It's that time of year again: time to start paying attention to the Euroleague, Europe's annual tournament featuring the best pro teams from across the continent. Every year, there are a few Terps playing for the championship, and this year is no different. The Top 16 draw for 2012 has been announced, and Terps fans will want to pay close attention to Group G, where all three Terps in the tournament find themselves playing against each other.
First, Drew Nicholas (1999-2003) and his team, EA7 Emporio Armani from Milan, Italy. Nicholas is averaging 7.8 points per game while starting for his team in 8 of the first 10 games in the opening round of the tournament.
Next, Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) and his team, Panathinaikos from Athens, Greece. Sarunas averaged 6 points in 9 opening round games for the Greens. (Regular readers of this blog will note that this was Drew Nicholas's team too for the past several years before he left as a free agent over the summer.)
Finally, James Gist (2004-08) and his team, Fenerbahce Ulker from Istanbul, Turkey. Gist started all 10 of Fenerbahce's opening round games, averaging 9.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. (Regular readers of this blog will also note that this was Jasikevicius's team last season, taking a one year free agent break from his long-time home on the Panathinaikos roster.)
The Euroleague site has some first impression analysis about the teams in Group G. Fenerbahce Ulker (Gist) is the top seed in the group, getting there with a 6-4 record in a tough opening round group A. Now their starting point guard will be sidelined for at least two games with a broken finger. Panathinaikos (Jasikevicius) and the fourth team in the group, Unics Kazan of Russia, actually had better records, going 7-3 each to place 2nd in group B and 3rd in group D, respectively. EA7 Emporio Armani (Nicholas) reached the Top 16 by going 4-6 and winning a point differential tie-breaker for 4th place in group C. Armani also faces an uphill battle with their leading scorer out for at least 4 weeks after undergoing Achilles tendon surgery.
As always, I'll try to provide progress reports for the teams as the next rounds of the tournament progress. Good luck to all three Terps, even though we know only two of them at most can move on to the quarterfinals.