The start of the Euroleague season may still be more than three months away, but
Maccabi Tel Aviv already knows who it will be facing in the regular season after
Thursday’s draw in Barcelona.
Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos, Laboral
Vitoria of Spain, Russia’s Lokomotiv Kuban, Red Star Belgrade and a team from
the qualifying rounds were all drawn with Maccabi in Group D, with the top four
sides to advance to the Top 16.
After 14 games for each club in the Top
16, the top four teams from each of the two groups will progress to the
best-of-five quarterfinal playoffs. The lone change in the competition’s format
from last year is that the eight teams which are knocked out in the regular
season will be handed a place in the Eurocup Last 32.
The regular season
tips off on October 17, with the Euroleague announcing on Thursday that the
Final Four will take place in Milan, Italy, on May 15-18.
draw is always exciting,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt. “We are at a very
early stage with most teams still rebuilding for next season. The players’
market is moving slower than ever this year so it is hard to predict how strong
our rivals will be.”
Unlike Maccabi, which has so far only added Alex
Tyus to its roster, Panathinaikos has been very active in the early part of the
off-season, bringing back Antonis Fotsis while resigning Stephane Lasme, James
Gist and Ramel Curry.
The Greeks have also landed talented prospects
Vladimir Jankovic and Nikos Pappas, but their most crucial move was extending
the contract of former Euroleague MVP Dimitris Diamantidis.
teams have not completed their rosters yet to have a clear picture, our group
seems possible at first sight,” said Pao coach Argyris Pedoulakis.
challenge for us is to be ready from the start.” Maccabi will also expect a
tough time against Vitoria, while reigning Eurocup champion Kuban will pose a
real threat in its first ever Euroleague appearance, with its roster including
the likes of Nick Calathes and Aleks Maric.
“We face a very competitive
and challenging group,” added Blatt. “In order to succeed in this group and in
the long Euroleague season we need to build a strong quality team and we are
currently in the midst of that process.”