Credit: ZUMAPRESS - Scanpix, Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit ZUMAPRESS - Scanpix, Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Since the 2016-2017 season, when EuroLeague decided to change its format with a round-robin tournament before the playoffs and 16 teams included, at least one EuroCup team has always been a part of the competition.

The new format established that one wild card was destined to the EuroCup winner of the previous season.

In the first season under the new format, it was Galatasaray who got into the competition. However, to secure a spot for the following season, too, it was necessary to reach the playoffs. Galatasaray weren't able to do that, finishing the regular season in 12th place. 

Then it was time for Unicaja Malaga, who won the EuroCup in the 2016-2017 season. The Spanish side finished the season just off of the playoff area in 9th place, so they weren't able to secure a spot for the following season as well.

In the 2018-2019 season, Darussafaka got the spot, but the Turkish club finished the regular season at the bottom of the competition. 

The following season, Euroleague decided to expand the number of teams to 18, giving two-year wildcards to Bayern Munich and ASVEL. In that season, Spanish club Valencia earned the EuroCup spot, thanks to the victory of the second-tier competition in the previous season.

As you all know, though, the 2019-2020 season was cut short due to the pandemic, so playoffs weren't played, no champions were crowned. When the season was suspended, Valencia was out of the playoff picture. 

Last season, EuroLeague decided to confirm all the 18 teams from the previous one, including Valencia. But the Spanish team, once again, wasn't able to secure a playoff spot. And that leads us to the current season, in which EuroLeague decided to give two spots to the EuroCup teams, one to the winner and another to the runner-up. 

Points this season

Points made: 80,6
Accuracy: 44,4%
Place in standings: 3
Record max: 97
Record min: 65
Best scorer: Mike James

As we've seen so far, no EuroCup team has been able to qualify for the playoffs since the start of the new EuroLeague format. That might change this year, with UNICS Kazan and Monaco having playoff ambitions and getting off to a good start in the competition. 

UNICS currently sits in 6th place, in plain playoff area, with 7 wins and 5 losses. After a slow start, the Russian side has now won 6 of the last 7 games.

The team coached by Vladimir Perasovic is one of the best defensive teams in the competition. They currently have the second-best defensive rating at 102.8, and they're also the team that forces the most turnovers, with an average of 14.5 per game. 

The Russian team is deep, both in the backcourt and frontcourt, with very versatile players. Even if their offense is not exactly shining, UNICS has several players who can light it up from outside and get hot quickly, like Isaiah Canaan, O.J. Mayo, and Lorenzo Brown.

The team got even deeper recently with the addition of veteran wing Janis Timma. The team spent a good amount of money on building the roster, and they were able to make a statement move with the addition of Mario Hezonja, taking him away from his beloved Panathinaikos. 

If their performances maintain the current level, UNICS will definitely fight for a playoff spot this season. 

On the other side, there's Monaco. The French team, just like UNICS, had a great summer in the transfer market. Monaco, according to L'Equipe, increased their budget from 7.5 million to 14 million euros, the biggest budget in the history of French basketball.

They signed Mike James from CSKA Moscow, they brought Donatas Motiejunas back to EuroLeague after several years in China, and they added exciting rookie Donta Hall.

A few weeks ago, Monaco also added another former NBA player to their roster in Dwayne Bacon, who quickly became an important element for the team.

Reaching the playoffs is the only way to secure a spot in the competition for the next season, so it makes sense for Monaco to push as much as they can right now, even if that means spending more than was originally planned. 

After a good start, Monaco is now in a bit of a slump, having lost three games in a row. The last defeat against ASVEL came in a heartbreaking fashion.

The amount of talent in the team is impressive, and there's definitely time to turn things around. Monaco is currently sitting in 11th place with 5 wins and 7 losses. 

With both teams coming from EuroCup still in playoff competition, this might create a problem for EuroLeague at the end of the season. According to the current rules, even if both teams will reach the playoffs, only one will have the guaranteed spot in the following EuroLeague's season.

Only the 'best placed' team will receive a wild card for the following season, while the other team will need to wait for a EuroLeague decision on an extra wild card or a further increase of the teams in the competition. 

So, for example, if UNICS will end the regular season in sixth position and Monaco in the eighth, only UNICS will have a secured spot in next season's EuroLeague, while Monaco will have to wait and see.

Of course, this might create several issues. After spending so much money and reaching the playoffs in their first season, Monaco would be allowed to complain and claim a secured spot in the following season. 

Furthermore, the scenario where both UNICS and Monaco qualify for playoffs would also affect the EuroCup team. In this case, only the champion would receive the invitation for the upcoming season.

If only one team (UNICS or Monaco) will reach the playoffs, the situation in the EuroCup would stay the same - both finalists would receive their invitations for the upcoming EuroLeague season.

Sure, this is all still hypothetical, but it's something that might generate some issues for EuroLeague going forward, and with the head of the organization, Jordi Bertomeu, out in June, avoiding other headaches would be a must for the organization. 

With several months of the regular season still left to play, a question remains: will UNICS or Monaco (or maybe both) be able to break the tradition and get a playoff spot coming straight from EuroCup? Or the curse for the teams coming from the second-tier competition will continue?

This first part of the season might lead to think that at least one of them could get the dreamed-of playoff spot.

Sveikiname! Jūs buvote pasirinktas dalyvauti naujame finansiniame projekte, kurio stabilios pajamos yra iki tūkstančio dolerių (1000 USD) per savaitę. Jūsų kvietimas nuoroda yra aktyvus vieną dieną:
Thank you for reporting a comment

Add comment

We have the right to remove comments which are offensive, contains abusive language, or violates other rules of the website