Group-by-group: The 2021-22 FIBA Europe Cup Regular Season preview
MUNICH (Germany) - The 2021-22 FIBA Europe Cup Regular Season gets underway this season with a new champion guaranteed to be crowned in the seventh edition of the competition, since 2020-21 winners Ironi Ness Ziona fell in the Qualifiers in September.
The competition reverts to the traditional home-and-away round robin format for the Regular Season with 32 teams split into eight groups of four. Here's a closer look at the teams taking part this season.
Donar Groningen continue their record of having played in every FIBA Europe Cup Regular Season - making the Semi-Finals in 2018 - with the Dutch side making it through the Qualifiers. In contrast, London Lions make their competition debut and hope to become the first British side to win a game in the Regular Season.
Kapfenberg Bulls finished runners-up in their domestic championship last season in Austria and have never made it past the FIBA Europe Cup Regular Season in four previous appearances in the competition at this stage. medi Bayreuth make their return after a run to the last four in the 2019-20 season, which was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Look out for: Bayreuth have brought in exciting new talent, but will rely on the experience of German veterans Andreas Seiferth and Bastian Doreth to guide the team. Serbian Nemanja Krstic is back for a second season with Kapfenberg Bulls and opened the domestic campaign with a 20-point display in a tough loss.
American playmaker Isaiah Reese is already averaging more than 11 assists per game in BBL Cup competition for the Lions, while Groningen signed Austin Luke - last season's leader in assists in the Netherlands - though he has missed the last couple of weeks through injury.
Young guns: Kay Bruhnke (medi Bayreuth), Kjeld Zuidema (Donar Groningen)
The group opens up an opportunity for a team to make a run in the competition. Rilski sportist advanced to the Play-Offs for the first time on their fifth appearance in FIBA Europe Cup last season, while Kyiv-Basket previously reached the Quarter-Finals stage of the 2019-20 edition and have made a 4-1 start to their domestic league.
Poland's Trefl Sopot came through the FIBA Europe Cup Qualifiers to make their Regular Season debut, while Hapoel Eilat are another of the nine newcomers this season as they enter via the Basketball Champions League Qualifiers having finished fourth in Israel last season.
Look out for: Avery Woodson and Jeff Garrett have made a hot start for Kyiv in Ukraine with Dutch international Yannick Franke starring for Trefl Sopot in the Qualifiers as they claimed one of the two 'lucky loser' spots.
Bryon Allen showed out with a recent 31-point outing for Hapoel Eilat against last season's champions Ironi Ness Ziona. Meanwhile, Rilski will look for their American front-court duo Trey Porter and James Padgett to make an impact.
Young guns: Vasil Popov (Rilski sportist), Daniel Ziolkowski (Trefl Sopot)
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Parma-Parimatch are back for another crack at the FIBA Europe Cup after making it all the way to the Final Four last season before a heartbreaking defeat to eventual winners Ironi Ness Ziona. Opava make their debut in the competition as they emulate compatriots Pardubice from a few years ago.
Heroes Den Bosch came up against Parma as the hosted one of the groups last season, but they fell at the Round of 16 stage. Benfica return to the competition for their sixth appearance, though they have only made it past the initial group phase on two occasions.
Look out for: Thomas Van der Mars started the 2020-21 FIBA Europe Cup season with a 30-point haul on opening night and Heroes Den Bosch will hope for a similar start again. Aaron Broussard has already showcased his versatile game in the competition at CSM CSU Oradea with new side Benfica now set to benefit.
Adas Juskevicius returns to the Parma side for another year after impressing in last season’s FIBA Europe Cup campaign, while Mattias Markusson is already averaging 16.0 points and 15.8 rebounds per game in the Czech NBL.
Young guns: Aleksandr Kurov (Parma-Parimatch), Florian Rijkers (Heroes Den Bosch)
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Casademont Zaragoza become the first Spanish team to compete in the FIBA Europe Cup following back-to-back Final Four appearances in the Basketball Champions League. They are joined by Italian side Unahotels Reggio Emilia, who fell at the Quarter-Finals stage last season after a bright start to their debut season.
Avtodor Saratov have a 50-percent success rate of making it out of the Regular Season as they reached the Round of 16 stage in their second campaign, in the 2017-18 edition. Meanwhile, Hapoel Gilboa Galil are the second debutant from Israel as they look to make their mark after a strong domestic campaign.
Look out for: Zaragoza have a range of scoring options including experienced Polish guard/forward Adam Waczynski, while Reggio Emilia's balanced attack includes Bryant Crawford after two years in Lithuania with Juventus.
Great Britain forward Sacha Killeya-Jones posted 19 points on league debut for Hapoel Gilboa Galil, while Kenny Chery is already making a splash for Avtodor Saratov as a dangerous outside shooter.
Young guns: Mouhamet Diouf (Unahotels Reggio Emilia), Javier Garcia (Casademont Zaragoza)
All four teams have previous FIBA Europe Cup experience with Bahcesehir College making it to the Semi-Finals in the curtailed 2019-20 season, so they return with unfinished business.
Iraklis made an unbeaten start through their first four games of last season's competition before falling in the Quarter-Finals to Ironi Ness Ziona, while Mornar Bar reached the same stage in their only previous venture in the 2017-18 season. ZZ Leiden are one of three teams from the Netherlands as they make a fourth appearance.
Look out for: Worthy de Jong always makes things happen for Leiden and is still leading from the front with all-round performances. Iraklis had strong displays from former NBA player Toney Douglas as they made it through the Qualifiers.
Montenegrin international Vladimir Mihalovic returns to Mornar Bar after a decade away from the club and is already averaging 17.3 points per game in the ABA League. Bahcesehir will look to lean on the experience of 34-year-old Jamar Smith to help lead the team.
Young guns: Ahmet Yilmaz (Bahcesehir College)
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An all-Belgian duel between Belfius Mons-Hainaut and Telenet Giants Antwerp will be an anticipated matchup in this group and they are joined by reigning Portuguese champions Sporting and newcomers Ionikos.
Antwerp made the Quarter-Finals in the inaugural season, but have not featured since the 2017-18 season, while Mons-Hainaut are set for their sixth Regular Season appearance after making their best run last season amongst the last eight. Sporting lost all three games in the 2020-21 edition so will be out for a first win alongside Ionikos as both visit Belgium in Gameday 1.
Look out for: Emmanuel Nzekwesi has made an explosive start to the domestic season for Belfius Mons-Hainaut with 20.8 points per game, while Icelandic point guard Elvar Fridriksson has settled in nicely with Antwerp off the back of an MVP season in Lithuania.
Travante Williams is back for another season with Sporting after starting last season’s FIBA Europe Cup campaign with a double-double. Ionikos have great depth in the back-court including American Eugene German, who leads the team in scoring on the early season.
Young guns: Iosif Koloveros (Ionikos), Thijs de Ridder (Telenet Giants Antwerp)
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Two debutants, two very experienced teams in European competition. Bakken Bears have won nine of the last 11 national Championships in Denmark and are two-time FIBA Europe Cup Semi-Finalists, while long-running Belarussian champions Tsmoki-Minsk return after a debut season in the Basketball Champions League.
Peristeri, who also took part in the Basketball Champions League the last couple of seasons, after returning to the Greek top-flight in 2018, are trying their hand in the FIBA Europe Cup for the first time. As for Crailsheim, they follow on from a line of successful German clubs in FIBA Europe Cup history
Look out for: Angola star Yanick Moreira has previously impressed in the Basketball Champions League with both Peristeri and AEK and will be one to watch for the Athens team. TJ Shorts warmed up for the competition with a 30-point haul for Crailsheim in action in Germany.
Michel Diouf and Darko Jukic is all over the all-time FIBA Europe Cup record books and continue to bring their experience for Bakken Bears. Meanwhile, Angelo Warner arrives at Tsmoki-Minsk after a season with Szolnok.
Young guns: Aleksa Kovacevic (HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim), Anton Harbo (Bakken Bears)
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Another group that features four sides that have played in FIBA Europe Cup competition before. CSM CSU Oradea made it through to last season's Final Four on their fourth appearance when they were beaten by Arged BMSLAM Stal. Sznolnok failed to make it out of the Regular Season, however, despite reaching the Second Round on two previous occasions.
Porto lost a thrilling Finals series against Sporting in Portugal last season and had to advance through the Qualifiers to make the Regular Season with an impressive performance to end the reign of last season's winners Ironi Ness Ziona. Legia competed in the 2019-20 edition but exited in the Regular Season with a 1-5 record in the group phase.
Look out for: Max Landis averaged 17.5 points per game across two games in the Qualifiers to help Porto advance with Charlon Kloof also starring. Croatian Roko Badzim has made a solid start in Hungary for Szolnok alongside compatriot Roko Rogic in the back-court.
Alex Gavrilovic has previously played for Balkan and Tsmoki-Minsk in FIBA Europe Cup action and now lines up for Oradea, while 37-year-old Lukasz Koszarek has joined Legia Warszawa having also taken on a new role with Poland's national team.
Young guns: Vlad Marinau (CSM CSU Oradea), Grzegorz Kaminski (Legia Warszawa)