Just like the EuroLeague, the new EuroCup season is expected to be very unpredictable with no clear favourite to win the trophy. The format change that was introduced this season will add even more excitement starting from the group’s phase, as only the first six teams from each group will advance to the playoffs instead of eight, thus, every game matters in the EuroCup (regular season) too.
The game from Round 1 that will be looked at is U-Banca Transilvania Cluj vs Turk Telekom Ankara which will be played on Wednesday evening in the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca.
The home team made its EuroCup debut last season and while they recorded some memorable wins against Joventut Badalona, Cedevita or Bursaspor, they eventually failed to advance to the playoffs. This time, however, the Romanian team wants to take a step further and the transfers made this summer prove that U-BT has big plans for this season.
At the point guard position, they signed Bryce Jones, who had a prolific year in France last season with Limoges. Experienced guard DJ Seeley arrived in Cluj from Bayern Munchen, where he played 12 EuroLeague games last season. Former NBA player Adam Mokoka is also a new guard for the ‘’black and white’’ team, Jarrel Eddie is an excellent three-point shooter and he proved that already at the highest level in Europe, Latvian forward Mareks Mejeris brings defense and athleticism to the frontcourt while Mihai Maciuca is a local player that completes the summer transfer list for U-BT.
Mihai Silvasan’s team won its first 3 official games of the season, two in the Romanian Cup and one in the first round of the domestic league against Rapid.
On the other side, Turk Telekom went through a lot of changes in the summer. Starting with a coaching change, as Nenad Canak arrived in Ankara to replace Erdem Can, who made the step to the EuroLeague signing for Anadolu Efes.
Two players arrived directly from the EuroLeague: Jalen Adams played for Maccabi Tel Aviv last season, while center Steven Enoch signed with Turk Telekom after he finished his contract with Baskonia. Other two high-quality foreigners arrived from the EuroCup, as James Palmer wore the shirt of JL Bourg last season (and played against Cluj in the Group stage) and Tyrone Wallace made a great impression while playing for Paris Basketball. Markis McDuffie is the fifth foreigner in the Turkish team. Still, they will also feature some tremendous Turkish talent in their roster, like Okben Ulubay, Ismail Ulusoy, Yigitcan Saybir or Troy Selim Sav.
In the first round of the Turkish League, the team from Anakara beat Bursaspor 72-68 at home.
We expect a very close game on Wednesday, where little details could make the difference between the two teams. U-BT usually plays well at home in front of its fans and also considering that they have eight foreign players against five for Turk Telekom we can consider the Romanian squad to be the favourite of this encounter.
Photo: Ziarul Faclia