Tomorrow in the Euroleague opener we will be witnessing exactly the same battle of the giants that took place in the Final 4 in May in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Real Madrid won very easy the derby for the 3rd place in the main competition of Europe, especially because Fenerbahce was affected by many injuries. The Turkish powerhouse had no chance in the last Final 4, having half of their roster damaged.
During the summer break, Fenerbahce made some changes but maintaining the important group of players from the last seasons (Jan Vesely, Luigi Datome, Nikola Kalinic, Kostas Sloukas, Ali Muhammed, Melih Mahmutoglu, Ahmet Duverioglu). Marko Guduric and Nicicollo Melli went to the NBA and Sinan Guler joined Darussafaka. In their place, waiting for the Euroleague debut with Fenerbahce, came Nando de Colo, Derrick Williams and Leo Westermann.
The most recent signing of Fenerbahce is Vladimir Stimac and the reason is clear: Zeljko Obradovic needs somebody strong in the paint because both centers Jan Vesely and Joffrey Lauvergne are still recovering from injuries. Even with Stimac under the basket, Fenerbahce will be very weak against Real Madrid. I think that the story from the last Final 4 has many chances to repeat. Datome is not a center, but a forward, Duverioglu can play some minutes but won’t resist Edy Tavares, Anthony Randolph, Jordan Mickey and Felipe Reyes.
Fenerbahce can compensate for the absence of the centers with a good percentage from the arc, but there will be great defenders like Facundo Campazzo, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Llull, Jeffrey Taylor and Nicolas Laprovittola to annihilate the Turkish offense. Even without Jaycee Caroll who is also injured, Pablo Laso won’t have any problem in this game.
Another issue for Fenerbahce in this game is the age of Ali Muhammed and the past injuries that he and Sloukas had it last season. They are not in the same shape as 2 years ago. Last but not least, Real Madrid is in great physical and mental shape, having in their roster 5 guys that were in the recent World Cup final and winning a couple of days ago the Spanish Supercup in front of F.C. Barcelona