Top 16 team focus: LABORAL KUTXA VITORIA

Dec 23, 2014 by Euroleague.net Print
Top 16 team focus: LABORAL KUTXA VITORIA

It took Laboral some time to take off, and it started the season with a 2-4 record but three consecutive wins took the team to the Top 16. Thomas Heurtel has been its floor general, ranking int he top five in both assists and three-point shooting percentage. The club switched coaches and underwent several roster changes, but some players like sharpshooter Davis Bertans, do-it-all swingman Fernando San Emeterio and versatile forward Toko Shengelia have delivered since Round 1 while Fabien Causeur took over in a go-ahead win against Valencia Basket.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: It is always special for Laboral Kutxa to face CSKA Moscow, as their rivalry extends back more than a decade in the highest stages of the competition. Back in the mid-2000s, CSKA Moscow knocked off the then-called Tau Ceramica in the 2003-04 Top 16. Tau took revenge in the 2005 Euroleague semifinals, downing CSKA 78-85 in the Russian capital to reach the title game. CSKA struck the next blow in the 2008 semifinals, beating Tau 79-83, and also knocked off the Spanish powerhouse in the 2010 and 2013 playoffs. CSKA has a 17-5 lead in the all-time series.

GOING FORWARD: Some players have arrived to Vitoria recently and could take Laboral to the next level this season. Mike James is an explosive scorer and outstanding athlete. Sasha Vujacic has been off-target after being out of action for many months, but he should showcase his well-proven shooting skills from now onward. Mirza Begic arrived midway through the regular season and his size, experience and defense will help Laboral in the long run. And homegrown coach Ibon Navarro will be more motivated than anyone to bring Laboral back to its glory days.