Credit: D.Repečka, Emanuele Cremaschi, Srdjan Stevanovic, Aykut Akici - Getty Images
Credit D.Repečka, Emanuele Cremaschi, Srdjan Stevanovic, Aykut Akici - Getty Images

2022 is just around the corner. New wishes, new goals. Even though basketball season began in September, each New Year is seen as an opportunity to recharge batteries and reach new aims. 

For this occasion, BasketNews launched a Happy New Year edition, in which all our colleagues made one wish to each Turkish Airlines EuroLeague team.

Just like with friends, some teams received a wish to stay healthy or simply pure luck. Others have received such wishes as stability or even a new head coach.

Have a look at what BasketNews wishes to each EuroLeague team!

ALBA Berlin

  • Wish: a win in EuroLeague against FC Bayern Munich

Begum Unal: this is ALBA's third season straight in EuroLeague, and so far, they haven't been able to win a game against their rivals from Munich. May 2022 be the year ALBA wins a EuroLeague game against Bayern.

In five head-to-head meetings in Europe, ALBA didn't log even a single win. In the 2015-16 EuroCup season, when both teams met in the Eightfinals stage, the first game ended in a draw (82-82), but Bayern won the second leg 84-75.

In the EuroLeague, Bayern won all four games against Berlin club - 77-76 in the 2019-20 season, 90-72, and 101-95 in 2020-21, and this season, the Bavarian team won an away game 82-69.

Anadolu Efes Istanbul

  • Wish: more chances for Filip Petrusev

Uygar Karaca: if it goes like this, his spell in Istanbul won't go too long. And he is capable of doing more. Dzanan Musa had to leave Efes with a total of 11:46 Euroleague minutes in the bag after joining from Brooklyn Nets, so the danger is real. 

Trivia: Currently, Musa is the Spanish League leader in scoring, averaging 18.4 points per game.

AS Monaco

  • Wish: hit the jackpot!

Donatas Urbonas: Monaco went all in, signing Mike James, Dwayne Bacon, Donatas Motiejunas, and even sacrificing their beloved coach Mitrovic. Only the Top 8 and being ahead of UNICS will keep them in the EuroLeague. Good luck, we would love to revisit Monaco!

AX Armani Exchange Milan

  • Wish: no more injuries

Orazio Cauchi: With their full roster, Olimpia Milan is definitely among the best teams in Europe and the Final Four contenders, but the recent outbreak of injuries has left the team with much fewer resources and offensive potential. 

Coach Messina wishes for a little bit more luck with the injury situation and the opportunity to have a full roster available in the new year.

Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz

  • Wish: a ticket to the Spanish Cup

Miguel Lois Vidal: After a successful 2020, Baskonia will end in 2021 in a difficult situation. Far from the Euroleague Top 8 due to a difficult start, the Vitorianos are still fighting for a Spanish Cup ticket.

That will be the first and most important goal for them. If they do not get it, it will be disappointing. Baskonia cannot think of mid-term even Wade Baldwin IV seems to be shining finally.

If I can freely ask for a personal wish, I would like to see Luca Vildoza again in Vitoria. The Argentinian guard could not make his debut with the New York Knicks, and he is currently recovering from his injury in the Basque Country. Come on, Luca, we miss you! 

Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade

  • Wish: big shots

Uygar: This team is doing everything but hitting the most decisive ones. Against CSKA, they tied the score for 71-71 with 3:30 left to play, but they were 71-78 down in the last 17 seconds. 

Against Barcelona, they missed 3 shots in the same possession in the last minute. Against Efes, that free-throw nightmare occurred. That's why they are currently sitting at 15th place.

CSKA Moscow

  • Wish: peace for Dimitris Itoudis

Donatas: Call the priest in Megasport before it's too late! Last year CSKA went through the Mike James saga and Nikola Milutinov season-ending injury. 

This time they played together for the first time almost before Christmas. Enough is enough. Dimitris Itoudis deserves some peace outside the court to focus on only basketball-related things.

FC Barcelona

  • Wish: EuroLeague title

Miguel: FC Barcelona cannot confess it publicly, but winning the EuroLeague is the biggest dream for everyone in the Catalan club. From players to the fans. 

Last year, the first one with Jasikevicius on the bench, Barcelona was near a triplet. They were just five points away from beating Efes in the final. What would have happened if Calathes would not have bent his ankle? We will never know. 

After a shameful journey through the desert since 2015, the current project is built to succeed in the short term. It's not just about players' ages (Calathes, Higgins, or Mirotic are above 30); it's about a historical necessity.

Other wishes for FC Barcelona would be a heart rate monitor for Saras Jasikevicius or a rope to kidnap Jokubaitis from the NBA.

Finally, a personal one, it would be great to see FC Barcelona playing again at Palau Sant Jordi, an arena with almost 20.000 people capacity. 

It was the Euroleague Final Four 2003 venue, and it was used as Barcelona's European home games back in time. New Palau Blaugrana will not be finished until 2025...

FC Bayern Munich

  • Wish: fans

Begum: It's a tough season for the Bavarian team, and playing in a very quiet Audi Dome doesn't help with the situation. The team needs their cheerful fans enjoying their night watching some EuroLeague action.

Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

  • Wish: an injury-free year

Uygar: I might be a little bit late for that wish regarding De Colo and Vesely's latest situations, and don't forget Ahmet Duverioglu, Danilo Barthel, and Devin Booker's setbacks. The damage might be already done for Fener's season. But every bad has its worse so, no more injuries, please.

LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne

  • Wish: new head coach

Uygar: Sorry, Mr. Parker. A big roster comes with a big responsibility. Time for a change in the coaching department, so I wish them a new one. 

The only games that ASVEL won in nearly two months were against Monaco (that controversial mid-court buzzer-beater from Howard, remember?) and shorthanded Fenerbahce, where Polonara had to play as a small-ball five for the first time this season. You get the picture.

Just a tip: I heard that Zvezdan Mitrovic is available out there. 

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv

  • Wish: stability

Orazio: 2021 has been full of ups and downs for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Especially in EuroLeague, where the Israeli side struggled to find a consistent form, often providing disappointing performances.

With many rumors and tension surrounding the team's environment, what Maccabi fans can wish for is a little more stability for their team. Among the best fans in Europe, it would be nice for them to enjoy their team without drama or always questioning what's going to happen next.

Olympiacos Piraeus

  • Wish: get Quincy Acy back in shape

Giorgos Kyriakidis: Olympiacos Piraeus announced Quincy Acy on November 3. Everyone knew that the former Maccabi big man would need some considerable time to adjust after a 20-month hiatus. 

However, so far, Acy has only appeared in two EuroLeague games, being a non-factor in both and logging less than three minutes. Over the last few days, he's been battling acute tonsillitis, which made him unavailable. 

Bartzokas is definitely looking forward to the day that Acy will be able to contribute.

Panathinaikos OPAP Athens

  • Wish: a new point guard

Giorgos: It has been Dimitris Priftis's wish for weeks now, but PAO need to a) find the necessary funds and b) make sure that Stefan Jovic will be able to play right away. 

The Greens are 16th in EuroLeague's assists per game category averaging less than 15 dimes. Obviously, the new signing isn't going to change their destiny, but if they want to be more competitive, that's the first move they should make.

Real Madrid

  • Wish: health

Miguel: If Real Madrid could write a request letter, they would ask for health. Not as the typical issue, just being sincere. 

The Blancos currently have 10 players and Pablo Laso out with COVID-19. A significant Covid outbreak forced them to stop their activity. Apart from the youngsters, only Tavares, Vuckevic, Williams-Goss, and Rudy are safe (Abalde and Thompkins are injured).

Such a tremendous situation affects not only the players themselves but also the following schedule. Madrid could play six games in just ten days in the first two weeks of January.

Apart from this, Madrid's biggest goal is to avoid the NBA coup during the season. Last year, Facundo Campazzo and Gabriel Deck left the club in the middle of the season. The Argentinian guard's departure to Denver was something expected. 

Deck's one, not at all. The forward could not refuse Oklahoma City Thunder's economic offer, moving to the States just before the EuroLeague playoffs.

Therefore, last season was the first one since Laso arrived in 2011 that Madrid did not win any of the three titles (ACB League, Spanish Cup, or EuroLeague). One of these three titles would be welcomed. 

UNICS Kazan

  • Wish: keep shushing them!

Donatas: Canaan's shush ended badly in Palau Blaugrana, but UNICS kept many doubters silent midway the season. It won't be easy to continue because other EuroLeague powerhouses will step up in the second part of the season. But these guys aren't afraid of anybody.

Zalgiris Kaunas

  • Wish: a happy rebuild!

Donatas: The upcoming summer will be very intriguing because Zalgiris will have to do some cleaning. How, who, and in which direction? Regarding Zalgiris' future, there's a cloud hanging over Nemunas basketball island.

Zenit St Petersburg

  • Wish: have Shabazz Napier back

Giorgos: Napier was supposed to be Zenit's starting point guard. In his long-term absence with an ankle injury, Xavi Pascual had to resort to other options, like Conner Frankamp and Jordan Loyd. 

Although both are having a good season, the former NBA player showed what he's capable of when he dropped 33 on UNICS Kazan in a VTB game early in the season. As it seems, the 30-year-old will soon be able to return to action, thus strengthening Zenit's squad even more.

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2022-01-10
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