May 15, 2013 6:38 PM EDT
After 24 years of coaching in Germany, Dirk Bauermann had to leave his home country and move to Eastern Europe for the first time in his career.
The nine-time German champion and former coach of the Germany national team landed a job in Poland this season as head coach of its national team and also took over the coaching position in Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius, Lithuania.
RealGM sat down with Bauermann in Vilnius to talk about the changes in his life, time with Lietuvos Rytas, German basketball, Dirk Nowitzki, his new role with Poland national team and much more.
RealGM: First of all, I've heard that Toronto Raptors' assistant general manager Maurizio Gherardini was the person who helped you to get in touch with Lietuvos Rytas. Could you tell me how did you end up signing a contract with Lietuvos Rytas?
Bauermann: Well, he called me and said that he had helped the club in many different ways and they had asked him for advise in terms of who to look at for a possible replacement for the old coach. He [Maurizio Gherardini] recommended me, we have known each other for a long time. He was the GM in Treviso and we played against them with both, Bamberg and Leverkusen, in the Euroleague. He recommended me to them and I guess they had me on the radar as well. They called me and it didn't take long to come to an agreement. The negotiating process took only one or two days. I had been waiting for the right situation, a top professional European team and seemed to be a good fit.
RealGM: After joining Lietuvos Rytas, you definitely found things you liked or didn't like. Could you name the positives and negatives of the situation you found in Vilnius?
Bauermann: The one thing that I didn't like was all that snow. Even at the beginning of April, we had minus 10 degrees in Celsius at night. Other than that, it has been very good three weeks here. Fans in Vilnius welcomed me with open arms because it's a basketball country. I was happy about the positive reception. The club is very professional and the only purpose is to win. Everybody is investing in winning and I really like our team. We have a young group, which invested in winning and so far everything is good.
Of course, before I came here, I looked at the tons of video. After I signed here, I looked at even more video. I just thought that the team had room for improvement at the defensive end of the floor. They needed to develop a collective identity. I thought that working a lot on defensive fundamentals, schemes, rotations we could then develop team identity. Something we can base our game on. That was the first cornerstone sort of speak of what I've tried to do here.
RealGM: In the Germian media, you've mentioned that you're the first German to come to work for a Lithuanian basketball team. What does it personally mean to you?
Bauermann: I think it's a sign of respect for myself, which I appreciate, but it's also a kind of respect for German basketball. Europe recognize that we're not just a soccer country. And we're not a country that just has [Dirk] Nowitzki and that's it. We have good players, good coaches and hopefully I'll be able to open the door for other coaches. Hopefully that will be a side effect of signing here.
RealGM: Is there a thing or two that Lithuanian basketball could learn from Germany?
Bauermann: I would never say what somebody could learn from somebody else. They have to decide. But I think German basketball has grown in the last few years a lot. Because first, the league is very strong and well governed. The management of the league (BBL) is at very high level and they do a very good job. We have great infrastructure and all the gyms are pretty much brand new. Also in Germany, you have a very interesting loyal fan base. The basketball community is tremendous. Almost all the games are sold out on the regular basis. The normal sports fan is not interested in basketball, that's the difference. In the States, they are interested in football, baseball, basketball or even hockey. And they have preferences and they watch one sport more than the other. In Germany, the regular sports fan is a soccer fan, who doesn't care about basketball. That's the problem. Like I said, the league is very strong and professional, teams are doing a good job. And what I think that really helped is the fact that we have gone from possibly having 12 Americans on your roster to now six-max, which I think was a really important step.
RealGM: You've been coaching one of the most ambitious European teams, Bayern Munich for two seasons. Bayern is well known for its soccer team, but they haven been declaring intentions to establish itself on elite European basketball scene as well.
Bauermann: Obviously, being one of the biggest clubs in Europe, I think you can legitimately compare them to Real Madrid or Barcelona. It was a huge step for German basketball that they decided to focus not only on soccer, but also start developing basketball as well. The club has great recourses and they really want to do it. They can easily build a Final Four Euroleague team. They have money, resources and sponsorship. And also the city is great and is made for basketball. Another question is what are the goals. Do they just want to play in the Euroleague or do they want to become one of the top basketball teams in Europe and compete for championships. That's what they do in soccer and if they decide they want to be in basketball where Real Madrid and Barcelona is now, they can very easily do that, that's not a problem. So far, the program has grown very quickly. The gym is nice, the fan support has been great and sky is the limit for them.
RealGM: Taking you back to Lithuania, one of Lietuvos Rytas' players, Nemanja Nedovic, might be drafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. So far, what's your opinion on Nedovic?
Bauermann: Nemanja definitely has NBA potential, there's no question. He's super athletic, but a lot of guards are. It's important to be athletic, especially in the NBA, but more importantly he has tremendous court vision and scoring ability, which is important nowadays in modern basketball. He's not just a scoring point guard, who dominates the ball and makes everybody around him fall asleep. He has a very good feel when to take over and when to be distribute and facilitate. He's still young and it's a difficult position to play, but I think most importantly he needs to make a personal commitment to the defensive end of the floor. With his athletic ability and his instincts, he can dominate the game on the defensive end. But it must be something that he wants to do. And then I think he can be a very complete and a very good NBA guard.
RealGM: On his latest interview to RealGM, Nedovic said that Lithuanian and Serbian basketball school is pretty much similar, while your coaching style reminds him American basketball style. Could you explain that?
Bauermann: Obviously, what I do is in terms of general approach to the game that we're taking, it's definitely a European approach, a very team and defense oriented. I shouldn't say that American teams aren't [playing] pass oriented, not off the dribble, not a whole one-on-one, but like a team game. Obviously, there are a lot of American teams who play like that. I think if you look how NBA teams play. Nobody moves the ball better than Miami Heat or executes better in half court than San Antonio Spurs. I think it's almost unfair to say that the American game is more individual or more off the dribble. But I think it's probably more about how I carry myself and how I relate to the players. That sort of things. Not the basketball part as much, but how I relate with players, how I coach them and how I try to get most out of them.
RealGM: In your opinion, what the future holds for German national team after the retirement of Nowitzki?
Bauermann: I think we have an up-and-coming generation of players that turn 23 or 24 this year and will be a foundation for our national team for years. Tim Ohlbrecht is the oldest one of that group and he's now with the Houston Rockets. And then you have five-six players, who in couple years will definitely be Euroleague level or even NBA - Tibor Pleiss, Ohlbrecht, Robin Benzing, Philipp Schwethelm, Ellias Harris, who might be drafted, Bastian Doreth and Per Gunther. It's very balanced and it's not like four big guys and no shooters. We have a really good balance and I think sky is the limit for our national team. I gave them first opportunity to play national basketball when they were 19-year-old. They played in U20 European championship and two days later they were in the national team's training camp. Later they all played in EuroBasket 2009, 2010 FIBA Worlds and EuroBasket 2011. Now they're all national team players and the future looks very bright.
RealGM: You had a chance to work with Nowitzki for such a long time. Could you name at least few things what you've learned from Nowitzki?
Bauermann: I think the main thing they see is that you can be a world's superstar, but it doesn't have to change who you are as a person. That's number one. So to turn nose up is not a good thing. I think they all learned from Dirk that you can be a humble person, a regular guy, who is friendly to everybody, to the kids, just be a normal person and still be a superstar. Second thing that I think they learned was an unbelievable work ethic. You practice hard, you try to win every drill and scrimmage. And you always work extra - after every practice he stayed longer and worked on his outside shot, obviously. A lot of players and coaches talk and say things, but to me talk is cheap, it's what you do. He lead these young men by example. By being humble and normal, and talking to them. He showed them how really you need to a professional, how hard you need to work. The dedication and making winning your only priority, not the stats. In German basketball, we could not have asked a better role model.
RealGM: We all heard many stories about Nowitzki's work ethic, but is there anything specific about his training?
Bauermann: I think he does some drills with Holger Geschwindner, his mentor and coach, that were specifically designed to help him, being a 7-footer, balance his mobility, technique, but more importantly, his footwork and balance. Those things are unusual, but very well designed and very creative. You have to give Holger a lot of credit for Dirk's development.
RealGM: Do you think that humbleness is what separate Nowitzki from other superstars and makes him so popular?
Bauermann: I don't know many superstars, but Chris Kaman was the same way. He was a cool guy, very coachable and fun to be around. I can't say, but I know that he's one of the most pleasant, humble and smartest players that I ever coached.
RealGM: Moving to your other new position as a head coach of Polish national team, how did you end up landing a job there?
Bauermann: They contacted and they obviously they knew me from all those championships. They liked how I coached and how my teams play. It didn't take long to come to an agreement. It's a lot of fun to coach at EuroBasket. You play against some of the best teams, players and coaches. With that regard, it was kind of no-brainer for me. Plus, I think the team really has a lot of potential. I think it has a really good combination of older guys, who both played in the NBA and Euroleague level. Maciej Lampe, for example, is having the best season in his career with Caja Laboral. But also we have a really good generation of young players, who were born in 1993. [Przemek] Karnowski, [Tomasz] Gielo, [Mateusz] Ponitka. I think it will be fun to work with both these young guys same as with very good veteran type players.
RealGM: How do you look at this job in Poland - as a challenge or as an opportunity to archive great results?
Bauermann: With the results, you never know. If you base it on that, you could be quickly disappointed. I think you have to base it on substance, level of commitment that the team and federation have, people that are responsible. People in the federation are great and it's all about the people, professionalism and commitment to winning. Like I said, EuroBasket is a tremendous challenge, our group is very difficult. It's just fun to work at the highest level.
RealGM: Some time ago Marcin Gortat and Lampe made a commitment to play for Poland in the upcoming EuroBasket 2013. What was your reaction to this?
Bauermann: I talked to both of them. I talked to Gortat and he played in past summers. So with him it was never a question. Lampe had some problems last summers because he had bad ankle. I talked to him and I told him what the plans are and how important I thought he was for the team success. He immediately told me he's coming and just tell me when I need to be there.
Apr 18, 2013 10:57 PM EDT
Nemanja Nedovic is projected as a mid-second round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by Draft Express. As is to be expected for a talent young player, Nedovic was a yo-yo guy in his debut Euroleague season. The 21-year-old athletically gifted guard had many ups and downs, from a slow start to 16 points performance against Partizan.
But after making changes to the coaching staff, Nedovic’s adjustment to the top level was accelerated and he received more playing time. One of the most talented European point guards, Nedovic averaged 23 minutes per game in the Euroleague this season, averaging 9.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
However, recently Lietuvos Rytas again swapped their coaches by hiring Dirk Bauermann. Despite it's unusual practice, Nedovic says he already experienced that before and knows how to handle the transition. A member of the Serbian national team, Nedovic told RealGM that he has had 12 different coaches since 2007.
RealGM sat down with Nedovic in Vilnius to talk about his first season with Lietuvos Rytas, development in the Euroleague, his NBA dream and much more.
RealGM: First of all, could you talk about your first season with Lietuvos Rytas in general and how you developed your game in Lithuania?
Nedovic: I think it was the right move to come to Lietuvos Rytas. We all know it's a good club, which plays in great competition, Euroleague and VTB league. It was a good decision to come here. Talking about my game, I tried to develop every part of it, especially on the defensive end. With coach Dirk Bauermann here, I am working very hard on that part of my game. Also, I'm trying to improve my playmaking and shooting skills, and pretty much everything around that.
RealGM: You had a slow start this year, but later your role got much bigger. Did you foresee that happening?
Nedovic: As you said, the start of the season was a bit slow because I had to adapt. I'm still 21 years old and I'm not that experienced. It was a little bit hard to be away from home, but everything is fine now and it feels like home now.
RealGM: I heard that one of the reasons you signed with Lietuvos Rytas was head coach Aleksandar Dzikic who later got fired. Did you find it ironic that after the reason you got here, you started to receive more playing time after he left?
Nedovic: Maybe, but coach Dzikic was here when I just arrived. Like I said, it was a situation when I had to adapt and get to know my teammates. It was normal that I didn't play much at the beginning. As the season went along, I started to spend more time on the court. And now I feel very comfortable.
RealGM: Could you distinguish any games this season in which you learned the most this year?
Nedovic: All Euroleague games are special, because you learn from every single of them. If I have to choose one game, that would be a game against Partizan in Belgrade. It was special for me because I played in Belgrade again and it was a pretty much good game.
RealGM: As a former Crvena Zvezda player, did you feel hard-feelings at that game from Partizan fans?
Nedovic: I think I didn't leave a strong impression back then because I was young. And even though I played a lot games against them, I never had any conflicts or bad situations with them. They might remember my good games, but there's nothing negative involved in that.
RealGM: In your last season with Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) under coach Svetislav Pesic, you didn't receive much playing time. Could you explain why that happened?
Nedovic: We had a hard season in general, because before that I played at the point guard position for my whole career, even if it's pretty much short yet, but then coach Pesic moved me to play shooting guard. It was a little bit hard and the fans expected 30 minutes and 20 points per game from me. A year before that, Crvena Zvezda was almost disappearing and I was playing a lot, and everybody expected to happen the same again under coach Pesic. However, it was not possible because there were many good players, the system was different and the level of competition was different as well. The goals of the club were higher too. I still think I've improved a lot last year because the coach pushed me to work on my defense and my weaknesses. Despite not playing much, I still had good games. I believe I've improved my game and I cannot be disappointed.
RealGM: Until now, you have been playing under three different coaches this season. Could you name the differences between Lithuanian, Serbian and German basketball schools?
Nedovic: I would say that Lithuanian and Serbian basketball schools are pretty much the same. But the German school is more like an American school. I would not like to name the differences between the coaches because it is not up to me. Coach [Aleksandar] Dzikic, Darius [Maskoliunas] and Dirk [Bauermann] have their own qualities and I would not like to talk about it. But three coaches in one season - that is very strange. I've been counting two days ago that since 2007 I had 12 different coaches. I have no problems on adapting to new coaches, but I would like to stay under one coach for at least one season.
RealGM: Last season you signed a three-year contract with Lietuvos Rytas. Do you still think that signing a long-term deal was a good decision?
Nedovic: Yes, it was a very good decision. As I mentioned in the beginning, this is the right place to be for me. I have an option to go to the NBA after the season, but it's too early to talk about it yet. I feel very comfortable here and it feels like home.
RealGM: Many NBA scouts came to see you playing this season. What kind of feedback have they usually left?
Nedovic: I think NBA scouts are not allowed to talk to the players, but they did communicate with Tomi [Zubcic] and Milt [Palacio]. They told me that NBA scouts came to see me but nothing specific. However, it's a big honor and a big thing. The NBA is the best league in the world and it's great to know that NBA scouts are coming to Vilnius to see me play.
RealGM: Overall, are you a big fan of the NBA?
Nedovic: Actually, I am. I've been following the league since 2002. My dream is to play in the NBA, but first I need to finish this season and stay focused on Lietuvos Rytas. Then we could talk about the NBA Draft.
RealGM: When you watch NBA games, do you catch yourself thinking, 'if I were him, I would do this or that'?
Nedovic: I had moments when I was thinking how I would react in a particular situation. But honestly, I even haven't worked out with the NBA teams yet. After I finish the season, I'll have my first workouts with NBA teams and I'll see what is it about. I will see if I'm ready or not. But sometimes I was thinking what I would do if I'm in the game.
RealGM: Are you looking forward to this offseason and NBA workouts?
Nedovic: I still don't know which workouts I will participate in. All I know is that after I finish the season, I'll be practicing in Belgrade and then I'll go to Adidas EuroCamp in Treviso. I think after Treviso I'll go to NBA workouts, but I still don't know where.
RealGM: Are you going to play for the Serbian national team as well?
Nedovic: If the coach of Serbian national team calls me, I will be there. I think the pre-camp starts on the 25th of June and if my name is on the list, I'm going to be there. My summer is going to be busy, but at the same time, I'm looking forward to it. Honestly, I can't wait to go home, but I'm going to work very hard, I have to work on my individual skills and summer is the best time to work on your body and skills.
RealGM: With the Serbian national team, you've been playing together with Milos Teodosic, who is considered one of the top point guards in Europe. What have you learned from playing alongside Teodosic?
Nedovic: I've learned a lot. He helped me a lot, same as all guys because our national team is very experienced, [Dusko] Savanovic, [Nenad] Krstic, Teodosic. They are good and experienced guys and you can learn a lot from them, especially from Milos. We play at the same position and I can agree that he's one of the top point guards in Europe.
RealGM: How close are the players on the Serbian national team? Do you guys stay in touch with each other all season long?
Nedovic: I stay in touch with almost everybody. Even from Partizan. I have few friends from Partizan and we stay in touch all the time. And on the national team, there are older guys who always pick up the phone whenever I call them.
RealGM: Is there anything specific you enjoy about living and playing basketball in Vilnius, Lithuania?
Nedovic: It's very impressive how much people love basketball here. Before I came here, I didn't know that, but now I see how much people love Lietuvos Rytas and Zalgiris here, or any other club. Wherever we go, the gym is almost always full. Also Vilnius is a nice city, not too big or small. Just the weather… But my teammates say it's going to be nicer [laughing].
Sep 06, 2012 2:46 PM EDT
The 2012-13 Euroleague regular season will begin on October 19th and here are RealGM's preseason power rankings.
1. CSKA Moscow (Russia)
The absence of Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved will definitely be felt, but the return of head coach Ettore Messina and the acquisition of one of the best Euroleague rookies of 2011-12 season, Sonny Weems, maintains CSKA as the most talented team in Euroleague. Also, it's going to be the second season in Russia for Serbians Milos Teodosic and Nenad Krstic, who together with Weems should lead CSKA to the Final Four.
2. FC Barcelona Regal (Spain)
FC Barcelona Regal clearly suffered some serious losses this offseason as one of the most versatile Euroleague players, Chuck Eidson, left for Unics and two big men moved south to Unicaja Malaga. Barcelona didn’t shock the market by making huge signings, but that’s what their front office usually does. The Catalonians managed to re-sign RealGM’s last season’s All-Euroleague 1st Team member Erazem Lorbek, who together with elite point guard Marcelinho Huertas, healthy Juan Carlos Navarro and Olympic surprise Joe Ingles might help FC Barcelona Regal make another Final Four appearance.
3. Real Madrid (Spain)
Real’s time has finally come. It has been 18 years since Real won its last Euroleague title and this year Pablo Laso’s team has the best chance they have had in years. This season’s Real is very versatile, having the pieces to go all the way to the top. They are both young and experienced, explosive and dangerous, which by adding Rudy Fernandez this offseason might become unstoppable in every league they’ll compete in the 12-13 season.
4. Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul (Turkey)
It seems that Montepaschi Siena was relocated to Turkey and that’s good news for Fenerbahce Ulker fans. Fenerbahce Ulker managers opened their pockets to bring former Montepaschi players David Andersen, Romain Sato, Bo McCalebb and coach Simone Pianigiani. These pieces have experience together, therefore Fenerbahce Ulker should find a winning path straight away. Everybody in Europe knows that McCalebb, who signed a three-year deal with the Turkish team, is a game changer and a Euroleague Final Four is probably not so far away for Fenerbahce Ulker.
5. Olympiacos Piraeus (Greece)
After a stunning performance in last season’s Final Four, current Euroleague champion Olympiacos is no longer an underdog. Every team will treat Olympiacos as a champion and the expectations for the Greeks will be sky high. Despite the departure of head coach Dusan Ivkovic, Olympiacos managed to maintain the core of the team and especially the key Greek players from the last season - Vassilis Spanoulis, Georgios Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou, and American Kyle Hines.
6. Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
Maccabi is clearly not the same dominant team as it was in 2004 or 2005, but they are one of only few who remained elite for years and are always among top candidates to claim the title. Before the start of the season, Maccabi doesn’t seem to be at the same line with Europe’s best (CSKA and FC Barcelona Regal), but David Blatt and his players are capable of beating the odds and making a long run in this year’s Euroleague.
7. Unicaja Malaga (Spain)
Unicaja has been struggling for years in the Euroleague tournament but there are signs that the dark days for Malaga basketball might be over. Unicaja, which won only five out of 24 games in the Top 16 in last four years, had to say goodbye to its team face Joel Freeland and 11 other players and build a new team from the ground up. Luka Zoric, Fran Vazquez and Kosta Perovic will form one of the best frontcourts in the league, which will be the key strength of Unicaja.
8. Montepaschi Siena (Italy)
Life after Bo McCalebb won’t be easy and Montepaschi is about to experience that. Montepaschi completely changed its team by almost completely turning over its roster and starting a new page. Montepaschi managers had to say goodbye to Siena’s biggest stars and its leader McCalebb, who had been Montepaschi’s key player since 2010. As other teams’ experience shows, it takes years to build a winning Euroleague team, therefore patience might be an essential thing for this year’s Montepaschi.
9. EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (Italy)
After years of disappointments, EA7 Emporio Armani was finally very close to making the Top 8 last season and this year’s team looks even more impressive. It seems the managers of Olimpia Milano did their best on bringing an elite player, such as Keith Langford, and missing pieces like Gianluca Basile and Richard Hendrix. EA7 Emporio Armani hasn’t looked this strong for many years and this might be the best chance for Sergio Scariolo and his guys to break their team's curse of Euroleague.
10. Panathinaikos Athens (Greece)
The post-Obradovic era begins. Nine new players and more to come as Panathinaikos was completely rebuilt this offseason. The wind of changes came when eight-time Euroleague champion Zeljko Obradovic, who coached Panathinaikos since 1999, stepped down and 11 players left the team as well. One of two players who stayed in Athens, Dimitris Diamantidis and new coach Argyris Pedoulakis is in a very difficult position as it might take more than a season to build a strong relationship between players and bring Panathinaikos back on the winning path.
11. Caja Laboral Vitoria (Spain)
The biggest upset of the last season, Caja Laboral do not have any reasons to be very optimistic about this year as well. Two key players, Euroleague leading points per game scorer Mirza Teletovic and team assist leadser Pablo Prigioni left the Spanish organization for the NBA and Caja Laboral struggles to find a proper replacement. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see group C’s Caja Laboral missing Top 16 for the second straight season.
12. Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania)
Similar to last season, Zalgiris formed a solid roster for the Euroleague tournament and seems to be a Top 8 team on paper. But Zalgiris fans know the best that it's way too early to celebrate and there's nothing to be excited about before the Top 16 starts. Statistics don't lie: over the last nine years, Zalgiris won only seven and lost 35 games in the Top 16 stage. Despite how good Zalgiris' roster seemed to be, Kaunas won just four matches in Top 16 since 2004 and holds an awful 4-32 record.
13. Khimki Moscow region
Eurocup winner Khimki formed its team the earliest among all Euroleague clubs and signed all players even before the beginning of the summer. Khimki didn’t spend as much money as they did in the past, but Rimas Kurtinaitis’ team should repeat their success in 2009-10 and make it out of the group with the talent they have.
14. Anadolu Efes Istanbul
‘Born to lose’ are the first three words, which came to my mind when I hear the name Anadolu Efes Istanbul. It didn’t matter how many top European players Istanbul had on its roster, they have always failed to meet expectations. The main reason is that chemistry is something money can’t buy. However, Anadolu Efes will have another shot to make a long run this season, as they’ll have future MVP candidate Jordan Farmar on their side and many other individually great players. As always.
15. Besiktas Istanbul (Turkey)
No doubt, last season was amazing for Besiktas and their fans as Istanbul club won three titles - Turkish league, Turkish Cup and EuroChallenge (the third best European competition). It was simply the gold age for the Turkish team, but this year’s Besiktas will be different as day and night. The whole starting five left the club and that doesn’t mean anything good for Besiktas.
16. Cedevita Zagreb (Croatia)
It’s not a secret that the last two seasons weren’t the best for Croatian basketball, but it seems Cedevita is here to change the things. Definitely, Cedevita wasn’t the luckiest club on the Euroleague draw day as they would probably like to be anywhere but in group C. However, the Croatian team’s managers did nice work this offseason by building a versatile team with few well-known names, who are good enough to shake things up make a mess in group C.
17. Brose Baskets Bamberg (Germany)
Brose Baskets proved that German basketball can compete with the Europe’s best clubs and last season was just one step away from making to the Top 16. During the offseason, Brose Baskets lost some very important pieces and is going to be quite a challenge for Chris Fleming to build a winning team with the guys he has now.
18. Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)
As usual, Partizan will be a team to watch this season. The Serbian club will have many well-known talents on its roster. Davis Bertans, Dejan Musli, Leo Westermann, Bogdan Bogdanovic have proved themselves in youth tournaments and now it’s time to demonstrate their capabilities on the big scene. Moreover, coach Dusko Vujosevic, who led Partizan to the Final four in 09-10, is back in Belgrade. The 24-year-old Marko Cakarevic is currently the oldest player on the team, but it is surely going to be fun to watch how talented and hungry Partizan will try to find its way out of the group D.
19. Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (Lithuania)
One of the two best Lithuanian teams, Lietuvos Rytas is known for signing less-known players and making the most out of them. This season is going to be a no exception as Lietuvos Rytas lost its biggest star, Jonas Valanciunas, and didn't add any elite players to its squad. Even with the roster as it is now, Lietuvos Rytas, is capable of making it out of the group but might lack talent to shake things up in the Top 16.
20. Alba Berlin (Germany)
It’s been a while since Alba won its last title and it seems the hype from making to the Euroleague Top 16 in 08-09 disappeared. Even after being awful last season, Alba got a chance to play in the Euroleague, where their chances are really limited. Nevertheless, everything is possible in group B for Alba, especially with the support they’ll have at home games.
21. Elan Chalon (France)
French teams has always been like tourists in the Euroleague and Elan Chalon will probably be no exception. On the other hand, Elan Chalon made one of the most interesting signings this offseason in six-year NBA veteran Shelden Williams. Of course, it would be a no-braner to believe Williams could carry Elan Chalon on his back to the Top 16 stage, but he could make some serious problems for group D underdogs, Asseco Prokom and Alba.
22. Asseco Prokom Gdynia (Poland)
The previous two seasons were horrible for Asseco Prokom and it seems that the Polish team is heading for a third one. New head coach Kestutis Kemzuras will have a very difficult task to build a winning team from very average players. Also, Asseco Prokom will be missing its biggest star, Donatas Motiejunas, who moved to Houston Rockets, and for now, there’s no such player, who could replace Motiejunas and become a leader of the team.
23. Union Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Last season’s worst team, Union Olimpija, didn’t do much this offseason to avoid the same situation this year. Ljubljana’s team lost all its best players and the new additions look more like a lottery than a promising future. It seems that Union Olimpija don’t have financial problems anymore and that might be club’s biggest victory of the offseason.
Nov 29, 2011
Sonny Weems was one of the best players to go to Europe without an NBA-out. The 7th best scorer in Euroleague explains why he picked Europe instead of China and discusses the Raptors.
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