Over the next few days, BallinEurope.com will be running brief previews on Euroleague teams in advance of Opening Day (well, Opening Day for 92% of the league, anyway). Today, Jaime Martínez Lafargue, editor of the (mostly) Spanish-language website Solobasket.com, takes a look at the monsters from Barcelona.
The Regal FC Barcelona roster is simply amazing. Despite losing players like David Andersen and Ersan Ilyasova to the NBA, being able to assemble such a great team tells us about the intention of Barcelona to reach the Euroleague Final Four again, and, if possible, to win it. Actually, you can’t call me crazy if I say that FC Barcelona has the best roster in the Euroleague. Of course Real Madrid, Olympiacos and CSKA – among others – will be competing for the title too, but Xavi Pascual has the team engine working at full throttle from the very beginning.
Let’s start by analyzing the signings in the frountcourt. Erazem Lorbek, Boniface Ndong and Terence Morris replace the two aforementioned players plus Puerto Rican center Daniel Santiago. On paper, Andersen and Ilyasova were both key players for Barcelona last season, but the Slovenian is playing at an incredible level, continuing his great performance in Eurobasket 2009. His foot movement sometimes recalls Hakeem Olajuwon and his shooting capabilities from any range are superb. Ndong and Morris bring more athleticism to a frontcourt that already includes Fran Vázquez, one of the best blockers and dunkers in Europe.
In addition, general manager Joan Creus made a quick move by adding Pete Mickeal from Tau Cerámica just after the last season ended. This American forward has been one of the best players in the Spanish ACB in recent seasons and, after helping Tau win league and cup titles, has moved to Barcelona. Mickeal won the 2007/2008 Finals MVP, which gives him even more credit, since he changed his role from key scorer on former teams to an all-around contributing team player in Tau.
The backcourt remains almost the same. Gianluca Basile’s contract was renewed while Roger Grimau, Lubos Barton, Víctor Sada and Jaka Lakovic are staying on the roster. Completing this wonderful backcourt is Spanish European gold medalist Juan Carlos Navarro. To make the team perfect, Barcelona managed to sign the most desired player of the summer: Ricky Rubio. The young star, a member of the Spanish national team as well, has finally chosen to stay in the ACB with the best possible team for him: A team just few kilometers from his home and a team that could help him win many titles before
going to the NBA.
After four official games and some other preseason games, Barcelona is still undefeated. Who will be the first team to beat them? Of course, the team will lose some (not many) games in 2009/10, but who will manage to prevent them from getting all the titles this season?