With less than a week to go until tip-off in the first games in the 2015/16 Euroleague season, most teams are finishing off their preparations. This is often the most exciting time of the season for fans and players because at this point, anything can happen. This is the time to be optimistic about the campaign that lies ahead because once the action starts; it can fall apart quite quickly. You know that precisely half of the teams involved with the Euroleague will lose their opening game, which means that half of the fans will likely find that some of their optimism and hopeful outlook disappears before they even get into the rhythm of the season.
It is a long campaign though and there is no need to be despondent over one loss so early on in the campaign. There are reasons to be down though and Tornike Shengelia will not be too happy at the moment. The Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz player will miss the start of the season due to a knee injury. The club announced that he is likely to mix the opening six weeks of the campaign, which will rule him out for the opening half of the regular season. This is a massive blow for the 24 year old, with a cyst in the player’s left meniscus being cited as the reason he will be absent.
This will be Shengelia’s second campaign with the team, managing 24 games last season. In that time he managed an average of 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds, so his absence will be a loss for Laboral.
Lazarev makes the step up with CSKA Moscow
Of course, while some teams have to shuffle their squad to deal with injuries, some teams are still bringing players into their fold. One player who will make his Euroleague debut this campaign is Russian center Ivan Lazarev, who has joined CSKA Moscow from Ryazan. The player started last campaign with Zenit St Petersburg, picking up an average of 4.4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 7 Eurocup games and then he switched to Ryazan where he grabbed an average of 5.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 9 Russian Superleague matches. The player has also featured for Dynamo Moscow while he also picked up a Gold Medal at the 2014 World University Games. He may be new to the Euroleague but Lazrev is clearly a player who is due to step up and at 24 years old, he should be ready to make an impact on the league with CSKA Moscow this season.
Euroleague giants gunned down by Boston Celtics
While the might of the Euroleague was shown by Fenerbahce winning in Brooklyn earlier this week, two major European sides have found it tougher at home against the Boston Celtics this week. On Tuesday night, the Celtics ran out 91-124 winners against Milan and then on Thursday night, the Boston side grabbed another win on European soil by defeating Real Madrid. A 96-111 win over the Euroleague champions indicated the gulf in class between the top NBA teams and the top Euroleague teams but there were a few positives for Real Madrid to take from the game. There was also plenty of brilliant basketball action for fans in Madrid to enjoy.
Fenerbahce still have one more game in the US to play, facing the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday but when that is complete, all focus will turn to the start of the new Euroleague season.