Group D Preview – Panathinaikos, Real Madrid, Armani Jeans Milano, Asseco Prokom, BC Khimki Moscow Region, EWE Baskets Oldenburg
Best Team – Panathinaikos: The Triple Crown Winner (Greek Regular Season, Greek Champions, Euroleague Champions) is primed for another run at the title. The Greens infused some young talent into their veteran team with the likes of Nick Calathes and Milenko Tepic joining the fold. Both Calathes and Tepic are very young players who look to have very bright futures ahead of them as they are very skilled passers and scorers. Panathinaikos still has their devastating 1-2 combo on the inside in Nikola Pekovic and Mike Batiste who can both score on anyone. The strength of this team though is in their guards as Vissilis Spanoulis, Dimitris Diamantidis, Drew Nicholas, Stratos Perperoglou, Calathes, and Tepic are all highly talented players. Panathinaikos has too much depth for any other team in this group to keep up with.
Surprise Team – BC Khimki Moscow: While I have said throughout these previews that buyer beware of these new teams to the Euroleague, Khimki is different. They have been attracting a lot of talent to their team this offseason with the signing of point guards Carlos Cabezas and Raul Lopez to run their offense. Khimki has two superb scorers in Carlos Delfino and Jorge Garbajosa who can both shoot lights out. Look for Khimki to play an exciting brand of basketball and score a lot of points this season.
Best Player – Nikola Pekovic, Panathinaikos: Itwas very hard to pick the best player in the group with the likes of Spanoulis, Diamantidis, Felipe Reyes, Mike Hall, and Carlos Delfino; but when it came down to it Pekovic is the most dominating player in the group. There is barely anyone in the Euroleague that can guard him because of how strong and assertive he is on the offensive end. His only problem is his conditioning as he tends to wear down in games. If he can come into this season in great shape then the sky is the limit for him as he has a great post game that is impossible to stop when he has his motor going.
Best Young Player – Sergio Llull, Real Madrid: The love fest for Segio Llull continues on Euroleague Adventures and we can’t help it. Llull was so productive as Madrid’s starting point guard last year that it can’t be overstated how much better the team player under him. He is a sparkplug scorer who can put up points in bunches but also has the ability to dish in traffic. Llull can finish at the rim with authority and I only look for him to grow as a basketball player once his skill catches up to his athleticism.
Overall Summary: This is clearly the second best group after Group C and it looks to be very competitive every night for the teams of Group D. The reigning champion will have some competition from the very good Madrid team with their inside-outside combo of Lull and Felipe Reyes, AJ Milano with their fast paced attack, the always steady Prokom, and the exciting newcomers in Khimki. All of the groups look to be good but this is Slam’s personal favorite group and I can’t wait to see all of these games when I am over in Madrid.