Group A Preview– Regal FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena, Cibona, Fenerbahce Ulker, Zalgiris, Asvel Basket
Best Team: Regal FC Barcelona: In my honest opinion Group A looks to have two classes: Barcelona and everyone else. Barcelona made the Final Four last year behind the best player in this group and reigning Euroleague MVP Juan Carlos Navarro. No one in the group can really match their talent as they probably have the best backcourt and frontcourt in the group with Navarro and Jaka Lakovic as the guards and Pete Micheal, David Anderson, and Fran Vazquez up front.
Surprise Team: Fenerbahce Ulker: If the young players on Fenerbahce Ulker such as Ogus Savas, Semih Erden, Omer Asik, and Emir Preldzic can finally reach their potential then they could be the sleeper team of this group. This group is pretty weak and Ulker has so much talent, it just needs to find a way to play together instead of everyone playing so inconsistently. With a healthy Gordan Giricek and Mirsad Turkcan controlling the paint, Ulker just needs two of the fore mentioned young players to step up for the team to succeed.
Those are the best teams but the best player in the group is:
Best Player: Juan Carlos Navarro, Regal FC Barcelona: It’s hard to argue against the Euroleague MVP not being the best player in this group, which is why I’m not going to do it. With his deadly outside shooting and floater in the lane, JCN is too quick and too good of scorer for almost any Euroleague defender to try and stop. Look for him again to have a monster year after his transition year back from the NBA.
Best Young Player: Emir Preldzic, Fenerbahce Ulker: Is he a scorer, a point forward, or a point guard? Who knows but Emir Preldzic is a ball player. He fit into any role Fenerbahce gave him last year and flourished at the end of the season as the team’s primary ball handler and distributor. Look for him to build on that role this year as he meshes his driving ability with his court vision and breaks out.
Overall Preview: As I look into my crystal ball I see Siena, Cibona, and Ulker joining Barcelona to make up the top 4 that advance. Zalgiris is losing too many players and Asvel is brand new to the Euroleague for either team to make too much of an impact. Barcelona went 9-1 in the regular season last year and it wouldn’t surprise me if they repeated that number. Cibona will rely on its Croatian players to win and Siena could be losing Terrell McIntyre and Rimantas Kaukenas, which will be there two best outside scorers from last year. I don’t expect Siena to make it to the Playoffs again with those loses but they should make the Top 16. Overall Barcelona should dominate this group but don’t sleep on Fenerbahce.