Euroleague Basketball: Maccabi hopes to avoid the big guns

Despite finishing second in BSL, Tel Aviv will be included in Euroleague draw today.

tal burstein 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
tal burstein 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem and Bnei Hasharon will discover their European fate on Tuesday when the Euroleague and Eurocup draws take place in Berlin. Maccabi will be one of the four No. 1 seeds in European basketball's premier competition and can not be paired with any of the other top seeds: CSKA Moscow, Montepaschi Siena and Tau Vitoria, the teams which competed in last season's Final Four in Madrid. The second seeding group includes Greek giant Olympiacos, where former Maccabi stars Yotam Halperin and Nikola Vujcic now play after transferring this summer, and powerhouse Barcelona. Maccabi will be hoping to avoid Panathinaikos and Real Madrid from the third seeding group, but will not have too many concerns regarding the teams it receives from the bottom three seeding groups. In the Eurocup, formerly known as the ULEB Cup, Bnei Hasharon will be drawn directly into the group stage, while Hapoel Jerusalem, which has taken the place of Hapoel Holon, will learn of its draw for the second qualifying round. Jerusalem, which completed the signing of Omar Sneed, its first of the off-season, at the start of the week, will face its opponent home and away at the end of October. If it fails to advance to the group stage it will participate in FIBA Europe's EuroChallenge, formerly known as the FIBA Eurocup. Bnei Hasharon, which will be playing in the Europe's second tier competition for the first time in its history, announced on Monday that Moshe Weinkrantz will be the club's new coach. Despite not coaching in the top division in recent years, the 54-year-old is one of Israel's most experienced coaches and has reached the playoff finals six times in the past. "I recognized the huge potential of this club and decided to come back and coach," Weinkrantz said. "I believe that this club can be led to successes both in the league and in Europe. I said in the past that I wouldn't come back if the professional and economic conditions weren't right and at Bnei Hasharon they're exactly that." Bnei Hasharon chairman Eldad Akunis added: "Weinkrantz is one of the best coaches in Israeli basketball. From the day we understood Effi Birenboim would be leaving for Maccabi we earmarked Weinkrantz as our next coach. "We are sure he's the right man at the right time and that he can take the club another step forward." Unlike Jerusalem, Bnei Hasharon's roster is all but complete with Sean James, Haminn Quaintance and Ori Itzhaki all joining the team in recent weeks, and Meir Tapiro, Ousmane Cisse and Erez Katz also all under contract for next season. The Euroleague Basketball General Assembly, which met in Berlin on Monday, approved a new competition structure for the Euroleague, starting from the coming season. The regular season will be shortened from 14 to 10 games by reorganizing into four groups of six teams each. The best four teams from each of the round robin groups will advance to the top 16 in which there will be four groups of four teams. The top two teams from each group will progress to the best-of-five-game quarterfinal playoffs, with the four series winners progressing to the Final Four.