There is no end in sight to the NBA lockout and the college hoops season is still a few weeks away, but Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Fernandez, Thabo Sefolosha and a host of other NBA veterans and former college stars will be on display when ESPN3 streams a pair of Euroleague contests Thursday at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Real Madrid vs. EA7-Emporio Armani Milan
The Nuggets' Gallinari is expected to be joined by four former NCAA stars in the starting lineup for EA7 Emporio Armani Milan (1-0) when it takes on Fernandez and 29-time Spanish League (ACB) champion Real Madrid (1-0) in Group C play. Sefolosha, who started 161 of 164 regular-season games for the Thunder over the past two seasons, leads Fenerbache Ulker Istanbul (0-1) against Olympiacos Piraues (0-1) and Matt Howard, who appeared in the past two NCAA championship games for Butler, in Group A.
Joining Gallinari, who scored 23 points in EA7 Emporio Armani's 89-82 win over Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv last week, are Malik Hairston, a two-year member of the Spurs who led the team with 25 points; Omar Cook, another two-year NBA veteran out of St. John's; Princeton grad Mason Rocca and former Maryland star Drew Nicholas.
Fernandez, who spent the past three seasons with the Trail Blazers before being traded on draft night this past June to the Mavericks, scored 19 points as Real Madrid was the only one of 24 Euroleague teams to reach triple-digits in a 100-76 victory over Belgacom Spirou Charelroi last week. He is averaging 17.8 points per game as Real Madrid is off to a 3-1 start in the ACB. Sergio Rodriguez, who spent three years with the Blazers and split a fourth with the Kings and Knicks, and Utah Stat grad Jaycee Collins, who scored 14 points in 17 minutes against Belgacom Spirou, will try to send Real Madrid back to the Euroleague Final Four for a second consecutive season.
Given the historic rivalry between Greece and Turkey and both teams' need to record a victory -- the top four teams in each six-team group advance -- the Olympiacos-Fenerbache contest figures to be quite intense.
Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul
Sefolosha will be joined by two Turkish natives with U.S. roots for Fenerbahce, the two-time defending Turkish league champs. James Gist, a second-round choice by the Spurs in 2008 out of Maryland, and Ukic Roko-Leni, a second-round selection by the Raptors in 2005 who spent a season in Toronto and another with the Bucks, each scored 10 points in last week's home loss to Caja Laboral. Baylor alum Curtis Jerrells begins his second year in Europe after spending one season in the NBA D-League.
Howard had two points in his Euroleague debut in a 76-61 loss to Bizkaia Bilbao, while Kyle Hines scored 14. The UNC-Greensboro alum, beginning his fourth season in Europe, hit for 16 as Olympiacos opened its Greek League season Monday with a 65-52 triumph over PAOK. Michigan State's Kalin Lucas, Big Ten player of the year as a sophomore in 2009, has yet to play for the perennial Greek power.