Euroleague giants Barcelona who are looking to reclaim their top spot since 2010 are next up.
Introduction: After being knocked out by the last two Euroleague champions, Regal Barcelona made some adjustments to continue to contend for this year's Euroleague, a trophy that they won most recently in 2010.
With a renovation mostly on the interior presences : Fran Vazquez, Boniface N’Dong and Kosta Perovic out and Chuck Eidson not agreeing with a new contract, the Spanish team went to work on good signings this off season.
Nathan Jawai comes from last year’s surprise Unics Kazan where he was a nightmare for Barcelona in the qualification, using his body in the inside to create easy baskets. Ante Tomic in a non-expected “novel” comes from rivals Real Madrid, a very talent offensively Center. Sarunas Jasikevicius who once was “El Maestro” for this exactly same team, returns home to give experience and leadership off the bench. In a great way to start rebuilding, Barcelona signed Spanish “Wonder Boy” Alex Abrines who is expected to learn and be the successor of J.C. Navarro shooting guard position and 20 years old Forward Marko Todorovic, a Montenegrin promise.
It’s clear that once again Los Cúles will have a long and amazingly competitive season playing in the best intern league and Euroleague, their rotation will be the key because they are one of the deepest teams in Europe.
Coach: After agreeing to extend is contract until 2014-15, Xavi Pascual will try to continue what he does best – winning titles. In all four seasons that the Spanish coach led FC Barcelona, they won one or more competitions (2010 being the top year). Pascual is an experienced coach who privileges aggressive defence and good pick and roll movements, and with high IQ point guards like Huertas and Jasi we expect some offensive clinics during the season.
Key Player: Erazem Lorbek has to be the key player this year with J.C. Navarro dealing with tons of injuries these last two seasons not letting him play with full strength. Lorbek was not expected to play this year in Europe, there were many rumours about him joining the San Antonio Spurs in NBA but that didn’t happen after all. With a panoply of offensive skills, Lorbek is considered the best forward and one of the top 3 players in Europe at the moment.
Breakout Player: Joe Ingles. We know, technically he is not a “newcomer” or a player that you’ve never heard before but after an incredible Olympics campaign the Australian player deserves our amusement. It looks like Ingles found his offense; driving for the basket or shooting from outside like we’ve never seen before. Can he keep up his confidence and play at the highest level that we have ever saw with other ball dominant players? We expect so.
Biggest Euroleague Moment: The entire 2009-10 campaign in Euroleague. It was a truly remarkable season finish with a 20-2 score, something never seen before in the competition. Barcelona played on and off the most exciting basketball ever saw but at the same time Pascual used simple pick and roll action to create for every player on the floor. A lot of glimpses of magic from Ricky Rubio, above the rim plays from Vazquez, the genius of Navarro and all the players contributing for a title that will be marked in the history of European basketball.