This weekend the Euroleague enters it’s final stage, the European Final Four, to be held at the Plais Omni Sport Complex in Paris, France. A great venue and city for such a competition. Every NBA team will have representatives in attendance and NBADraft.net has 4, covering the men’s and (1992 and under) junior events. Junior Tournament Rosters. The junior event kicks off on Thursday afternoon. The main event will be broadcast on NBATV beginning Friday at Noon ET.
FC Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Olympiacos Athens and Partizan Belgrade.
On Friday Barcelona takes on CSKA Moscow while Olympiacos Athens faces Partizan Belgrade. The winners will square off on Sunday in the final while the two losers will play a consolation match.
Barcelona features Europe’s brightest young star in Ricky Rubio, who at the tender age of 19, has proven this year, that he can be the leader of even a veteran team like Barca. The 2009 top 5 pick, Rubio started all 24 games this year and led his team to an unexpected return to Europe’s biggest stage. Barca is loaded and is considered to be the favorite to win the event. Aside from Rubio, whom NBA teams surely will be intently watching due to his contract status with Minnesota, Barca features a who’s who collection of Europe’s best ballers. They include Juan Carlos "La Bomba" Navarro blessed NBA courts for a few seasons, Fran Vasquez who spurned the NBA despite being a (Orlando Magic) lottery pick. Erazem Lorbek is becoming one of Europe’s best inside forces. With Euro superstars like Jaka Lakovic, Boniface N’Dong and Roger Grimau boosting the strong bench. Barcelona had no problem getting here and since their star Navarro has already won this thing, we consider them to be the favorite.
CSKA went through some changes this year. They departed ways with famous Coach Ettore Messina and some of their elite players. The cornerstones of their successful teams are still intact. Ramunas Siskauskas, Trajan Langdon, Taj Holden, Viktor Khryapa, and Zoran Planinic are studs, but can the bench anchored by NBA grown Pops Mensah Bonsuh and some younger players pick up enough momentum to prevail? CSKA really has no player for NBA teams to concentrate on at this point in time, but their veterans have won this thing before and are always able to pull an upset in any given game.
The darkhorse in this years edition is Partizan Belgrade. Despite annually losing young stars to bigger European clubs, Partizan has done the unthinkable. With arguably the weakest roster by their standards throughout the past year, they advanced the furthest. This time even to the biggest stage. NBA teams will have their eyes peeled on Jan Vesely, for next year, (he did not enter this year’s draft) the surefire lottery pick that turned down the NBA this year. Comparing Partizan to their rivals here makes them the Cinderella. There are no flat out stars on their roster, just a bunch of in sync role-players giving all out effort all the time. Considering their win the week before last against Cibona on a miraculous last second shot, anything appears to be possible for them. We consider them the biggest longshot, especially since they feed off of their arena Pinoir and their raucous fans for most of their games all year. Their core supporters were promised 4,000 tickets by the club but when they were only offered 2,500, they declined them, so the clubs core rowdy fan base will not be present, further dampening their hopes.
Olympiacos is the pride of Greece this year, closing out mighty Panathinaikos for the Final Four spot. Olympiacos is loaded with former Euroleague MVP Paploukas manning the point, former NBA stars Linus Kleiza and Josh Childress improving every game, NBA hopefuls Sofokles "Greek Shaq" Schortsianitis and Ionnas Bourousis manning the pivot and some other veterans like Nicola Vujicic, Scoonie Penn and Yotan Halperin closing out a stacked roster. NBA scouts could get a chance to take a look at small forward prospect Kostas Papanikolaou, but the odds of seeing him play much at this stage are slim, due to the intensity and closeness of games usually seen here.