Group C Preview- CSKA Moscow, Tau Ceramica, Maccabi Electra, Virtus Roma, Union Olimpija, Qualifier
Best Team - CSKA Moscow: Even though they are cutting salary and losing players, CSKA Moscow is still the top dog in this group. They bring their core players back with Trajon Langdon, JR Holden, Matjaz Smodis, Ramunas Siskauskas, Erazem Lorbek, and Victor Kryhapa. Those are seven starter quality players and while some of them may be getting older they are still very skilled. Siskauskas can still be relied upon (as we saw in the Final Four) to carry the scoring load at any point during a game. Moscow may have lost their coach and are cutting down salary but they still retain their core from seven straight Final Four appearances and that is enough for me to pick them as my best team.
Surprise Team – Maccabi Electra: I know what you’re thinking here is that Slam is picking his guilty pleasure team but you are wrong. Yes last year I thought Maccabi had a chance to win it all and I was wrong but this year is different. This will be Carlos Arroyo’s second year in the Euroleague, giving him more experience and seasoning. With the addition of David Bluthenthal and Maiej Lampe to go along with D’Or Fischer Maccabi has a very deep front court. There are rumors that many other free agents will be joining forces in Tel Aviv but the biggest help for the team would be if Omri Casspi stayed another year and worked on his game. After a disappointing year look for Maccabi to finally play together and come out of the gates with some fire.
Best Player – Tiago Splitter, Tau Ceramica: There are many great big men in the Euroleague but as far as I’m concerned Splitter has the crown of being the best. He is a very skilled shot blocker who also is a tremendous finisher around the basket. Splitter is very hard to stop whether he is running on the fast break or posting some one of the block. The Reign of Tiago has started.
Best Young Player – Mirza Sarajlija, Union Olimpija: If Omri Casspi was definitely going to be in Europe next year he might be the pick here, but with the possibility that he plays in the NBA next year Sarajlija gets the award. Sarajlija (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it) was playing the Euroleague at 17 years old last season and made an impact. He scored 6.5 points per game in his 6 games he played in the Euroleague and showed flashes of quickness, passing, and scoring ability that is not normally seen in someone this young.
Overall Summary: The wild, wild Group C is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season. There are three perennial powers in Moscow, Ceramica, and Maccabi who are all looking to have very good teams next year. Roma and Olimpija both have good young talent and could surprise people. This is by far the best group and any outcome wouldn’t shock me. The three way battle for first place will be very interesting to watch as those teams all have very deep and talented front courts. I can’t wait to watch, can we just fast forward to the start of the season?