|Two teams with Final Four aspirations will try to get the season started on the right foot Wednesday when Fenerbahce Ulker hosts Regal FC Barcelona. Both teams have made significant moves to upgrade their rosters in anticipation of big years. FB Ulker added scorer Lynn Greer and brought back swingman Tarence Kinsey to the core of last year’s squad, which is mostly healthy after an injury-plagued 2008-09 campaign. Barca added five players that could be a starting lineup for many other teams – Ricky Rubio, Pete Mickeal, Terrence Morris, Erazem Lorbek and Boni NDong – while keeping much of the firepower that launched it to last season’s Final Four, led by Euroleague MVP Juan Carlos Navarro. The overwhelming talents on these teams lead to series of mouth-watering matchups any of which could decide the game. At point guard, Willie Solomon, a seasoned player who can do it all, will lead Fener against Rubio, a rising star ready to take his and his team’s games to another level. Greer, a former scoring champ, pits his skills against those of Navarro. Omer Onan has the guile needed to shine on defense, where he may meet Jaka Lakovic. On the wings, head coach Bogdan Tanjevic sends scorer Gordon Giricek and Kinsey to handle Mickeal. The depth is just as incredible inside, where two of the best shot-blockers in the game, FB Ulker’s Omer Asik and Barca’s Fran Vazquez, will meet. Point forward Emir Preldzic and big guys Semih Erden and Oguz Savas join Asik on the Fener frontline, which is missing only the injured Mirsad Turkcan. Morris, Lorbek and NDong team up with Vazquez to lead Barcelona in the paint. One of Barcelona’s keys to success last season was its road record (7-3), while one of Fener’s biggest problems was its poor home record (4-4). Tanjevic’s men will be eager to change that stat, though head coach Xavi Pascual’s men will keep the confidence in their ability to win on the road when they take the floor in Istanbul. This game promises to be a true opening night classic, with so much of what makes Euroleague Basketball special on display.
REFEREES: Luigi Lamonica, Milivoje Jovcic, Sergey Zaschuk
Regal FC Barcelona
- Guard Willie Solomon enters the Euroleague season with 258 career assists and is just 2 behind Zoran Planinic for 25th place on the Euroleague’s career charts. He is also tied with Louis Bullock for 20th place on the career steals charts with 154.
- Guard Lynn Greer needs just 2 more three-pointers to reach 100 for his Euroleague career. He has made at least one three-pointer in his last eight Euroleague games.
- Rebounding king Mirsad Turkcan has scored in double figures in eight consecutive Euroleague games. He has made at least one three-pointer in each of those games.
- Turkcan, Greer and Barcelona forward Pete Mickeal were teammates briefly during the 2004-05 season at Dynamo Moscow. Mickael played only one Eurocup game with Moscow before moving to Makedonikos Kozani.
- Point forward Emir Preldzic and Barcelona guard Jaka Lakovic played together on the Slovenian national team at the 2008 Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament.
- Guards Juan Carlos Navarro and Jaka Lakovic enter the season ranked third and fourth, respectively, on the Euroleague career scoring charts. Navarro has 2,133 career points and Lakovic is just 3 points behind. Gianluca Basile is seventh on the list with 1,909 points.
- Basile will become the Euroleague career leader in games played when he takes the floor at Fenerbahce Ulker. Basile enters the season tied for first with former teammate David Andersen at 181, but Andersen is no longer in the league.
- Big man Erazem Lorbek enters the season 13 points away from reaching 1,000 for his Euroleague career.
- Center Fran Vazquez enters the season trailing Aleksey Savrasenko by 1 blocked shot for third place on the Euroleague career blocked shot list. Vazquez now has 114 blocks in 99 career games.
- Navarro has scored in double figures in 14 consecutive Euroleague games. He has made at least 1 three-pointer in his last 16 Euroleague games.
- Navarro has not missed a free throw in his last nine Euroleague games. He is 40 for 40 over that stretch.
- Lakovic has made multiple three-pointers in his last six Euroleague appearances.
- Forward Pete Mickeal had his finest Euroleague performance on opening night last season against Fenerbahce Ulker. Mickeal, then with Caja Laboral, produced 15 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals for a 24 index to lead his team to an 80-70 victory.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009