As one of the best basketball clubs in the world, perennial Russian League champion CSKA Moscow is in its second golden age and hopes to keep adding hardware to its trophy case. CSKA has won six Euroleague titles, the last two in 2006 and 2008, and has made it to the Final Four every season since 2003. Coaching great Dusko Vujosevic joined this summer to coach stars like Viktor Khryapa, Trajan Langdon and Ramunas Siskauskas and lead CSKA forward as it looks to win all competitions.
Perennial Greek League champion Panathinaikos will do its best to win what would be its fifth Euroleague title and its third in five years. The Green giants were knocked off in the Top 16 last season, but those that underestimate Panathinaikos will be in trouble. Zeljko Obradovic, the winningest coach in European basketball history, leads a team that features Dimitris Diamantidis, Nikola Pekovic and Mike Batiste among many, many other stars.
POWER ELECTRONICS VALENCIA
Reigning Eurocup champion Power Electronics Valencia is ready for its first Euroleague season in six years. Back then, Valencia was one win away from reaching the Final Four. Valencia has landed Dusko Savanovic and kept key players like Victor Claver and Serhiy Lishchuk to stay competitive in the 2010-11 season. It is a big challenge, but Valencia knows it has to take one game at the time in a dream season for all Valencia fans.
By landing one of the best young coaches in Europe and some interesting new players, Efes Pilsen is looking to bounce back from a rare 2009-10 season in which the team managed a single trophy, the Turkish Supercup. Coach Velimir Perasovic has taken over on the sidelines and will have Cenk Akyol, Andrew Wisniewski and Erwin Dudley among his new charges. As a perennial Euroleague team, Efes knows what it takes to reach high in the competition and is ready to put that into practice.
ARMANI JEANS MILANO
A two-time Euroleague champion, Armani Jeans Milano has the initial goal to survive the regular season and be able to take it from there. AJ Milano kept its nucleus with players like Marius Petravicius, Jonas Maciulis and Mason Rocca and has enough time to complete a competitive roster before the start of the competition. Tradition, experience and ability are not questions, as Milano is nothing but a classic team in continental basketball.
Slovenian powerhouse Union Olimpija looks to bounce back from its recent Euroleague past to challenge for a Top 16 spot. With a brand new, state-of-the-art Stozice Arena opening, Olimpija will be strong in Ljubljana as it tries to fuel its Top 16 dreams. Olimpija has accumulated a 7-27 record in the last three Euroleague seasons, but its fan base and talent to scout for young and unknown talented players give it the potential to break out anew every year.
CSKA Moscow president, Andrey Vatutin:
"The groups are quite equal, we do not have the 'groups of death' this season. I am satisfied with the draw results, we will have interesting games. We are starting new project with a new coach now, but our ambitions are the same. We are optimistic about our future and we hope to receive the support from our fans."
CSKA head coach Dusko Vujosevic:
“It is difficult to compare the groups right now, because we do not know the qualification round winners who can change the situation in their respective groups. At the same time, most of the teams do not have final rosters yet. That’s why it will be easier to give the estimations at the end of the summer. Still, I think it will be not easy for us. For instance, Panathinaikos is the strongest team from the second seeds. For now it looks like Valencia and Olimpija will not be at the same level next season. As well as Efes Pilsen, which will have less quality players, but I expect them to show better team game. As for Armani Jeans, there is not so much information about the team now.”
Panathinaikos sports director, Manos Papadopoulos
"I believe that we are playing a very difficult group, not only because of CSKA, but because all the other teams are difficult, too. Our goal is no other than making our fans happy. We will play CSKA for the first time since the final in Berlin, but we are used to playing against them. It is excellent for us to have the chance to play against them twice. Of course, playing against CSKA means we won't play against them in the Top 16. I don't know if that will be an advantage. It is too early to discuss this."
Power Electronics Valencia head coach, Manuel Hussein
"I think all the groups are difficult. I think CSKA and Panathinaikos are teams with great tradition. It will be difficult for us, but our intention is to play well for our fans. Now we are trying to finish building the team. The most important is to finish building the team and to have good chemistry and to play good basketball."
Efes Pilsen marketing director, Vavrucek Hakki Kutluhan
"All the best teams in Europe play in the Euroleague, so you cannot expect an easy group. It is good for us that we know all the teams, as we played against them before. This is a very important season for us because we want to qualify to the Final Four in 2011. We have not matched our goals in the last two years, so we need to play better and get the support of our fans. We have to be very strong at home. It is not an easy group, but it’s also not the most difficult one. We play against CSKA and Panathinaikos early, but if we didn't, we would play against two very strong teams anyway. Being a fourth-seeded team, you can expect very good teams in your group, for sure. We hope to do well and qualify to the Top 16 in good position."
Armani Jeans Milano sporting director, Gianluca Pascucci
"The group is a very tough, challenging group with two of the last three Euroleague champs, CSKA and Panathinaikos, the last Eurocup winner and Efes Pilsen is fourth, but it’s a fake fourth seed with a large budget and experience, plus Olimpia, which has a lot of history. It is another great challenge for us to make it to the Top 16. The fans in Milano will be happy to see very good teams. We are not that happy, of course (laughs), because we really want to be in the Top 16. Like I said, we did it two years ago despite a tough group also featuring CSKA, so hopefully we will be able to do it again."
Union Olimpija general director, Janez Rajgelj:
"It is a very tough group but for the first time, Union Olimpija was a last-seeded team, so we expected it that way. We have to enter the competition without much pressure and it is a good thing to be the underdog, because on the other hand, we know we have to improve our results. We have opening a brand new arena this season and it is good that teams like CSKA or Panathinaikos will come early to play against us. We are looking forward to it and hope we can surprise someone."