Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa will be confident of reaching the Eurocup Last 32 after being handed reasonable draws in the regular season on Saturday.
While both Israeli sides were placed with Russian powerhouses, the Eurocup’s new expanded format means Jerusalem and Haifa will expect to finish among the top three in their respected groups and advance to the next round.
Instead of 32 teams, the regular season will include 48 clubs in 2013/14, who were drawn into eight groups of six sides each in Barcelona on Saturday.
Jerusalem was put in Group E with the powerful Khimki Moscow, as well as Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir of Turkey, Bosnian champion Igokea Aleksandrovac, Bulgarian champion Lukoil Academic Sofia and Romanian champion CSU Asesoft Ploiesti.
“It is exciting to finally find out who we will be facing in the Eurocup,” said Jerusalem coach Brad Greenberg. “We will now begin the process of learning about the teams and players we are going to play.”
Haifa was placed in Group G with the strong Unics Kazan of Russia, Banvit Bandirma of Turkey, Latvian champion VEF Riga, MZT Skopje Aerodrom of Macedonia and Estonian champion Kalev Cramo.
The 10-game regular season will begin on October 15 and finish on December 18. The Last 32 starts on January 7, with the 24 qualified teams to be joined by eight more sides eliminated from the Euroleague regular season. The Last 32 consists of six more games for each team, ending February 19.
The top two teams from each group advance, this time to the Eurocup Eighthfinals, head-to-head two-game home-andaway series’ decided on aggregate score. The quarterfinals, semifinals and final will also be determined in two-game home-and-away series’.
Maccabi Tel Aviv discovered on Friday night the identity of its final opponent in Euroleague Group D, after Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius won the qualifying tournament by defeating Belgian champion Telenet Oostende 75-66.
Maccabi will also face Greek giant Panathinaikos, Laboral Vitoria of Spain, Russia’s Lokomotiv Kuban and Red Star Belgrade.
The yellow-and-blue will open its campaign at Vitoria on October 17.
Meanwhile, Israel’s BSL teams will enter the final stretch of their preparations for the new season in the Winner Cup this week.
In Sunday’s quarterfinals in Rishon Lezion, Hapoel Holon will face Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Hapoel Eilat plays Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
On Monday at Nokia Arena, Barak Netanya comes up against Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv faces Hapoel Tel Aviv.
The semis will be played in Rishon Lezion on Wednesday, with the final to take place in the same venue on Thursday.
Maccabi Haifa was replaced by Gilboa in the tournament as the former is currently touring the US where it will play the Phoenix Suns (October 7), Detroit Pistons (October 8) and Memphis Grizzlies (October 13).
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