MIES, Switzerland (Basketball Champions League) - Numerous current national champions are among the 24 teams that have directly qualified for the 2017-18 Basketball Champions League Regular Season which gets under way next week.
Find out what has happened in the off-season, as we take a look at our 24 direct-to-the Regular Season qualifiers. Teams are still finalizing their rosters, but let's assess the current situation. After a rundown of the first twelve teams (alphabetically), let's now have a look at the following six: Iberostar Tenerife, medi Bayreuth, Neptunas Klaipeda, Oostende, PAOK and Petrol Olimpija.
Defending champions Tenerife come into the season with a target on their back having won it all last year, however, the star players wearing the Tenerife jersey will be vastly different.
With the departure of Head Coach Txus Vidorreta, star player Aaron Doornekamp followed him, before key players Giorgos Bogris, Will Hanley and Basketball Champions League Final Four MVP Marius Grigonis also left.
Despite that, Tenerife return 7 players, and have brought in strong reinforcements. Poland’s rising star Mateusz Ponitka signed up, Rosco Allen comes over from Obradoiro, along with Mike Tobey who also makes the ACB switch. Finally, Adin Vrabac has joined the team following two seasons with Partizan.
Last Season BCL Record: 15-4, Champions
Key Additions: Mateusz Ponitka (Pinar Karsiyaka, TUR), Mike Tobey (Valencia, USA), Adin Vrabac (Partizan, SRB), Rosco Allen (Obradoiro, ESP)
Key Departures: Giorgos Bogris (Olympiacos, GRE), Aaron Doornekamp (Valencia, ESP), Marius Grigonis (Alba Berlin, GER), Will Hanley (FC Porto, POR)
A new edition from Germany - where they reached the quarter-finals last season and finished fourth in the regular season - Bayreuth return a majority of the players that suited up last season, with three new additions.
Second leading scorer De'Mon Brooks returns at the power forward spot, whilst new additions include point guard James Robinson; who signed after an impressive rookie year in Bosnia & Herzegovina with BC Igokea, and former Arizona guard Gabe York, who joins after a rookie year that saw him waived in Italy before finding his feet in the G-League with Erie BayHawks.
Their relative inexperience will be balanced by 36-year-old veteran Venezuelan-American John Cox, who joins from Pau Orthez in France.
Last Season BCL Record: N/A
Key Additions: James Robinson (Igokea, BIH), Gabe York (Erie Bayhawks, G-League, USA), John Cox (Pau Orthez, FRA)
Key Departures: Trey Lewis (Ratiopharm, GER), Kyan Anderson (Pau Orthez, FRA)
Finishing fourth in the domestic league, and losing the playoff semi-finals, Neptunas Klaipeda return for a second season in the Basketball Champions League where they reached the Round of 16 last year.
Both Mindaugas Kacinas - the team’s leading rebounder last year - and rotation player Mindaugas Girdziunas return, along with three other players who were contracted last season.
Power forward Edgaras Zelionis makes the Basketball Champions League switch from Ventspils to Neptunas, averaging over 10 points and 5 rebounds a game in last season’s competition.
Point guard Tomas Delininkatis will be running the offence, proving he still has plenty of gas in the tank at 35 years old after averaging 14.1 points and 3.7 assists last season with Vytautas Prienu.
Last Season BCL Record: 11-5, Round of 16
Key Additions: Tomas Delininkatis (Vytautas, LTU), Edgaras Zelionis (Ventspils, LAT), Laimonas Kisielius (Lietuvos Rytas, LTU), Renaldas Seibutis (Zalgiris, LTU), Juan Palacios (Tofas Bursa, TUR), Simas Galdikas (Lietkabilis, LTU), Malcom Armstead (Yeşilgiresun Belediye, TUR)
Key Departures: Jerai Grant (Ravenna, ITA), Arvydas Siksnius (Juventus, LTU), Tadas Klimavicius (Vytautas, LTU), Martynas Mažeika (Kalev/Cramo, EST)
Belgium league and play-off champions Oostende will have their sights set on at least advancing past the regular season this year. Dusan Djordjevic and Jean Salamu are two key returners, who join a core of six who are back at the club, including Jean-Marc Mwema and Vincent Kesteloot, both members of the Belgian National team that competed in the last EuroBasket 2017 alongside Salumu.
Oostende will be hoping Nedim Buza can get back to the court after missing last season following a broken leg in EuroBasket 2017 qualifiers last year.
New additions include Chase Fieler who averaged 15 and 7 last season in the Netherlands with Donar Groningen, seven footer Tonye Jekiri, who put up close to a double-double in Turkey last season. Oostende had in mind to add Javon McCrea, one of the better performers in the Basketball Champions League last season from Maccabi Rishon, but due to a foot injury, decided to replace him with Mike Myers who averaged 16 points per game last season in Italy with Siena.
Last Season BCL Record: 6-8
Key Additions: Chase Fieler (Groningen, NED), Tonye Jekiri (Bandirma Kirmizi, TUR), Mike Myers (Siena, ITA2)
Key Departures: Corey Walden (Hapoel Holon, ISR), Rasko Katic (Spirou, BEL), Pierre-Antoine Gillet (Chalon, FRA), DJ Newbill (New Zealand Breakers, NZL), Marko Keselj (Crvena Zvezda, SRB), Khalid Boukichou (Pau Orthez, FRA)
Greek side PAOK are back again, trying to build upon their Round of 16 appearance last season in the Basketball Champions League.
Linos Chrysikopoulos returns in the midst of a four-year deal through to 2020 with the club, whilst 6’10” Canadian Owen Classen joins the side with averages of 10.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in Montenegro, along with freak athlete Ousman Krubally who returns to Greece after a taste of VTB League with Kazakh side Astana.
Lefty small forward Vassilis Charalampopoulos joins PAOK on loan from Panathinaikos. His confidence will be sky high following his MVP and gold medal with the Greek U20 team this summer.
Guard Kevin Dillard - who appeared in the Basketball Champions League last season with Pinar Karsiyaka - also joins PAOK, along with fellow Americans Lucky Jones and Brandon Triche, who averaged double digits in Greece and Israel, respectively.
Last Season BCL Record: 9-9, Round of 16
Key Additions: Vassilis Charalampopoulos (Panathinaikos, GRE), Owen James Classen (Buducnost, MNE), Lucky Jones (Promitheas, GRE), Brandon Triche (Bnei Hertzeliya, ISR), Ousman Krubally (Astana, KAZ), Thodoris Zaras (Aris, GRE), Kevin Dillard (Maccabi Ashdod, ISR)
Key Departures: Keith Clanton (Lukoil, BUL), Thaddus McFadden (Karpos Sokoli, MKD), Nathan Sobey (Adelaide, AUS), Zanis Peiners (Lietkabelis, LTU)
A new entrant from Slovenia, Petrol Olimpija join the Basketball Champions League as the Slovenian regular season and play-off Champions.
They’ve had a stable summer transfer period so far, since they've seen five players leaving the club and signed six newcomers.
With an average age of just 24 years old, the team is young and talented. Croatian U20 Roko Badzim, who leaves Croatia for the first time after four years with Sibenik - he averaged over 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists at this summer’s U20 European Championships - will be a young prospect to follow.
Slovenian point guard Jan Span who averaged just shy of 16 points and 4 assists last season as a starter for Zlatorog will run the show, whilst 6’0” American guard Talor Battle will be looked to for scoring.
Last Season BCL Record: N/A
Key Additions: Roko Badzim (Sibenik, CRO), Jan Span (Zlatorog, SLO), Erjon Kastrati (Krka, SLO), Jordan Morgan (Kymis, GRE), Talor Battle (Atomeromu, HUN)
Key Departures: Brandon Jefferson (Trapani, ITA2), Nikola Jankovic (Sakarya BSB, TUR), Mirko Mulalic (Primorska, SLO), Jure Pelko (Helios, SLO)
In the next article, we'll have a look at the last six alphabetical teams: Sidigas Avellino, SIG Strasbourg, Stelmet Zielona Gora, UCAM Murcia, Umana Reyer Venezia and Ventspils.