Credit: Dragana Stjepanovic - Partizan NIS Belgrade
Credit Dragana Stjepanovic - Partizan NIS Belgrade

Partizan Belgrade, Virtus Bologna, and Valencia Basket are considered the leading candidates to replace Russian clubs in the EuroLeague, sources say BasketNews.

Points this season

Points made: 74,0
Accuracy: 45,9%
Place in standings: 15
Record max: 90
Record min: 58
Best scorer: Jordan Loyd

So far, there have been no developments over Russian clubs' future in the EuroLeague, and the decisions will be taken after the season 2021-22.

"There is not much more to add to what we announced last Tuesday, March 22, confirming the withdrawal of the Russian clubs for the 2021-22 season as, unfortunately, the situation in Ukraine has not evolved in a favorable way," the sports director of the EuroLeague, Ibrahim Erkan, told BasketNews. "The possibilities for 2022-23 will be evaluated by our shareholders after the end of the current season like every year."

However, EuroLeague is doing their homework already. 

According to BasketNews sources, a few scenarios have already been considered by the EuroLeague, and one of them includes giving the wild cards to the EuroCup powerhouses.

EuroLeague has already monitored the market for a while, where Partizan, Virtus, and Valencia emerged as the top clubs to join the first-tier competition.

Although decisions haven't been made yet, even CSKA president Andrey Vatutin wasn't very confident about the Russians' future in the EuroLeague.

"If the situation in Ukraine does not change dramatically until mid-May or early June, when, in my opinion, the Euroleague will have to decide on us. It is difficult to imagine that Russian clubs will return to the international arena. This is not pessimism, but realism," Vatutin said in a recent interview with Match TV.

However, there's hope in Zenit that they might continue in the EuroLeague next season. Only if there was the slightest chance, they're doing everything to win the VTB League this year, to have an additional argument for the wild card.

That's one of the reasons why Zenit put a lot of effort into bringing many foreign players back to Russia when the war in Ukraine has started.

CSKA Moscow hold A license as one of the EuroLeague shareholders. Zenit participated in the tournament on a one-year wild card. UNICS have reached the EuroLeague as the EuroCup finalists.

If the previous EuroCup champions, AS Monaco, make the EuroLeague playoffs, only the following EuroCup winners will get promoted to the competition.

That would leave only two additional wild cards for the EuroCup teams.

Also, Partizan could make the EuroLeague through the ABA League. Crvena Zvezda, another potential playoff team this season, doesn't have a secured spot in the EuroLeague for the following year. That won't change even if they advance to the playoffs.

Partizan, Virtus, and Valencia have a lot to offer as potential EuroLeague additions.

Partizan have Zeljko Obradovic, a solid budget, long-term vision, rich history, full-house crowd, and potential to bring more money from TV rights from the Serbian market. 

"Partizan deserve EuroLeague more than some teams who already play here and have guaranteed license," the Partizan GM Zoran Savic told BasketNews recently.

He added that Partizan would rank among the best EuroLeague teams in ticket sales.

Virtus Bologna is another historical European basketball destination seeking the EuroLeague return for years.

Once again, they showed their ambitions by bringing Sergio Scariolo back to Europe and investing in Tornike Shengelia and Daniel Hackett before the EuroCup signing deadline. On top of that, they already had top-shelved European stars Milos Teodosic and Marco Belinelli on their roster.

"From a business perspective, Bologna can't be left out because it has everything," Virtus Segafredo Bologna CEO Luca Baraldi told Corriere dello Sport and Corriere di Bologna in November. "Is it possible that a country like Italy has only one company in the highest European competition?"

"If Euroleague will decide to not include the Russian teams, for us it may open a door to the Euroleague, beyond of what result we might get in Eurocup. We want to go as far as possible, we have the ambition. Plus, we already requested a wild card some time ago, since playing in Euroleague is a goal that we have had for some time now," Baraldi added in the Virtus Care project presentation.

Valencia, a longtime EuroLeague family member, leads the EuroCup in all-time titles (4). They're respected for a well-run organization, solid roster, continuity, loyal fanbase, and wealthy owner. Also, Valencia will have a new beautiful arena completed by 2023.

But before the decisions are made at headquarters in Barcelona, all these clubs have everything in their power to prove they're worth the EuroLeague on the basketball court.

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