EUROLEAGUE PREVIEW: PANA OUT TO DEFEND

The new Turkish Airlines Euroleague campaign – and the road to Istanbul – tips off this week with Panathinaikos beginning the defence of the crown they won in Barcelona last May.

And with an influx of NBA players – and possibly more to come – most of whom with opt outs in their contracts to leave if their regular gig resumes, it promises to be an unpredictable and exciting campaign.

Here’s a guide to the first round – and the Week 1 match-ups.

Group A: BENNET CANTU – SLUC NANCY BASKET (All-time head to head: 1 – 1)

BENNET CANTU

– Gianluca Basile will play his 200th career Euroleague game on opening night. He becomes just the fourth player – joining Theo Papaloukas, J.R. Holden and former teammate Jaka Lakovic – to achieve that feat.

– Basile needs 17 more points to become the 10th player in Euroleague Basketball history to reach 2,000 points in the competition.

– Basile needs just 6 more assists to reach the top 10 on the Euroleague Basketball career lists in that category. Basile has 424 career assists, but the player in 10th place, Nikos Zisis, is also active.

– Denis Marconato enters the season tied with Unics Kazan center Aleksey Savrasenko for fourth place in the Euroleague career offensive rebounding charts with 279.

– Giorgi Shermadini was the top shot blocker in the Top 16 last season and had at least 1 blocked shot in his last seven Euroleague games.

– Nicolas Mazzarino, Maarty Leunen, David Lighty, Federico Bolzonella, Andrea Cinciarini, Ben Ortner and Marco Diviach are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

SLUC NANCY BASKET

– Nancy has never won a road game in the Euroleague.

– Adrien Moerman blocked a shot in each of his last five Euroleague games played. That streak took place in the 2009-10 season when he played for Entente Orleanaise.

– Jamal Shuler, Kenneth Grant, Moussa Badiane and John Linehan are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts. – Abdel Kader Sylla could become the first ever player from Seychelles to play in the Euroleague.

BIZKAIA BILBAO BASKET – OLYMPIACOS PIRAEUS (Non European past match – ups)

BIZKAIA BILBAO BASKET

– Kostas Vasileiadis spent the 2007-08 season playing for Olympiacos in his native Greece. He played with current Reds Panos Vasilopoulos and Georgois Printezis that year. Vasileiadis and Vasilopoulos also played together earlier in their careers at PAOK. – Vasileiadis and Dimitrios Mavroeidis were teammates with Olympicos players Kostas Sloukas and Kostas Papanikolaou last summer on the Greek national team at EuroBasket 2011. – Mavroeidis played alongside Olympiacos swingman Michalis Pelekanos during the 2009-10 season at Maroussi, which they helped make a surprise run to the Euroleague Top 16. – Head coach Fotios Katsikaris was an assistant coach on Olympiacos head coach Dusan Ivkovic’s staff when then latter coached AEK Athens between 1999 and 2001. – Katsikaris coached Olympiacos big men Pero Antic and Andreas Glyniadakis at AEK Athens during the 2003-04 and 04-05 seasons. – Katsikaris also coached Olympiacos swingman Michalis Pelekanos during the 2004-05 season at AEK Athens. – Roger Grimau captained FC Barcelona Regal to the 2010 Euroleague title with an 86-68 win over Olympiacos in the title game in Paris. – Marko Banic, Janis Blums, Aaron Jackson, Oliver Stevic and Tomas Hampl are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

OLYMPIAKOS PIRAEUS

– Vassilis Spanoulis is riding a streak of 25 consecutive free throws made in the Euroleague. – Martynas Gecevicius was a teammate of Bizkaia Bilbao Basket guard Janis Blums during the 2006-07 season at Lietuvos Rytas. They helped Rytas reach the Eurocup title game that season. – Gecevicius has made at least one three-pointer in 16 straight Euroleague games. – Lazaros Papadopoulos was a teammate of Bizkaia Bilbao Basket players Axel Hervelle, Alex Mumbru and Raul Lopez during the 2007-08 and the start of the 2008-09 seasons at Real Madrid. – Michalis Pelekanos was a teammate of Bizkaia Bilbao Basket players Hervelle, Mumbru and Lopez during the 2007-08 season at Real Madrid. – Pero Antic makes his return to the Euroleague after six full seasons away. – Matt Howard, Kalin Lucas and Evangelos Mantzaris are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

FENERBAHCE ULKER ISTANBUL – CAJA LABORAL (3- 7)

FENERBAHCE ULKER ISTANBUL

– Head coach Neve Spahija led Caja Laboral to the 2008 Euroleague Final Four. The team also won the Spanish League Spahija. – Roko Ukic made his Euroleague debut with Caja Laboral (then Tau Ceramica) in 2005-06, which was his only season with the club. – Curtis Jerrells and James Gist also played together in the Euroleague last season, their first each, for Partizan Belgrade. – Engin Atsur, Berkay Canden and Thabo Sefolosha are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

CAJA LABORAL – Mirza Teletovic has made at least 1 three-pointer in 10 straight Turkish Airlines Euroleague games. – Pablo Prigioni is only 5 free throws away from reaching the 200 mark for his Euroleague career. – Prigioni is just 2 steals short of 300 for his career. His current total of 298 ranks second-best in Euroleague history. – Caja Laboral lost a playoff series 3-1 to eventual Euroleague runner-up Maccabi Electra last season, the same team that it had beaten 94-78 in Week 1. – The only time that Caja Laboral won its season opener on the road was the 2004-05 season when it beat Pau Orthez. – Thomas Huertel, Unai Calebarro, Reggie Williams, Richard Dorsey and Kevin Seraphin are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

Group B: PANATHINAIKOS ATHENS – UNICAJA MALAGA (10 – 4)

PANATHINAIKOS ATHENS

Will Pana's fans be celebrating again in Istanbul?

– Panathinaikos has won its Euroleague season opener in each of the last seven seasons. Its last opening night lass came in 2003 against Zalgiris. – Kostas Tsartsaris needs 6 more rebounds to move into the top 10 on the Euroleague Basketball career list. Tsartsaris has gathered 771 rebounds in his Euroleague career. Jorge Garbajosa enters the season in 10th place.

– Mike Batiste needs 2 more baskets made to catch Luis Scola for fifth place on the list of most baskets scored in Euroleague Basketball history. Batiste enters the season with 813 field goals made. – Batiste needs 5 more free throws to reach 400 for his Euroleague career. – The best single-game performance of Batiste’s impressive Euroleague career came against Unicaja. Batiste scored 22 points on near- perfect shooting and grabbed 9 rebounds for a career-high 35 index rating in a 103-95 overtime win in March 2009.

– David Logan needs 7 more made free throws to reach 100 in his Euroleague career. – Dimitris Diamantidis established a career high of 7 steals against Unicaja back in November 2006. – Stevin Smith and Alexandros Kyritsis are set to record their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

UNICAJA

– Joel Freeland has scored in double figures in 13 straight Euroleague games. – Uros Tripkovic has made 8 straight free throws in Euroleague action. – Nedzad Sinanovic registered career highs in minutes (28), blocks (2), total rebounds (8) and offensive rebounds (3) last season against Panathinaikos in Malaga. – Sinanovic exploded in the Top 16 last season. After not playing the entire Regular Season and producing a total of just 13 points in 9 games throughout the 2005-06 and 2009-10 seasons he had 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds over 5 Top 16 games. – Luka Zoric is back in the Euroleague after two short appearances in the past. In 2005-06 he played two games with Union Olimpija and in 2007-08 played four games with Cibona Zagreb.

ZALGIRIS KAUNAS – CSKA MOSCOW (1 – 9)

Zalgiris Kaunas

– Ilias Zouros succeeded CSKA coach Jonas Kazlauskas as head coach of the Greek national team earlier this year. – Tomas Delininkaitis has made at least 1 three-pointer in each of his last eight Euroleague appearances. – Marko Popovic was a teammate of CSKA center Dimitry Sokolov during the 2008-09 season at Unics Kazan. – Popovic has made at least 1 three-pointer in 22 straight Euroleague appearances. His last Euroleague game without a triple came in November 2006 with – Zalgiris at home against CSKA.

– Popovic has made his 12 free throws attempted in Euroleague action. – Robertas Javtokas was a teammate of CSKA forward Ramunas Siskauskas early in their careers at Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. They played together from 1999 to 2004 and helped Rytas win the Lithuanian League twice and the NEBL title once. Javtokas and Siskauskas later reunited for the 2006-07 season at – Panathinaikos, with whom they won the Euroleague. – Javtokas also played with CSKA big man Darjus Lavrinovic during the 2008-09 season for Dynamo Moscow. – Javtokas recorded 15 points and 7 rebounds to help his team last season, Valencia, to an 82-57 rout of CSKA last November. – Javtokas begins his fifth Euroleague season with his fifth different Euroleague team. – Ty Lawson and Sonny Weems are due to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

CSKA Moscow

– Head coach Jonas Kazlauskas led Zalgiris to its only Euroleague title in 1999. He coached the club for six seasons between 1994 and 2000 and also led it to the 1998 Saporta Cup and four Lithuanian League crowns. – Kazlauskas also coached Zalgiris center Robertas Javtokas for parts of three seasons between 2001 and 2004 at Lietuvos Rytas. – Five CSKA players – Viktor Khryapa, Andrei Kirilenko, Anton Ponkrashov, Alexey Shved and Andrey Vorontsevich – helped the Russian national team claim the bronze medal at EuroBasket 2011 in their last visit to Zalgirio Arena last month.

– Darjus Lavrinovic was named to the 2005-06 All-Euroleague Second Team after his breakthrough season for Zalgiris. Lavrinovic played three seasons for – Zalgiris between 2003 and 2006 and helped the club to back-to-back Lithuanian League titles and one Baltic League crown. – As members of the Lithuanian national team, Lavrinovic and Ramunas Siskauskas have teamed with Zalgiris players Robertas Javtokas, Paulius Jankunas and – Mantas Kalnietis at different events, including the European championships, world championships and Olympic Games since 2004. Siskauskas, Lavrinovic, – Javtokas and Jankunas all helped Lithuania to a bronze medal at EuroBasket 2007.

– Lavrinovic needs 2 more blocks to move into 10th place on the Euroleague Basketball career shots blocked list last week. He has 96 career blocks. – Siskauskas needs 14 more points to overtake Fenerbahce Ulker forward Mirsad Turkcan for 20th place on the all-time Euroleague scoring charts. Siskauskas enters the season with 1,497 points.

– Nenad Krstic makes his Euroleague return after seven seasons away. He scored a career-high 25 points in his last Euroleague game, with Partizan Belgrade against AEK Athens, in February 2004. – Kirilenko returns to the Euroleague after a decade away. He last played in Europe’s premier competition with CSKA at the 2001 Supro league Final Four in Paris.

– Eugeny Voronov is due to make his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut.

BROSE BASKETS – KK ZAGREB (Non European past match – ups)

BROSE

– Anton Gavel made at least one three-pointer in nine out of his 10 appearances in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague last season. – Gavel had a steal in each of his last five Euroleague games played. – Tibor Pleiss blocked at least 2 shots in six of his last seven Euroleague appearances last season. – Brian Roberts has made his last 8 attempted free throws in Euroleague action.

– Last season team captain Casey Jacobsen made more than twice as many three-pointers at home games (14) as he did on the road. – Marcus Slaughter and P.J. Tucker are due to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

KK Zagreb

– Saso Ozbolt will make his first Euroleague appearance for a team other than Union Olimpija after amassing 74 appearances over seven seasons with the Slovenian giants. – Ozbolt has made 11 consecutive free throws in Euroleague action. – Ozbolt has picked up at least 1 steal in 12 of his last 13 Euroleague games.

– Damir Rancic marks his return to the Euroleague after a five-season absence. He played 18 games for Cibona in the 2005-06 campaign. – Mario Kasun spent several seasons playing in Germany early in his career. Kasun joined Koeln 99ers in 2001 and then played for Frankfurt Skyliners from 2002 through 2004. – Josh Heytvelt made his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut last season against Brose Baskets. He came off the bench for one basket for Lottomatica Roma.

– Diante Garrett, Petar Babic, Papa Diasse and Dario Saric are due to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

Group C : PARTIZAN mt:s BELGRADE – ANADOLU EFES ISTANBUL (7 – 7)

PARTIZAN MT:S BELGRADE

– Dusan Kecman played for Efes Pilsen – now Anadolu Efes – during the 2004-05 season. He took part in 15 Euroleague games and helped the club climb within one win of a Final Four berth. He was teammate of current Efes players Ermal Kuqo and Cenk Akyol. – Miroslav Raduljica is spending the season at Partizan on loan from Anadolu Efes, with whom he has a multi-year contract. Raduljica made his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut last season with Efes. He played under head coach Ufuk Sarica and was a teammate of several current Efes players. – Raduljica was a teammate of Anadolu Efes forward Dusko Savanovic on the Serbian national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey. They helped Serbia advance to the semifinals. – Petar Bozic recorded a Euroleague career-high 5 steals against Efes in the 2004-05 regular season finale. Despite his defensive effort, Efes won 49-74 in Belgrade. – Nikola Pekovic scored in double figures in 12 of his last 13 Euroleague appearances. – Acie Law, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marko Cakarevic and Danilo Andusic are due to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

ANADOLU EFES ISTANBUL

– Anadolu Efes went 1-7 on the road last season. Its lone win came against in Belgrade Arena against Partizan in January. Three-time Alphonso Ford Top Scorer – Trophy Winner Igor Rakocevic led Efes to the 76-79 win with 23 points. – Dusko Savanovic has made at least 1 three-pointer in each of his last 12 Euroleague appearances. – Kerem Tunceri has made 12 consecutive free throws in Euroleague action.

– Tarence Kinsey has recorded at least 1 steal in each of his last seven Turkish Airlines Euroleague contests. – Sasha Vujacic , Dogus Balbay and Osman Sirin are due to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

BELGACOM SPIROU – REAL MADRID (1 – 1)

SPIROU

Spirou suffered its worst loss of the season last year at Real Madrid 94-45 in the regular season finale. – Demond Mallet has a streak of 19 consecutive free throws made in Euroleague action. – Justin Hamilton played for Real Madrid at the end of the 2004-05 season. He joined the club in April of that season and helped Madrid win the Spanish championship. Felipe Reyes is the only Madrid player still with the club from Hamilton’s days there. – Dwayne Broyles played alongside Ream Madrid center Ante Tomic early in the center’s career at KK Zagreb between 2005 and 2007. – Tornike Shengelia, Caleb Green, Boris Penninck, Amaury Jadin and Yannick Moray could make their Euroleague debuts this week.

REAL MADRID

– Sergio Rodriguez has a streak of 20 consecutive free throws made in Euroleague games without a miss. – Rudy Fernandez has made at least 1 three-pointer in each of his last 16 Euroleague games played. – Felipe Reyes needs 1 more free throw to reach 400 for his Euroleague career. – Jaycee Carroll is expected to make his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut this week.

EMPORIO ARMANI MILAN – MACCABI ELECTRA TEL AVIV (11 – 9)

EMPORIO ARMANI MILAN

– Milano and Maccabi were the dominant teams in European basketball in the late 1980s. Milano defeated Maccabi in back-to-back Euroleague finals in 1987 and ’88. Milano won the first season 71-69 behind Bob McAdoo and Robert Premier. In 1988 it was 90-84 as McAdoo netted 25. – Omar Cook needs 7 more assists to reach 300 for his Euroleague career.

– Two of Jacopo Giachetti’s Euroleague career highs have come against Maccabi. He played 38 minutes and stole 4 balls while wearing the jersey of Lottomatica Roma in the 2006-07 season. – Antonios Fotsis is one steal from the 100 mark. – Danilo Gallinari scored a Euroleague career-high 27 points against Maccabi in his last game in the competition. Maccabi won that game 91-76 in Tel Aviv back in January 2008.

– Seven of Milano’s eight new signings played in the Euroleague last season: Fotsis, Ioannis Bourousis, Giachetti, Malik Hairston, Omar Cook, Leon Radosevic and Nicholas.

MACCABI ELECTRA TEL AVIV

– David Blu needs 2 more three-pointers to reach 200 for his Euroleague career. He is 16th on the career list. – Blu has made three-pointers in each of his last six Euroleague games. He has made multiple triples in five consecutive games. – Blu also needs 3 assists to reach 100 for his career in this, his ninth Euroleague season. – Theo Papaloukas needs 6 more three-pointers to reach 100 for his Euroleague career. – Tal Burstein needs 7 more assists to reach 300 for his Euroleague career. – Jordan Farmar, Yogev Ohayon, Shawn James and Jon Scheyer could make their Euroleague debuts this week.

Group D: UNION OLIMPIJA LJUBLJANA – FC BARCELONA REGAL (4 – 11)

UNION OLIMPIJA LJUBLJANA

– Aleksander Capin has made 9 consecutive free throws in Euroleague action. – Capin was a teammate of Barcelona’s All-Euroleague big man Erazem Lorbek on the Slovenian national team at EuroBasket 2005 and ’07. – Goran Jagodnik has been a teammate of Lorbek on the Slovenian national team at EuroBasket 2007 and ’09. – Jagodnik came off the bench to score 12 and 13 points in two games against Barcelona in last season’s Top 16. – Danny Green, Deon Thompson, Ben Woodside, Robert Rothbart, Davis Bertans and Jaka Blazic are set to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

FC BARCELONA REGAL

Can Navarro continue his amazing year? (FIBAE)

– Juan Carlos Navarro needs 2 steals to catch Marcus Brown for 10th place on the Euroleague Basketball alltime steals charts. Navarro is currently tied for 11th place with Montepaschi Siena forward Shaun Stonerook with 182 career steals. – Navarro notched a season high of 27 points in a 67-68 win at Olimpija last season in the Top 16. – Erazem Lorbek needs 7 more rebounds to move into the top 20 on the Euroleague Basketball career list. Lorbek has gathered 652 rebounds in his Euroleague career. Tiago Splittter enters the season in 20th place.

– Lorbek grew up with the Union Olimpija junior teams and started playing professionally for the club’s farm teams. – Fran Vazquez needs 16 more points to reach 1,000 for his Euroleague career. He is also just 7 rebounds shy of 500. – Marcelinho Huertas has made at least 1 three-pointer in seven consecutive Turkish Airlines Euroleague games.

ASSECO PROKOM GDYNIA – GALATASARAY (Non European past match – ups)

ASSECO PROKOM GDYNIA

– Prokom has lost its Euroleague season opener in each of the last six seasons. – Adam Hrycaniuk has made his last 10 attempted free throws in Euroleague action dating back to the Top 16 of the 2009-10 season. In fact, Hrycaniuk has made 19 of 20 free throws over the past two seasons. – Devin Brown was a teammate of Galatasaray big man Darius Songaila during the 2009-10 season with New Orleans in the NBA. – Adam Lapeta has blocked 9 shots in his last five Euroleague contests. – Jerel Blassingame, Devin Brown, Alonzo Gee, Michael Kuebler and Przemyslaw Frasunkiewicz are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

GALATASARAY

– Jaka Lakovic needs just 19 points to catch former CSKA star J.R. Holden for fourth place on the Euroleague’s career scoring charts. Lakovic enters the season with 2,369 career points.

– Lakovic needs just 6 more steals to become the eighth player in Euroleague history to rack up 200 career steals. – Jamon Gordon has recorded at least 1 steal in 10 consecutive Euroleague games and can continue his streak with Galatasaray.

– Darius Songaila returns to the Euroleague after eight seasons overseas. His only previous Euroleague season was in 2002-03 with CSKA Moscow when he helped the team reach its first Final Four in what became a streak of eight straight.

– Zaza Pachulia returns to the Euroleague after eight seasons overseas. He last played in the Euroleague for Ulker in the 2002-03 season. – Tutku Acik returns to the Euroleague after six seasons away. His last Euroleague season was with Ulker in 2004-05.

– Ender Arslan needs just 5 more assists to reach 300 for his career. He can soon crack the Euroleague’s career top 20. Pepe Sanchez is 20th with 305 career dishes.

– Josh Shipp, Cevher Ozer, Furkan Aldemir, Sertac Sanli and Caner Topaloglu are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

UNICS – MONTEPASCHI SIENA (3 – 1)

UNICS

– Zakhar Pashutin played alongside Montepaschi Siena guard Nikos Zisis during the 2007-08 season with CSKA Moscow. They won the Euroleague and Russian League titles that season. – Aleksey Savrasenko enters the season tied with Cantu center Denis Marconato for fourth place in the Euroleague career offensive rebounding charts with 279.

– Henry Domercant played for Montepaschi Siena for two seasons between 2008 and 2010. He helped the club win back-to-back Italian League and Cup doubles. He was coached by current Siena boss Simone Pianigiani and played alongside current players Shaun Stonerook, Ksistof Lavrinovic, Tomas Ress, Marco Carraretto and Nikos Zisis. – Petr Samoylenko, Vladimir Veremeenko, Dmitry Golovin, Igor Zamanskiy and Evgeny Cherniavskiy are slated to make their Turkish Airlines Euroleague debuts.

MONTEPASCHI SIENA

– David Andersen was a teammate of Unics Kazan players Zakhar Pashutin and Aleksey Savrasenko between 2004 and 2008 at CSKA Moscow. During their time together, CSKA won the Euroleague twice, the Russian League four times and the Russian Cup three times.

– Andersen needs 4 more free throws to reach 400 for his Euroleague career.

– Shaun Stonerook needs 2 steals to catch Marcus Brown for 10th place on the Euroleague career steals charts. Stonerook enters the season tied for 11th place with Barcelona guard Juan Carlos Navarro with 182 career steals.

– Nikos Zisis needs 6 more three-pointers to reach 100 for his Euroleague career. – Ksistof Lavrinovic needs 7 more steals to reach 100 for his Euroleague career. – Dajuan Summmers is set to make his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut.

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