Turkish Airlines Euroleague
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Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
2012 Qualifying Round profile: PBC Lukoil Academic
Perennial Bulgarian League champion Lukoil Academic has the chance to make it to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague through the Qualifying Rounds. If it manages to do so, it will mark the club's return to the top European competition for the first time since the 1976-77 season, when it reached the first group stage. Lukoil comes off yet another successful domestic season. The club claimed back the Bulgarian Cup trophy and went on to win its 10th consecutive national crown by sweeping Levski in the best-of-five finals. Lukoil also returned to the Eurocup after a two-year absence, though despite a promising 2-0 start, the team did not advance past the regular season. Lukoil was one of the superpowers when European club basketball competition was created over half a century ago. Founded in 1947, Academic Basketball Club played in back-to-back European Cup finals in 1958 and 1959. Academic lost both title series against ASK Riga, but was one of the first teams to shine brightly in the newborn competition with players like Viktor Radev, Georgi Panov and Ljubomir Panov and head coach Bozhidar Takev. Academic remained the dominant force in Bulgaria by winning 12 titles between 1957 and 1976. Years of obscurity followed, but the club returned to the elite when Lukoil became its main sponsor and the team shined soon after by lifting the Bulgarian Cup trophy in 2002. And Lukoil has dominated Bulgarian basketball ever since. It reached the ULEB Cup elimination rounds four times in the past decade and the Last 16 in 2007-08. Along the way, Lukoil fans had the chance to witness great individual performances from players like the Eurocup's all-time leading scorer Todor Stoykov, 2003-04 ULEB Cup MVP Priest Lauderdale and 2005-06 ULEB Cup assists champ Lamont Jones, among many others. In 2010-11, Lukoil lost on point-difference against Aris in the Eurocup Qualifying Round. It rebounded to reach the EuroChallenge quarterfinals, where Academic lost 2-1 against eventual champion Krka Novo Mesto in a three-game series that came down to the last shot. Lukoil has accumulated an incredible 339-23 Bulgarian League record since 2003 and now has the chance to make it to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Lukoil will of course try to make the most out of this opportunity to restore its place among the very best in European basketball.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
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Lukoil Academic adds Watkins at center
Lukoil Academic brings back Green
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