19 September, 2017
02 May, 2018
14/10/2017
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Group D: Can Basic-Fit Brussels, Balkan or Keravnos steal the spotlight from Egis Kormend?

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - Early season form suggests Egis Kormend will likely be the team to beat in Group D of the FIBA Europe Cup, with the Gasper Potocnik-coached Hungarian side torching their opponents in the Qualification Rounds.

They will come up against opposition from the always-improving Basic-Fit Brussels, a once-powerful BC Balkan from Bulgaria, as well as Cypriot club Keravnos, who are making their European return.

Having come to life when coach Potocnik took office midway through last season, Kormend reached the Round of 16 and will have a target on their backs as the early front-runners with momentum. 

BASIC-FIT BRUSSELS

The up-and-coming Belgian club Basic-Fit Brussels got their first taste of international basketball last year in the FIBA Europe Cup and they are back for more with a little bit more experience.

The Brussels side surprised some people by eliminating Telenet Antwerp Giants in the Belgian EuroMillions Basketball League Semi-Finals last year, setting a new milestone in the club's history with a first-ever Finals appearance.

A successful season opened up opportunities elsewhere for trusted leaders Chris Dowe and Brandon Ubel, but there are enough returning faces to mark continuity as one of the team's strengths in the upcoming campaign.

In terms of incoming players, the acquisitions of K.T. Harrell from Mens Sana 1871 and Brandon Peterson from Dijon stand out as the big summer moves for Basic-Fit Brussels, who will be looking to improve on their 1-5 record in the FIBA Europe Cup last season.


Domien Loubry will be an important player for Basic-Fit Brussels

Star Player: K.T. Harrell
Top Prospects: Jonas Foerts; Niels Foerts
Path to the Regular Season: lost to MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in BCL QR3 (-51)
European Record in 2016-17: 1-5 in the FIBA Europe Cup, Regular Season
Domestic Performance in 2016-17: Belgian EuroMillions League runners-up – 3rd in the Regular Season; lost 3-1 to Oostende in the Finals

BC BALKAN

There are lucky losers and there are very lucky losers and BC Balkan can definitely be classified as the latter after falling to Falco Vulcano in the FIBA Europe Cup Qualification Round 2 but edging out Petrolina AEK for the last ticket to the Regular Season in a tie-breaker.

The Devin Brooks-led Botevgrad side demonstrated they belong in the competition by defeating last year's Basketball Champions League participants CSM CSU Oradea in the previous round, even without the injured Hristo Zahariev.

The 26-year-old Bulgaria international was supposed to be the club's main scoop, but he will be sidelined for at least another month of action after fracturing his hand during preparations for the season.

One of the most iconic clubs in the country, Balkan will be trying to reestablish itself in the forefront of Bulgarian basketball with its European return after decades on the sidelines.


Devin Brooks has carried the team on his back in the absence of Hristo Zahariev

Star Player: Hristo Zahariev
Top Prospect: Alexander Iliev
Path to the Regular Season: Defeated CSM CSU Oradea in the FIBA Europe Cup QR1 (+1); lost to Falco Vulcano in the FIBA Europe Cup QR2 (-11)
European Record in 2016-17: N/A
Domestic Performance in 2016-17: 6th place in the Bulgarian NBL Regular Season – lost to Rilski Sportist 2-1 in the Quarter-Finals; third place in the Bulgarian Cup

EGIS KORMEND

Egis Kormend are the only team to arrive to Group D on a winning note after passing the FIBA Europe Cup Qualification Rounds with flying colors and winning all four early season international encounters.

This will already be the third FIBA Europe Cup campaign for the Hungarians, who finally reached the Round of 16 last season after failing to make it out of the Regular Season in the inaugural edition of the competition in 2015-16.

Having seen three of their leaders in Terry Allen, Parrish Petty and Lenzelle Smith move to bigger leagues, Kormend brought in a new group of American imports headlined by Eric Fanning, Marquis Wright and Andre Hollins, who have already proved their credentials in the Qualifiers.

It would be impossible to imagine the club without its symbol and captain Csaba Ferencz, who is coming off a strong showing at FIBA EuroBasket 2017. In addition to his on-court presence, it will be up to the 32-year-old shooting guard, who has spent his entire career with his hometown club, to keep the newcomers on the same page in the locker room.


Eric Fanning was unstoppable in the Qualification Rounds

Star Player: Csaba Ferencz
Top Prospects: Akos Nemeth; Bence Oroszi
Path to the Regular Season: Defeated Kormend in the FIBA Europe Cup QR1 (+30); defeated Steaua Bucuresti in the FIBA Europe Cup QR2 (+17)
European Record in 2016-17: 7-6 in the FIBA Europe Cup, Round of 16
Domestic Performance in 2016-17: 4th place in the Hungarian Division A — lost to 3-0 to Fulcano Vulcano in the Semi-Finals; lost to ZTE KK 2-0 in the Third-Place Series;

KERAVNOS

Keravnos Strovolou will make a long-awaited return to European basketball this year, having reclaimed the Cypriot title last season after nearly a decade-long drought in the domestic championship.

It will be a FIBA Europe Cup debut for the Nicosia side but their resume does have some international accolades, with the club reaching the title decider in the FIBA EuroCup Challenge in 2007.

The yellow-and-reds are the only Cypriot team in any sport to reach the Final of a major European competition. They last participated internationally back in the 2012-13 season, with a 2-4 record proving not enough to advance from the FIBA EuroChallenge Regular Season.

Ahead of their European return, Keravnos retained their top-scorer in 32-year-old forward Mohamed Abukar, as well as two more important players in Terell Parks and Kenny Barker, while also signing Theron Bussey from APOEL Nicosia.


Mohamed Abukar led Keravnos in scoring during their title run

Star Player: Mohamed Abukar
Top Prospects: N/A
Path to the Regular Season: Lost to Avtodor Saratov in the BCL QR1 (-7)
European Record in 2016-17: N/A
Domestic Performance in 2016-17: Cyprus Basketball Division A champions — 1st in the Regular Season; defeated Petrolina AEK 3-0 in the Finals
European Trophies: FIBA Europe Cup Conference South bronze medalists (2005);  FIBA EuroCup Challenge runners-up (2007)

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