01 September, 2016
30 April, 2017
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Lukoil Academic Sofia vs CSM Oradea preview

The story so far: This is the first leg of the Qualification Round 2 tie that will decide which of the two teams will clinch the remaining spot in Regular Season Group B. Academic were drawn in QR2 while Oradea had to overcome Prievildza in QR1 to get here.


SOFIA (Basketball Champions League) – The perennial Bulgarian champions are yet to commence their title defence so the only taste we have so far of their 2016/17 team is based on what they showed in warm-up games. In recent days, Academic took on the two Serbian clubs that will compete in the BCL and lost both games, 79-61 at Partizan Belgrade and 78-77 at Mega Leks.

In stark contrast, Oradea have already played five official games so far this season and seem to be picking up rhythm with every outing. They started with a defeat to Cluj-Napoca in the Romanian Supercup but continued with two wins in the domestic LNB league and, of course, the two victories over Prievidza in Qualification Round 1.

Academic would love to be in this position because although coach Toni Denchev continues at the helm and their play should show some continuity, the Bulgarian champions have brought in several new pieces this summer, including the likes of Slovenian forward Sasa Zagorac, Danny Gibson and Steve Zack.

So on paper at least, Oradea hold an advantage because they are more ready as a team at this stage of the season, although also in theory Academic has more depth in their roster and more players of significant international experience, such as 36-year-old sharp-shooter Filip Videnov. Romanian international Titus Nicoara, who signed with Oradea this off-season, did not play in Qualification Round 1 due to injury, but could return to action this week.