Qualification Round 2 - Tuesday Games Preview
(Basketball Champions League) – A total of 16 teams enter on Tuesday night the race for a berth in the inaugural edition of the Basketball Champions League, half in Qualification Round 1 and the other half in Qualification Round 2, with the return leg of all eight ties scheduled for Thursday. Below we take a closer look at the four Tuesday encounters of Qualification Round 2, which involves among others the national league champions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, and Sweden.
Kataja Basket (FIN) vs. Södertälje Kings (SWE) at 17:30 CET - Live streaming on fanseat
Finnish legend Teemu Rannikko, who is now 36, returns for another season with Kataja but the club has made important changes in their line-up, following their disappointing finish to last season which saw them exit the play-offs in the first round although they topped the regular season standings. Södertälje Kings certainly had no reason to change much after being crowned Swedish champions but have brought in American duo Grant Johnson and Delvon Johnson (not related) while they lost influential Swedish international Dino Pita.
Serbian guard Nemanja Krstic was one of several players who parted ways with Igokea this summer but he gets to return to his old home on Tuesday night, in a Mornar jersey. He has been the only signing of the Montenegrin side which returns to Europe for the first time in decades, while Igokea have brought in six players, including the American duo of Brandon Fortenberry and James Arthur Robinson as well as Slovenian Blaž Mahkovic.
Varese reached the final of the FIBA Europe Cup last season and while they have changed several pieces of the 2015/16 roster they have maintained arguably the main culprit for that success, in coach Paolo Moretti. The storied Italian club has added an acclaimed veteran in Massimo Bulleri while they brought in guards Melvin Johnson and Erik Maynor as well as big men Oderah Anosike, Christian Eyenga and Norvel Pelle. Benfica on the other hand are on a clear mission to re-claim the Portuguese league title from arch-rivals Porto and have added Angola captain Carlos Morais as well as sharp-shooter Derek Raivio.
Juventus have an advantage over not only Porto but over any other team in Qualification Round, because they have already two league games under their belt. While the results were mixed for the Utena outfit -one win, one loss- one constant was the fantastic displays by Arminas Urbutis, who is averaging 20.5 points per contest. The Lithuanian big man is one of the few returning players for Utena this season as they underwent a significant roster overhaul in the summer, while on the contrary the Portuguese champions have kept the key pieces of the squad that led them to the domestic title last year.