Natxo Mendaza gave us his insight view on TAU Cermica Vitoria from Spain. Naxto is a regular writer for eurobasket.com and covers here especially the Spanish ACB league as well as the Spanish Euroleague teams.
Overall record prediction: 6-4
After having probably the best season of its history, TAU Ceramica Baskonia bet on the continuity of its key players. Argentinean playmaker Pablo Prigioni, US forward Pete Mickeal (MVP of the finals) and Brazillian center Tiago Splitter are the key pieces of TAU’s backbone for the upcoming Euroleague season. TAU management made a great effort to keep Mickeal and Splitter into the roster, raising their salaries to a star-level. That’s why one of the reasons why president Querejeta had to transfer Zoran Planinic (CSKA) and Goran Dragic (Phoenix Suns), giving full credit to Prigioni as starter and betting on a cheap option for backing him up (Shakur). And this is, for almost every TAU fan, the main worry about the team.what will happen when Prigioni has to rest or, even worst, is the team ready to work fine if Pablo gets injured? After watching their friendly games, they are not. Shakur got limited playing time, as Matias Nocedal lost his place in Ivanovic’ rotation in the last games.
Where TAU seemed to have reinforced better is the perimeter. Rakocevic showed a great level in all pre-season games, becoming team’s best scorer. Mickeal, despite of a muscular injury, should perform even better this year, as Sergi Vidal seems to feel pretty good with Dusko Ivanovic discipline. The only addition, but maybe the best one in TAU this season, is Fernando San Emeterio (Akasvayu Girona). San Emeterio, the natural-born successor of Carlos Jimenez, is a solid performer, able to do everything on a basketball court. Doesn’t excel in anything, but helps everywhere.
Inside, TAU got in trouble very early this season, as Tiago Splitter missed the whole preseason because of an injury. He is the key piece of TAU’s frontcourt, and everything is expected to be built around him. In his absence, Will McDonald has stepped up, showing a great attitude and
impressive numbers. Having losing weight, he seems to be very focused and eager to forget of his awful last season under Spahija’s orders. Barac is supposed to be Tiago’s backup, but his lack of physical presence in the paint can put his minutes in jeopardy. Teletovic, a small forward into the body of power forward, will probably take a specialist role in Dusko Ivanovic rotation. His incredible shooting skills are at the same level than his questionable defensive abilities, and that’s something Ivanovic won’t forgive.
Final Four: Unicaja, Olympiacos, CSKA and Real Madrid
Winner: CSKA Moscow
written by Natxo Mendaza