This year’s event in Berlin, Germany has seen 4 high quality teams qualify for
the final tournament. With world class talent on hand, the competition is expected
to be as good as it’s ever been. Battling through not only the tough schedule
of their domestic leagues, but also the long Euroleague season, these 4 teams
have made it to the end and will now battle for the ultimate crown. Another significant
fact is that the tournament has sold out, which will be a good measuring stick
to see if the O2 Arena has true potential to one day be the home of an NBA franchise.
The eyes of the powers are always watching and having things run smoothly will
be another positive step in the globalization process of the NBA.
Regal FC Barcelona vs CSKA Moscow 6PM (CET)
Olympiacos vs Panathinaikos 9PM (CET)
Loser Semifinal vs Loser Semifinal 5PM (CET)
Winner Semifinal vs Winner Semifinal 8 PM (CET)
REGAL FC BARCELONA
After a fairly easy run through the group stage and
the final 16 (14-2 through 2 stages), Barcelona found themselves in a heated battle
in the Final 8 with country rival Tau Ceramica. Going back and forth from the
start, Barcelona had to win two in a row to close out the best of 5 series.
Bringing a good mix of size and versatility, Barca is not only a very dangerous
team, but one that has many intriguing players who could easily be sporting NBA
jerseys in the near future. The most famous is Juan Carlos Navarro, who after
a short stint in Memphis decided to go back to his native country. While he struggled
adjusting to the style, he had shown enough potential to continue progressing
at the top level. In the EL, Navarro has proven to be one of the most dangerous
scorers and has at times singlehandedly carried his team.
In terms of drafted players, Ersan Ilyasova and Fran Vazquez have both had very
solid seasons and are definitely players to keep an eye on. The young Bosnian
Nihad Dedovic is on the roster, but it is very unlikely that he will get an opportunity
to play. He has spent much of the season playing for Cornella (3rd division team)
as a result he has only played in 3 EL games, so getting time in the Final 4 is
unrealistic. With all that said, he has been on the radar for some time, and he
has a chance to get drafted in the 2nd round once he decides to enter. Barca also
has other draft prospects in Mamadou Samb and Xavier Rabaseda, but neither of
them has played this year in the EL.
Speculations have been swirling all season around CSKA
coach Ettora Messina and the possibility that he will take the reins of an NBA
team, but amidst all the distractions, he has led his team back to the Final 4,
for an opportunity to win the tournament 2 years in a row. Even while fighting
through injuries to some of their key contributors, CSKA was able to easily dismantle
all of its opposition and are now at full strength and ready to defend their title.
Their talent pool is extremely deep, however, their players are more geared towards
a Euro style of play and they would not fare well in the physically and athletically
superior NBA. Household names such as JR Holden, Trajan Langdon, Ramunas Siskauskas,
Zoran Planinic, Erazem Lorbek, Viktor Khryapa and Terence Morris form one very
tough and experienced roster.
The player on their roster who has a good chance to get drafted in the next few
years is Alexey Shved. The young Russian has made a name for himself through international
play in the junior ranks. Unfortunately, he has not been able to show much on
the senior level because of the fact that the experience and talent ahead of him
is so great. He may have been better off playing for a lesser team and displaying
his skills on a regular basis, but the daily battles that he goes through in practice
may be even more beneficial in the long run. Unfortunately, he has only played
in 3 EL games all season, so the possibility of him playing this weekend is very
The idea of prying rotation NBA players through big contracts
has been a hit and miss situation for Olympiacos. On one hand they have found
themselves in the prestigious Final 4 and on the other hand their two studs, Josh
Childress and Jannero Pargo (who joined later in the season) have struggled throughout
the year (putting up much lower numbers than they did last season in the NBA).
This goes to show that European basketball is a different type of beast and just
because a player was effective in the NBA, it does not necessarily translate to
the style found overseas.
Even with the limited contributions from Childress and Pargo, Olympiacos is so
deep that it had very little trouble overcoming. Losing only once in the round
of 16 and then dismantling Real Madrid in 4 games in the Final 8. They have played
fairly well all year, and if Childress can put it together at the end, they might
have as good of a chance as anyone to take the crown.
Among the main contributors are Ioannis Bourousis, Lynn Greer, Nikola Vujcic,
Yotam Halperin and Theodoros Papaloukas. An intriguing prospect is Georgios Printezis,
who has averaged 9 points and 4 rebounds while shooting an extremely efficient
65% from 2FG and 50% from 3 PT. His rights are owned by the Toronto Raptors and
this year’s play might have earned him a chance to take his game to the big leagues.
Milos Teodosic is draft eligible this year, but even though he has gotten substantial
amount of playing time, he has struggled shooting the ball and has not show much
else other than being a spot up shooter (not a very good one at that).
Only hitting few minor bumps along the road, Panathinaikos
was able to get through the EL fairly unscathed. The combination of size, athleticism,
experience and outside shooting gives them as good of a chance to win it all as
Sarunas Jasikevicius, Mike Batiste, Dimitrios Diamantidis, Vassilis Spanoulis
and Drew Nicholas are all extremely important pieces to Coach Zeljko Obradovic’s
puzzle. While they may not have the necessary tools to make an impact at the NBA
level, these guys are all proven talents who are moulded to fit the Euro style
that Obradovic preaches.
Nikola Pekovic is a 2nd round pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves and has had an
extremely efficient and effective season in the EL. In just over 18 minutes per
game, he averaged 13 points and 4 rebounds, while shooting 64% from the field.
He may lack the explosiveness of a prototypical NBA 4 man, but with his strength
and touch around the basket, he might have a chance to crack a roster in the near
An intriguing draft prospect is Giorgi Shermadini of Georgia. Born in 1989 and
standing a legit 7 feet, he made a midseason move to the Greek power but has not
been able to find much success in terms of playing time. He is very raw in terms
of low post skills and his mobility is somewhat limited, but under the tutelage
of Obradovic, Shermadini still has a chance to come around before his draft window