FIBA announced the teams that would be participating in its two competitions today:
As has been the case in recent years, more teams applied for spots than were available so there will be qualifying games before the regular season starts in EuroLeague and EuroCup. The three losing teams in EuroLeague qualifiers will drop down to the EuroCup for group play.
Nineteen teams applied for the sixteen spots in Europe’s premier competition so there will be three qualifying games. In order to facilitate EuroCup, the qualifiers were separated into east and west so we already know that Botas of Turkey will play Arka Gdynia of Poland in one set of qualifiers. In the west, Lattes Montpellier of France and Reyer Venezia of Italy will play either Olympiacos of Greece or DVTK of Hungary with matchups determined by random draw.
The reduction in applicants means that Russia will again get three teams directly entered into the competition as Nadezhda will not have to navigate a tricky set of games to join Dynamo Kursk and reigning champions Ekaterinburg. The two countries with two teams automatically qualifying are Turkey, represented by Fenerbahce and Cukurova, and France, represented by league champions Lyon and cup winners Bourges. A number of familiar faces return as well with Sopron of Hungary and USK Praha of the Czech Republic looking to follow up strong campaigns last season along with TTT Riga, the team with the most championships. Schio of Italy will be looking to put themselves back in the conversation for being one of the better teams while Braine from Belgium would like a longer run than last season and Girona enters the competition after winning the title in Spain.
The lone qualifying games will be played in the eastern conference with Spartak Noginsk of Russia paying the price for domestic struggles even with consistent participation at this level, giving them a pair of games against Kayseri of Turkey. Those two countries will have a number of representatives in these groups as MBA Moscow, Spartak Moscow, and Enisey Kranoyarsk represent Russia and Galatasaray, Hatay, Besiktas, and Orman increase Turkish participation. The other country with three teams is Poland as their champions Polkowice are not playing at a higher level this year, joining this competition with Gorzow and Bydgoszcz, but not traditional powerhouses Wisla Krakow. The other country with multiple teams is Sweden as Umea and Lulea have experience at this level. Other familiar names include KP Brno of the Czech Republic, Ruzomberok of Slovakia, Sepsi of Romania, and Tsmoki-Minsk of Belarus. Elitzur Ramla‘s entry means a return for Israeli teams and an unexpected first entry comes from Prishtina of Kosovo.
The western conference will also their share of strong teams. Avenida drops down to this level after failing to win a championship in Spain and are joined by Gernika again and also new entrants in Sedis and ambitious Valencia. Hungary will have at least four teams with Gyor, Szekszard, Cegled, and PEAC all looking to make some noise. Carolo will again represent France with Landes and newcomers Roche joining them. Belgium has three teams with Sint-Katejline-Waver, Namur, and Liege involved. Herner and Keltern will be the Germany entrants, Fribourg returns for Switzerland, and a different Portuguese side will play this year as Olivais makes the step up to this level.