Here’s round three of BallinEurope’s look at the groupings for the upcoming EuroChallenge 2009-10 season. Group C features a couple of big(gish)-money teams in uncertain times and an 11th place team from 2008-09. Could the relative unknowns from Belarus surprise here…?
• BC Krasnye Krylya Samara. The lowest placer in the Russian Super League to gain an invite to EuroChallenge 2009-10, Krasnye Krylya made some waves back home early in the season with an away win at BC Khimki. A 75-57 home loss to Unics Kazan a couple of weeks later may have taken a bit of the wind out of the sails, however.
Player to watch: Gonna go with Luis Flores here, if only to see whether his slow rise through the European pro ranks continues. Flores’ glory days may all have been before he turned professional, first in helping Team Dominican Republic get silver at the 2003 Pan An Games then in putting Manhattan College on the NCAA basketball map back in 2003-2004 while averaging 22.7 points per game for his career there. Flores couldn’t stick in the NBA, however, getting into just 16 games in two seasons; Samara may represent the best team he’s played for in the pro ranks – What can he do for them?
Last season: 11th place in the Russian Super League.
Current standing: Sixth place on the table at 3-3.
• Scavolini Spar Pesaro. No offense to the folks at FIBA, but Pesaro may have slightly more on their minds than this competition. After putting together a team built on the remains of Victoria Libertas to play in the third division in 2005, Pesaro reached Serie A for 2007-08. However, they’ve started this season an incredible 0-6 and relegation has got to be feared by some early.
Player to watch: Tell you who the Pesaro front office’ll be watching: Branko Cvetkovic. Cvetkovic started the season with FMP Belgrade after leaving Zaragoza, but on Friday jumped to Scavolini Scar Pesaro, perhaps a desperation move on the part of a fast-sinking, low-scoring team. Can one deadshot clean up an entire team’s mess? Cvetkovic had better hope so or he’ll be going down with yet another relegated team.
Last season: An eighth-place Serie A finish.
Current standing: At 0-6 in Serie A, Pesaro is ahead of only Martos Napoli, a team docked points in the standings as a penalty by the league.
• ABC Amsterdam. The defending Dutch national champions hope to right a ship rocked by Arik Shivek’s departure for Dexia Mons-Hainaut in October. Assistant-cum-head coach Ferry Steenmetz of the US has seen mixed results thus far in the Astronauts’ attempts to reach the next level of competition.
Player to watch: At 2.11 meters, Robert Krabbendam can totally control the boards, but was inconsistent in two games against Enterprise Dynamo in EuroCup qualifiers.
Last season: FEB Eredivisie champions.
Current standing: Tied for 7th after eight games played.
• BC Minsk 2006. This team is a bit of a mystery, and information here is scarce indeed. According to FIBA, BC Minsk 2006 has no history and no news. Eurobasket.com reports that the team is now 8-0 to start the season, however, and seems to have a team capable of scoring 90-plus a game. In Belarus.
Player to watch: Well, Jason McCoy’s recognizable. After a notable college career with Rutgers and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, McCoy had a stint in the NBA D-League that didn’t lead anywhere in America. Formerly with KK in Montenegro, he’s now here.
Last season: Belarusian champions.
Current standing: Atop the table in Belarus.