19 September, 2017
02 May, 2018
1 Ilari Seppälä (FIN)
to read

Kataja Basket, Mornar, FC Porto and ece Bulls all eyeing the throne in Group C

MUNICH (FIBA Europe Cup) - Four sets of eyes will be eyeing the Group C throne in the FIBA Europe Cup, with Kataja Basket, Mornar Bar, FC Porto and Kapfenberg ece Bulls all hoping to come out victorious from an evenly-matched quartet.

Featuring the champions of Finland and Austria as well as runners-up in Montenegro and Portugal, someone is bound to be left disappointed in the group when they fall short in the race for the two tickets to the Second Round.

Three of the teams – Kataja, Porto and ece Bulls — have already participated in the FIBA Europe Cup in the past, while Mornar will become the first Montenegrin team to take part.


Kataja Basket had a short two-game stint in the FIBA Europe Cup last year after transferring from the Basketball Champions League after the Regular Season, eliminated by Telekom Baskets in the Round of 16.

This year, it was the same German club who sent them packing to the FIBA Europe Cup in the last qualification barrier before the Basketball Champions League.

Having won the Finnish title last year, the Joensuu club had a lot of work to do during the summer, losing go-to scorers Rion Brown and Daniel Mullings, as well as Teemu Rannikko, who still holds the FIBA Europe Cup single game assists record from the 2015-16 season with Kataja.

An incoming cast of new American players and Finland international Alex Murphy will be in charge of the title defense on the domestic front and leading the team forward in Europe.

Wesley Saunders could not guide Kataja past Bonn

Star Player: Wesley Saunders
Top Prospects: Johannes Lasaroff; Emil Djeen
Path to the Regular Season: Defeated Divina Seguros Joventut in BCL QR2 (+4); lost to Telekom Baskets in BCL QR3 (-24)
European Record in 2016-17: 6-8 in the Basketball Champions League, Regular Season; 1-1 in the FIBA Europe Cup, Round of 16
Domestic Performance in 2016-17: Finnish Korisliiga champions — 2nd in the Regular Season; defeated Solon Vilpas 4-2 in the Finals


Another team with a Basketball Champions League season under their belt, Mornar Bar will be making their FIBA Europe Cup debut under coach Mihailo Pavicevic after not being able to navigate their way past Avtodor Saratov in the Qualifiers.

There are some returning names in the team but most of them were just role players last season, with the 31-year-old guard Boris Bakic the only one to have averaged at least 20 minutes a game.

Mornar's new point guard Derek Needham will be running the show in Bar, but Montenegrin national team guard Nemanja Vranjes also put his candidature forward as someone who could provide the scoring punch this season with an electric showing in the tie against Avtodor.

The team also brought in a prolific shot-blocker in Uros Lukovic, who has a special place in the FIBA Europe Cup record books, having averaged 3.2 blocks per game for Kumanovo during the 2015-16 season.

Derek Needham will be concern number one for opponents 

Star Player: Derek Needham
Top Prospect: Emir Hadzibegovic
Path to the Regular Season: Lost to Avtodor Saratov in BCL QR2 (-26)
European Record in 2016-17: 3-11 in the Basketball Champions League, Regular Season
Domestic Performance in 2016-17: Montenegrin First League runners-up — lost 3-2 to Buducnost in the Finals; Montenegrin Cup runners-up; 8th in the ABA League Regular Season 


Portuguese runners-up FC Porto are entering their third season in the FIBA Europe Cup, but success has been hard to come by for the big-name club from tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

After mustering up two wins in the 2015-16 campaign, the Portuguese side went winless last year. Determined to make things work this time around, FC Porto got off to a promising start of the season, defeating Bnei Rav-Bariach Herzliya in the Qualification Round 2 to earn a spot in the Regular Season.

The three main reasons for coach Moncho Lopez to be more optimistic all have names – Will Hanley, Marcus Gilbert and Sasa Borovnjak, who form a frontcourt capable of matching up with just about anyone in the competition.

The acquisition of Basketball Champions League champion Hanley from Iberostar Tenerife just confirms that Porto mean business and getting out of the Group Phase is just the first goal.

Will Hanley was FC Porto's big signing this summer

Star Player: Will Hanley
Top Prospects: Ferran Ventura; Francisco Amarante
Path to the Regular Season: Defeated Bnei Rav-Bariach Herzliya in FIBA Europe Cup QR2 (+1)
European Record in 2016-17: 0-6 in the FIBA Europe Cup, Regular Season
Domestic Performance in 2016-17: Portuguese Basketball League runners-up — 1st in Regular Season; lost 3-0 in the Finals to SL Benfica — and Portuguese League Cup runners-up; won the Portuguese Basketball Super Cup in 2016


Austrian champions Kapfenberg Bulls have brought most of their title-winning squad back together for their run in the FIBA Europe Cup, keeping the core of the team intact with minimal losses.

Lead players on last year's team — Bogic Vujosevic, Kareem Jamar and Milan Stegnjaic — will all be taking advantage of the hard-earned opportunity to show their skills on the international stage.

Meanwhile, the holes left by the departures of Carl Baptiste and Nemanja Krstic were filled with Brian Oliver and Jozo Rados, an Austria international who represented the country in the FIBA 2019 Basketball World Cup European Pre-Qualifiers this summer.

The Kapfenberg side last played in the FIBA Europe Cup in the 2015-16 campaign, going 2-4 in the Regular Season and consequently failing to progress to the next phase.

Bogic Vujosevic will get the international spotlight this year

Star Player: Bogic Vujosevic
Top Prospects: Lukas Hahn; Ian Moschik; Tobias Schrittwieser
Path to the Regular Season: Defeated by SL Benfica in BCL QR1 (-8)
European Record in 2016-17: N/A
Domestic Performance in 2016-17: Austrian Basketball League champions — 3rd in Regular Season; defeated Redwell-Gunners Oberwart 4-1 in the Finals — and Austrian Cup winners