After a successful first weekend of games, the WE’RE BACK PRESEASON TOUR featuring four signature Turkish Airlines EuroLeague clubs continues on Tuesday and Wednesday from Valencia, Spain, paving the way for the start of the regular season on the first day of October.
This time, the featured teams are host Valencia Basket, three-time continental champion Olympiacos Piraeus, German powerhouse FC Bayern Munich and the winningest club in French history, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. The games start at La Fonteta arena on Tuesday with ASVEL taking on Olympiacos at 17:30 local time, followed by Valencia vs. Bayern at 20:00.
Remember, all four games will be available to early subscribers at EuroLeague TV, so don’t wait to buy your package and get in on the action with the WE’RE BACK PRESEASON TOUR!
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ASVEL announced on Monday that the club will take the opportunity offered by the WE’RE BACK PRESEASON TOUR to show support from the Black Lives Matter movement by having the players and coaching staff wear special t-shirts for the games in Valencia. The message EQUALITY FOR ALL will be on the warmup t-shirts worn by the players, and the coaches will wear the same message throughout the games. T.J. Parker, the new head coach, initiated the gesture, which was seconded by the players and team management, led by his brother and team president, Tony Parker.
“Throughout my childhood, my sports career and today as a leader, I have fought against inequality and discrimination,” Tony Parker said. “The club president and the man that I am today advocates for unity, respect for all and living together. It makes me very proud to see LDLC ASVEL engage in this fight!”
“I have lived all my life with this double culture, and with the values of tolerance and respect instilled by my parents,” T. J. Parker said. “Today, I feel fully affected by this violence and I feel I have an important message: We must all fight to be treated the same way, with the same respect, no matter our origins, our background or our convictions.”
“Naturally, we were very affected by these unfortunate events that happened, but also touched by the strength that the NBA players showed,” ASVEL team captain Charles Kahudi said. “In our locker room, there was very quickly a desire from all the players to be active, to carry a message and to raise awareness to as many people as possible for this cause, which affects us all.”
ASVEL has had a perfect preseason through five games under new head coach T.J. Parker and will venture outside France for the first time this season. Olympiacos, reunited last season with its last EuroLeague-winning coach, Georgios Bartzokas, has also won its only two preseason games. And Bayern, under new head coach Andrea Trinchieri, bounced back from a first preseason loss to win its last two games by double digits.
Valencia, beginning its third season under head coach Jaume Ponsarnau, is also unbeaten in three games this preseason. Despite missing a couple of key outside threats for the tournament due to injury, Vanja Marinkovic and Klemen Prepelic, the hosts have a deep roster buttressed by newcomers Martin Hermannsson at guard and Nikola Kalinic and Derek Williams at forward.
Bayern forward Vladimir Lucic returns to La Fonteta, where he played for three seasons between 2013 and 2016, to take on his former team in the first game. Win or lose, Bayern guard Wade Baldwin IV has the possibility of facing his team from last season, Olympiacos, in Wednesday’s third-place or championship game. The same goes for ASVEL guard Antoine Diot, who wore the orange of Valencia from 2016 to 2019 and won the EuroCup title in his last season with the club.
FC Bayern Munich
Andrea Trinchieri, head coach
“We are approaching the beginning of the season and it’s a good opportunity to play against EuroLeague teams. It’s preparation, but every coach wants to see some steps forward and improvement. Valencia is a team that kept its core, so they are ahead of us because they kept the core. It will be a great challenge to play against them. They know themselves, and we are learning how to play together.”
Vladimir Lucic, forward
“Valencia has a great team, in my opinion even better than the years before. This summer they signed some great experienced players and I expect that Valencia can be one of the surprises in the EuroLeague. In this corona period, they look like a very stable club and that can also be one of the advantages of this team.”
Nihad Dedovic, guard
“First of all, we are very excited and happy that the EuroLeague games are back. This tournament is a good opportunity to get the feeling back before the first game in two weeks. Valencia is an excellent team with really good players. Anyway, we will use these games to improve as a team, to be as good as possible for the start of the season.”
Jaume Ponsarnau, head coach
“The tournament is going to be nice. The teams are good, so we are going to take advantage of it to take the last step in the preparation that we want. The physical demand will be good for us. The new players are learning at a good pace, except for Derrick Williams, due to injury, and the rest are moving forward. The feelings are good, but there is a competitive reality, and we will see where the tournament puts us.”
Mike Tobey, center
“The team’s is doing well. We’re working in the right direction, preparing ourselves for this tournament and for the season to come. Knowin that it’s the preseason, I’m sure we are going to want to go out there and play to win.”
George Bartzokas, head coach
“We are excited to be back, although it is a strange situation. Personally, I have a special interest and curiosity to see how my team will react on the court to what we worked on during the preseason preparations. We should keep in mind that Olympiacos has nine new players, including Charalampopoulos, McKissic and Ellis, who played just one or two games the previous season. We have a long way to go until we become solid and homogenous as a team. I am sure that the tournament will help us a lot and will show us how to work even harder in the right direction.”
Sasha Vezenkov, forward
“Tomorrow is the day we’ve all been waiting for. Unfortunately, things have changed, but still we are really happy to be back in action. We are trying to get into our stride and be as ready as we can be for our first official friendly game for the new season. We are happy to be back on the court. As I said before, the circumstances have changed, but we have to adjust. At the end of the day, we do what we love. We all want to play in crowded stadiums, but the situation does not allow something like that at the moment. We have to do it step by step. We must follow the health protocols, have personal responsibility, and then I hope that soon fans will fill the stadiums.”
The WE’RE BACK PRESEASON TOUR opened over the weekend in Kaunas, Lithuania, where AX Armani Exchange Milan was crowned as the winnerafter defeating host Zalgiris Kaunas in Sunday’s championship game. Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and ALBA Berlin also took part in the first leg of the WE’RE BACK PRESEASON TOUR.