Besides the Euroleague with all its stars and the ULEB Cup with an increased number of participating teams, there is another European competition that will start this week. The FIBA Euro Cup. I took a short look at the different games that will be played in the first elimination round this week.
Energy Invest Rustavi Tbilisi (Georgia) – “My Guide” Amsterdam (Netherlands)
BC Dnipro (Ukraine) – Elba Timisoara (Romania)
Cedevita Zagreb (Croatia)- Strumica 2005 (FYROM)
Spartak Pleven (Bulgaria)-Olympias Patras (Greece)
Spartak St. Petersburg (Russia) -BC Odessa (Ukraine)
KK Igokea Partizan Aleksandrovac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – Bakken Bears (Denmark)
By reading the names of the different teams, even the basketball experts will have problems to name players of these respective teams. Of course, all eyes will be on the team of Spartak St. Petersburg. The team from coach Oleg Okulov features two former NBA players with Damir Markota and Rafael Araujo and the 2007 draftee Milovan Rakovic. Okulov explains in a recent interview with FIBA Europe which players he would love to add to his team and what are his goals with the actual roster. Their opponents, BC Odessa should not be considered as a big match-up as the team already struggles in the Ukrainian league.
The Bosnia & Herzegovina Cup Champion from Aleksandrovac will face the Danish Champions Bakken Bears. Both teams are total unknown to me and even when I check the rosters of them, I can not tell you much as I barely heard any players name of both teams.
The game between Rustavi and Amsterdam will feature the Bahamian seven footer Anwar Ferguson as well as some interesting Georgian prospects on one side and a pretty much American dominated team on the Dutch side. BC Dnipro comes with pure Ukrainian roster that features the interesting guard Maksim Vilkhovetskiy as well as the very experienced seven footer Grigori Khiznyak when the”Romanian” team of Timisoara feature not less than 5 players born in Serbia.
I don’t have much to tell you about the game between Cedevita and Strumica as I know anybody from both sides and in the last match-up of this elimination round, Patras should be considered as the favortie as they feature some quality material and even a member of the Czech National team that played the Eurobasket this summer. The Czech that is playing in Greece is called Maurice Whitfield by the way.