroCup, Promitheas jumped out to a great start and never cooled down. It started with a blowout road win over Maccabi Rishon LeZion on opening night, rolled through a Round 3 victory over Segafredo Virtus Bologna and continued with it becoming one of the first teams to clinch a Top 16 berth. Coach Makis Giatras has his team tied for first place in Group D with a 6-2 record and in the thick of the battle to clinch the top spot, too. Promitheas's success has come without any household names, but the team's depth has seen five players averaging double figures in performance index rating, led by Octavius Ellis (15.6). Chris Babb (11.8 ppg.) leads the team in scoring, Ellis (5.7 rpg.) in rebounds and Langston Hall (6.0 apg.) in assists. Together, they have taken Promitheas on a wild ride and it won't be ending any time soon.