With bigger groups and a longer schedule than ever, the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season offers all kinds of intriguing storylines about what teams will gain the upper hand after 18 games. Here's the early take on 10 solid contenders in Group B.
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica will set a record in October by starting its 15th EuroCup season, one more than any other team in the competition's 20-year history. Buducnost comes off a satisfactory EuroCup season in which it came close to reaching the semifinals for the first time. Buducnost has dominated Montenegrin basketball since the country became independent – 13 league and 14 cup titles since 2007. It has also been an Adriatic League powerhouse, winning that competition in 2018 and challenging for the title on a regular basis. Its fans know the EuroCup inside-out and should be ready to push their team further than before!
Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana
A proud and always-ambitious club from the Slovenian capital, Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana was 2 seconds away from securing a place in the EuroCup Quarterfinals last season but ended up eliminated in the Top 16. There is no doubt this team will be gunning for greater heights now. An established core of home-grown players led by Jaka Blazic, the EuroCup's top overall performer last season, meshes well with a coach who also played for the club, Jurica Golemac, giving Cedevita Olimpija a strong anchor of tradition and know-how. The Slovenian champion has been getting stronger from year to year, and this season should be no different.
Frutti Extra Bursaspor
Up-and-coming Turkish club Frutti Extra Bursaspor will be competing in the 7DAYS EuroCup for a second consecutive season. In its debut, the team started with seven consecutive defeats before finishing the regular season on a high note, winning three of its last four games under newly arrived young coach Dusan Alimpijevic. Now, Bursaspor will be looking to use its experience from last season to set the foundations for a competitive campaign from the start. Reaching the single-game elimination rounds would be Bursaspor's reward for learning well.
A classic team in the competition, Gran Canaria is set to start its 14th EuroCup campaign while coming off one of its finest efforts to date. The islanders reached the semifinals of the EuroCup last season for the third time in club history. Their best result had come in reaching the 2015 EuroCup Finals but finishing as runner-up. The club has all it takes to be successful – it always features players with a lot of experience, competes in one of Europe's best venues, Gran Canaria Arena, and delivers in big games. Last season, Gran Canaria rallied from a 0-3 start in the Top 16 to reach the playoffs. That fighting spirit will be needed all season long.
Mincidelice JL Bourg en Bresse
Mincidelice JL Bourg en Bresse faced a huge challenge in making its international debut in the 7DAYS EuroCup last season but lived up to the expectations by reaching the Top 16. The goal for Bourg in its sophomore EuroCup campaign is to keep making noise. Bourg learned some valuable lessons from it's first season in European competition and will expect to be even more competitive this time around. Since winning the French second division title in 2017, Bourg has only gotten better, becoming one of the country's most solid teams. A longer EuroCup Regular Season should help Bourg find consistency and keep growing.
Already in its third consecutive EuroCup campaign, Promitheas Patras is one of the fastest-growing teams in Europe. Promitheas has invested a lot in infrastructure, with a strong youth program and a state-of-the-art practice facility. Its senior team is also living up to expectations, advancing to the Greek Cup final in each of the last two seasons. Promitheas had a strong EuroCup debut in the 2019-20 season, sitting as one of the top-seeded teams in the playoffs when the competition stopped. It second EuroCup season was less competitive, but the Greek powerhouse will be poised to bounce back in the 2021-22 campaign.
It has become hard to imagine a EuroCup season without ratiopharm Ulm, which has slowly but deservedly become a mainstay in the competition. The German club is entering its ninth EuroCup season in the last 10 years since its debut in 2012. Indeed, this season, Ulm is set to enter top 10 in EuroLeague games played. That debut season remains the only one in which Ulm reached the quarterfinals, but it was close to making longer runs on a couple more occasions. This year, Ulm will benefit from head coach Jaka Lakovic being there for a second season and look to go as far as possible in the EuroCup.
Umana Reyer Venice
Despite coming off an underwhelming 2020-21 EuroCup season, Umana Reyer Venice is in the middle of a golden age. After 74 years without lifting trophies, Reyer won four titles in as many seasons, from 2017 to 2020. It has made basketball more popular than ever in one of the most unique cities in the world, and hopes to use that popularity to rebound in the 2021-22 EuroCup. While becoming a force in Italian basketball, Reyer's best EuroCup run was a 12-4 record before the 2019-20 season was short-circuited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reyer has all it takes to bounce back under the new 18-game regular season format.
As the competition's original and most-crowned champion, Valencia Basket is always a top contender to win the EuroCup title. No other team comes close to the club's four titles – in 2003, 2010, 2014 and 2019, the last time Valencia was in the competition – not to mention runner-up finishes in 2012 and 2017. Valencia returns with an experienced roster, including some former EuroCup winners, a loyal fan base and facilities that are second to none. Once again, the right combination of talent and ambition makes Valencia a fierce opponent for all and a favorite to try to claim the EuroCup title for a fifth time.
Virtus Segafredo Bologna
Virtus Segafredo Bologna comes off one of the best seasons by any team in EuroCup history. Virtus finished the 2020-21 EuroCup season with a 19-2 record after winning its first 19 games, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three semifinals before UNICS Kazan stood on its way to the finals. Virtus bounced back and won its first Italian League title in 20 years, however, showing that its setback was an aberration. Few teams should be more motivated next season than Virtus, which returns to the EuroCup with the same two goals: qualifying to the 2022-23 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and becoming the first Italian team to win the 7DAYS EuroCup.