MACCABI TEL AVIV
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv enters the new season with a new look, but with head coach David Blatt running the show and the awesome support the club gets from its diehard yellow-clad fans, the sky is the limit for the Israeli champs. Maccabi came up one basket short of another trip to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four last season after a tremendous playoffs series against Panathinaikos. The club has already started restocking with the additions of center Girorgi Shermadini and guard Ricky Hickman with more moves likely to come. With anything short of the playoffs considered a disappointment in Tel Aviv, all signs point to Maccabi again playing deep into the spring.
Head coach Luca Banchi ushers in a new era at Montepaschi and if it is anything like his predecessor, the fans in Siena have good things in store. Banchi replaces Simone Pianigiani, who led Montepaschi to the most successful period in club history. However the perennial Italian champs retain the core of last season’s squad, which dominated at times – winning eight straight games midseason – before falling to eventual champion Olympiacos in the playoffs. The first new signee, fiery guard Daniel Hackett, fits perfectly into the team’s concept as Siena targets another Final Four berth, this time with Banchi leading the way.
Alba Berlin returns to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague for the first time since the 2008-09 season ready to prove that its combination of a competitive squad, an outstanding arena, a model basketball organization and thousands of diehard fans can pay off right away. The Berliners were active from the start of the summer by bringing in local legend Sasa Obradovic as new head coach and then reshaping the squad with forwards Zach Morley and Nate Peavy plus guard Vule Avdalovic. With star guard Dashaun Wood back, Alba will be out to repeat the kind of success it had when Obradovic played for the team!
Coming off a season that featured ups and downs, Unicaja enters a new Turkish Airlines Euroleague campaign recharged and aiming high. Unicaja reached the Top 16 for the seventh consecutive season despite battling many injuries. With head coach Jasmin Repesa now holding the reins, Unicaja looks to compete at the highest level and to please its diehard fans in Malaga, Spain. Repesa inherits a deep, young and big frontline, which the team will surely build around as Unicaja looks to win often and early in hopes of challenging for a spot in the playoffs – and maybe even its first Final Four since 2007.
ASSECO PROKOM GDYNIA
About to start its ninth consecutive season in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, Asseco Prokom Gdynia has become synonymous with Polish basketball. In that time Prokom has established itself as s a rising force in European hoops too. Three seasons removed from a remarkable run to the Euroleague playoffs, Prokom will have a new look this season, but with a devoted fan base, a stable organization and strong sponsor, Prokom figures to reach opening night in form and to fight hard to get back to the Top 16 and beyond.
Turkish Airlines Euroleague newcomer Elan Chalon comes off a dream season in France and now looks to test itself against the best. Chalon won it all in France by lifting three trophies - Semaine des As, French Cup and the French League championship – becoming the first team to snag that triple crown in a decade. The star for head coach Gregor Beugnot was small forward and French League MVP Blake Schilb, who is back with guard Steed Tchicamboud and big man Ilian Evtimov to try and take Chalon to the next level as a legitimate contender in the Euroleague.
Maccabi Electra president, Shimon Mizrahi
We have been drawn against teams with great Euroleague tradition like Siena and Malaga. Alba and Prokom also know the Euroleague well and Chalon had a great season in France. You don’t win games on paper. We need to come as strong as possible to advance to the Top 16, which will be even more thrilling with its new format. We are working hard to complete our squad for the coming season and I can promise everyone that we will have a great team.”
Maccabi Electra head coach, David Blatt:
“Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv is proud and happy for its fans around the world to open a new season. We look forward to new challenges and are preparing accordingly. We are building a quality team that will know how to deal with the expectations and challenges and will bring joy to our wonderful and devoted fans and with proudly represent the symbol and great tradition of Maccabi Tel Aviv. The rest of the teams in our group, just like us, have not completed their rosters and even if we don’t face the strongest teams, there is no chance we will be overconfident. We will have a relatively new team and during the regular season we will have to come together. “
Montepaschi Siena President, Ferdinando Minucci
"At this time, we think all the teams and groups are strong. We are happy because there are other groups which are very, very difficult. The new Top 16 is fantastic. It is a new European championship - the best teams, players and coaches. We are happy to play more important games against big teams. Ours is a new project, with a new coach and possibly new players. We are waiting to see what happens, day by day."
Montepaschi Siena forward, David Moss
"It's a difficult group, as is normal in a high level competition at the Euroleague. Will face important teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv and Alba Berlin, but also Malaga, Prokom and Chalon. We will try to be ready and fight for get the best as we always have in recent years."
Alba Berlin general manager Marco Baldi
"It is very important for us to be in the Euroleague. The German League is a tough competition and only the champion makes it, but we had the chance to get the wild card, which is great for our organization and for our great fans in Berlin. We have four domestic champions in our group. There is a German saying that if you have no chance, use it. And this is exactly what we intend to do. It's not only important for our fans to be in the Euroleague, but also for the country. Having two German clubs in the Euroleague will make people want to see the competition. It is the best way we can promote the best basketball in Europe."
Alba Berlin head coach, Sasa Obradovic
"We join some of the top teams in the Euroleague in our group. Maccabi and Siena are definitely the favorites. We and the rest of the teams in the group will battle for the two remaining spots for the Top 16. Anyhow, no matter who our opponent is, we will always try to bring our best and play to win in every game."
Alba Berlin guard, Heiko Schaffartzik
"I am looking forward very much to my first season in the Euroleague. It is great for us and our fans to host teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv and Montepaschi Siena in Berlin again. Although it will be very difficult, we will go into every game looking to win."
Unicaja Sports Director, Manolo Rubia
"We always talk about groups being tougher or not, but there are no easy groups in this competition. Maccabi, Montepaschi and Alba are very good teams. We have to travel to Poland to face Prokom, which is always complicated, and I have been to Chalon and know what to expect. None of our opponents will be easy. We will try to win as many home games as possible, which is what will give us the chance to make it to the Top 16. The more Euroleague games we have, the better. That makes it more attractive for fans. If we make it to the Top 16, playing more games will be wonderful because we will face tougher opponents. We have to keep the status we have over the last years and reach the Top 16. That is our initial goal."
Asseco Prokom Gdynia Deputy President, Walter Jeklin
"We have two Final Four level teams in the group, Maccabi Electra and Montepaschi Siena, which is very good for us, the media and fans. We will fight for our chances to get to the Top 16 against the other four teams. Of course, Unicaja is a team that always plays well and has a good organization. Nevertheless, we have to look out for ourselves, regroup and find the group of players and coaches that will be able to fight for the Top 16, which should be our goal."
Elan Chalon General Manager Remy Delpon
"It is an honor to represent France in the Euroleague, and also to play against these great teams. It is a big challenge for us and we will try to be ready to represent France really well. I hope we can be the first French team that gets to the Top 16 in several years - that is the goal. If we have one goal in this Euroleague season, it has to be getting to the Top 16. We will try to play at a good level and see where that takes us."
Elan Chalon head coach, Greg Beugnot
“In the Euroleague, there is no small team. Even if it's a tough group, we must have the ambition to go for the Top 16. The home games will be very important. Getting Maccabi, Siena and Malaga is an honor for us and a great reward. But we are not starting as defeatists, we must raise our game to spring a surprise.”
Elan Chalon guard, Steed Tchicamboud
“We have a group with big name teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv, Siena and Malaga. Now we must prove ourselves and prove that we are not in the Euroleague by chance. I'm happy and super excited when I hear the teams we will play against. It's great.”