FIBA Europe Cup
Introduced for the 2015-16 campaign, the FIBA Europe Cup is the second tier FIBA competition for the men’s game on the continent.
A total of 56 teams entered the inaugural tournament, with the doors being held open for the future entry of up to 100 clubs from more than 40 different nations.
It’s inclusivity and diversity is a major appeal and the race is underway to reach the first ever FIBA Europe Cup Final Four which will take place from 29 April to 1 May 2016.
The competition has some standout competitors in its first year.
They include French Pro A challengers, ASVEL – owned by NBA star Tony Parker and with a roster that contains his Les Bleus colleague, Charles Kahudi.
A number of domestic champions are also stepping out – including Belgian powerhouse BC Oostende who boast national team standouts Jean Salumu and Quentin Serron.
Nymburk are the reigning Czech champions and coached by national team play-caller, Ronen Ginzburg – as well as having international captain and veteran star, Jiri Welsch on board.
Other champions include Lukoil Academic of Bulgaria, Khimik Yuzhne of Ukraine and Magnofit Güssing Knights of Austria.
Meanwhile Krka Novo Mesto are former Slovenian champions and also ex-EuroChallenge winners, having scooped the silverware in 2011.
A former Slovenia international and eight-season NBA player in Primoz Brezec has also caused a stir - the veteran is using his know-how and experience to lead Cypriot team, AEK Larnaca
There are also a number of storied Italian clubs who have Euroleague and Korac Cups to their name in Varese and Cantu, while Cibona Zagreb are the most historical Croatian club after Jugoplastika Split and possess one of the most exciting rising stars in the 1997 born, Ante Zizic.
The competition is also providing a platform for a wealth of ambitious clubs who are on an upward curve and looking to bolster their respective profiles – from Turkish side Gaziantep who are coached by Jure Zdovc, to Fraport Skyliners – the German club who are in the ascendency thanks mainly to the thrust provided by German international, Jo Voigtmann
Södertalje Kings and Boras Basket are perennial rivals for trophies in Sweden, while elsewhere in Scandinavia, Bakken Bears Aarhus have crashed the competition with style and proved to be the best Danish side ever seen in a European competition.
To reach the climax of the tournament and write a note of history as the first FIBA Europe Cup champions, teams have to negotiate the regular season which sees 14 groups of four play on a home and away basis.
Eight groups of four then play the Round of 32, before the Round of 16 and all-important Quarter-Finals - with a quartet of precious tickets for the 2016 FIBA Europe Cup Final Four at stake.
For more information and results of the 2015/2016 season click here.