26 September, 2016
30 April, 2017
4 Rares Andrei Mandache (ROU), 21 Danny Gibson (BUL)
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FIBA Europe Cup: Group F preview

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) – There will be plenty of new faces in Group F of the FIBA Europe Cup, as three of the four clubs were not part of the league last season.

Fans of the competition will already be familiar with Lukoil Academic (BUL), who reached the Round of 32 stage last time around. The other teams in Group F are Slovakian champions BC Prievidza, historic Romanian club Steaua CSM and Bnei Herzliya from Israel.

Bulgarian champs Lukoil Academic return to FIBA Europe Cup

Lukoil Academic continued their dominance in the Bulgarian NBL last season by sweeping Balkan Botevgrad in the Finals to claim an historic 25th national championship title. Over the past 14 seasons, the Sofia powerhouse failed to collect the main domestic trophy only once.

Heading into the new season, the Bulgarian club had big expectations for the Basketball Champions League (BCL) qualifiers, but were eliminated by CSM CSU Oradea (ROU) and thus had to transfer to the FIBA Europe Cup.

Academic will try to put the disappointment of not qualifying for the BCL behind them, by focusing on improving on their last season’s performance in the FIBA Europe Cup, where they qualified for the Round of 32, but couldn’t get past the Second Round.

In terms of the roster, veteran Filip Videnov will be the heart and soul of the team, but a late-blooming Hristo Zahariev and a talented crop of foreigners in Maksym Korniienko, Steve Zack and Danny Gibson will help to carry the load.

The defending Bulgarian champions got off to a positive start of the season by defeating fellow FIBA Europe Cup side Rilski Sportist in the Bulgarian SuperCup.

Prievidza back on the European stage after a decade

Having reclaimed the national title after a three-year break, now four-time Slovak Extraliga champions Prievidza are getting ready for a return to the international stage after a decade spent out of European competitions.

Like their group rivals Lukoil Academic, the Slovakian club took part in the BCL Qualification Round and also could not get past the hump of CSM CSU Oradea, losing the tie 144-131 on aggregate.

This year's European campaign, first in the BCL and now in the FIBA Europe Cup, is the first in a decade for Prievidza, who used to be a regular participant of various FIBA competitions in the nineties.

Marko Batina práve zaznamenal svoj 2000. bod v drese BC Prievidza!!

A photo posted by BC Prievidza (@bcprievidza_official) on


Although the last three editions of the competitive Slovak Extraliga were won by three different teams, the Prievidza club has established itself as one of the main power centres in Slovakian basketball with titles in 2012 and 2016.

When it comes to assessing Prievidza’s prospects for the upcoming season, a lot will rest on the shoulders of their American players Reger Dowell, Andre Jones, Devonne Giles and the Balkan duo of Marko Batina and Rastko Dramicanin.

Steaua CSM EximBank Bucharest turn a new page

One of the historic teams in Romanian basketball, Steaua CSM will be making its debut in the FIBA Europe Cup with an impressive 21 Romanian Liga Nationala titles to its name and ambitions to transfer domestic success to the international stage.

After winning the Regular Season in the domestic championship last season, title favourites Steaua ended up on the wrong side of an upset in the Semi-Final tie against Mures and had to settle for bronze.

Mures also defeated Steaua in similar circumstances in the 2014-15 season Play-Offs as well.

Over the summer, the management of the Bucharest club brought in some big signings in their preparations for the FIBA Europe Cup which should also ensure the same heart-breaking scenario doesn't repeat itself on the home front as well.

Lithuanian guard Marius Runkauskas returns to Romania and will be expected to carry much of the scoring load. Last year’s FIBA Europe Cup stand-out Dave Dudzinski, electric point guard Cameron Long and the Serbian duo of Nikola Jevtovic and Nikola Malasevic will also play key roles for coach Claudiu Fometescu.

Bnei Herzliya could surprise people

Bnei Herzliya might not have a history as rich as other Group F teams or as much silverware in its trophy cabinet in comparison to the likes of Academic or Steaua, but what the Israeli club does have is a roster that will likely see them go far in their debut FIBA Europe Cup campaign.

Having finished seventh in the Regular Season of the Israeli Winner BSL league last season, the Herzliya side lost to the powerhouse club Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Quarter-Finals of the Play-Offs.

Over the summer, the club retained key pieces in Dennis Stephen, Aviram Zelekovits and Danny Rubin, and brought in some bigger and smaller pieces in free agency, namely big man Jeff Adrien who arrived to Israel from China, but has plenty of NBA experience.


Coach Mickey Gorka also expects big things from other newcomers Adom Jacko and Taurean Green and the American-Montenegrin forward Halil Kanacevic, who finished last season playing for Buducnost.

Intriguingly, the son of Maccabi Tel Aviv legend Derrick Sharp, D.J. Sharp, also joined the team over the summer, signing a multi-year deal with Bnei Herzliya.