7 Axel Hervelle (SPIR)
15/10/2018
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Movers and shakers: 10 transfers that could shape FIBA Europe Cup this season

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) – The new FIBA Europe Cup season is just getting underway, but the success of the 32 clubs involved will rest as much on what they did up to this point as it will on their on-court efforts throughout the Regular Season and beyond.

Who made the biggest splash in the off-season? Let's take a look at a list of the hottest acquisitions that have the most potential to move the needle in the competition!

Semih Erden, Istanbul BBSK

After breezing through the Qualifiers, Istanbul BBSK decided to add even more bulk before the start of the Regular Season by acquiring Turkey international Semih Erden. The 32-year-old center joins the Hakan Yavuz-coached side after representing crosstown rivals Besiktas last season. Erden has not played big minutes for a club since his Anadolu Efes days, but he can still be a potent back-to-the-basket threat in the post. The 6ft 11in (2.10m) player will be splitting big man minutes with Shevon Thompson and Damian Kulig, making the Istanbul BBSK frontcourt a force to be reckoned with.

 

Axel Hervelle, Spirou Basket

The name of Axel Hervelle has grown synonymous with Bilbao Basket over the last decade, but nothing lasts forever and the Belgian power forward's time in Spain also came to an end. Having gone abroad as a promising 21-year-old back in 2004, Hervelle is now making the return journey to Belgium with a wealth of experience that he is ready to share with his new Spirou Basket teammates. Even at the age of 35, the big man has a lot to offer for the Charleroi side that was drawn in arguably the toughest Regular Season group with Donar Groningen, Istanbul BBSK and Pinar Karsiyaka.

 

Toney Douglas, Sakarya BSB

New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzles. All in all, Toney Douglas spent seven seasons in the NBA before starting the European chapter of his career with Anadolu Efes last year. Having won the Turkish Cup with the Istanbul club, the 32-year-old guard embraced new challenges by moving to Sakarya BSB, where he will be much higher up the pecking order. An upset by Fribourg Olympic left Douglas' new team outside the Basketball Champions League, but both the club and the player himself will have a chance to redeem themselves in the FIBA Europe Cup.

 

Vitali Liutych, Tsmoki-Minsk

In many regards, Tsmoki-Minsk can be viewed as a mirror reflection of the national team — they are both coached by the same man and feature many of the same players. The differences between the two grew even thinner, with the leader of the national squad Vitaly Liutych joining forces with the Minsk club this summer. Having averaged 12.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game for Enisey Krasnoyarsk in the Basketball Champions League last year, the 26-year-old swingman was one of the key additions of the off-season for Tsmoki, alongside Hungary international Darrin Govens.

 

Gabe Olaseni, s.Oliver Wurzburg

Just over a year ago, Gabe Olaseni finished FIBA EuroBasket 2017 as the most efficient player in the entire tournament. He is once again looking at a major role upon moving to s.Oliver Wurzburg from Fuenlabrada, where he played in more of a supporting capacity. Having begun his professional career in Bamberg and then played in Giessen, the 26-year-old British center returns to Germany after stints in France, Italy and Spain. Effective on both ends of the floor, Olaseni will be a cornerstone piece for the Wurzburg side.

 

Deividas Gailius, Pinar Karsiyaka

Major roster turnover saw Pinar Karsiyaka invest their hopes in former FIBA Europe Cup standouts Assem Marei and Erving Walker ahead of the new campaign, but it is Deividas Gailius who could prove to be the team's biggest off-season scoop if he manages to stay healthy. Valued for his positional versatility and offensive acumen, the 6ft 7in (2.00m) player has been on and off with the Lithuanian national team since winning FIBA EuroBasket 2015 silver in France. The 30-year-old forward arrives to Izmir from Burgos in Spain, having also played in top-tier clubs in Lithuania, Italy and Slovenia.

 

Kaloyan and Deyan Ivanov, Levski Lukoil 

Nothing shows Levski Lukoil mean business in their European return like bringing in longtime Bulgarian national team players Deyan and Kaloyan Ivanov. The 32-year-old twin towers from Varna played together in a number of clubs — including a short spell at Levski — at the start of their career but have not had the chance to do so since representing their hometown club Cherno More Varna in the 2005-06 season. Together again in Sofia, the big men will form the team's backbone on and off the court. Their toughness, rebounding and the ability to punish opponents both inside and out will be a big boost for the Bulgarian title holders.

Dardan Berisha, Z Mobile Prishtina

It is hard to bundle Dardan Berisha's return to Z Mobile Prishtina together with the other high-profile moves of the summer because he actually played for the team last season before a mid-season move to CEZ Nymburk. Before leaving, the Kosovar star averaged 16.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists in the FIBA Europe Cup and it would not at all be a stretch to expect similar numbers this year. There are few players in the competition, who can put points on the board like Berisha, although it sometimes comes at a cost of efficiency.

 

Jack Cooley, Dinamo Sassari

If you read our 10 players to watch in the Qualifiers piece, you will surely be aware of Jack Cooley. The Dinamo Sassari big man has already shown himself to be a game-changing summer acquisition with a pair of impressive performances against SL Benfica in Qualification Round 2. Having combined for 21 points in just 29 minutes of playing time, the 6ft 9in (2.06m) center went to the free-throw line a total of 16 times over the two legs. The force-of-nature big man had a two-way contract with the Sacramento Kings for the 2017-18 season but spent most of his time with their G-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns.


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