If you dig wagering on – or even contemplating wagering on – underdogs and longshots, Euroleague/BallinEurope.com sponsor Sporting Bet may have the proposition for you: It’s called the “Russia Superleague A 2009-10 Outright Winner.”
As always, CSKA Moscow heads the table at 9/10, but this team may be weaker than it has in a decade after a brutal offseason of changes. A new coach stands in Ettore Messina’s giant shoes, and departures included the key trio of Erazem Lorbek, Terence Morris and Nikos Zisis; in fact, about the best that can be said for CSKA’s between-seasons maneuvering is that the Red Army managed to pillage their Superleague buddies in snapping up Evgenyi Pashutin from Spartak, Anton Ponkrashov from Khimki, and Dimitry Sokolov from Unics Kazan; Nikita Kurbanov also returns from his loaner to Spartak.
As a result of these chances in coaching staff and playing personnel, CSKA will be forced to adapt to a game emphasizing the backcourt, and Moscow’s fans will certainly be pleased to see a rested J.R. Holden running the show in the early going, rather than a tired 33-year-old spent from Eurobasket exertion with Team Russia.
Combine the negatives with Matjaz Smodis’ quite serious injury and the subsequent addition of Ivan Radenovic – a nice player but no Smodis – gives us a CSKA Moscow less fearsome than in recent years and one that might have trouble particularly out of the gate.
While CSKA might not go too far in Euroleague play, can anyone back home stop the big red machine this year? Sporting Bet’s odds table looks like so:
BC Khimki: 14/5
UNICS Kazan: 9/2
Dynamo Moscow: 5/1
Triumph Lyubertsy: 20/1
Spartak St. Petersburg: 28/1
Lokomotiv Kuban: 80/1
Enisey Krasnoyarsk: 100/1
Krasnye Krylya Samara: 150/1
Whoa, is CSKA really that far ahead of the competition? Is it totally off the mark to suggest that Khimki might compete? Sure, they’re going to have to completely regenerate their team, with impressive names in European basketball both entering (Raul Lopez, Carlos Cabezas, Paulius Jankunas) and departing (Carlos Delfino, Jorge Garbajosa, Maciej Lampe, Milt Palacio) the scene, but isn’t this sort of turnover standard for Khimki? Is there so little faith that Team Spain head coach Sergio Scariolo can’t handle a team not packed with supermegastars?
Seriously, will anyone back Khimki in this one…?
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