After a two-year absence, ASVEL Villeurbanne returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup seeking to regain its former place as a continental force and team to beat in domestic competitions. ASVEL brought in a slew of promising players to improve the level of talent both in the paint and from the perimeter. John Roberson appears set to be the new leader and A.J. Slaughter is an interesting addition due to his experience and leadership. ASVEL also added a couple of big men in Alpha Kaba and Justin Harper. At age 21, Kaba is an interesting prospect – a mobile big man with good rebounding skills and great upside. Harper will see most of his minutes at power forward, where he offers versatility and deep shooting range and gives head coach J.D. Jackson more options on offense.
ASVEL fans should enjoy an electric backcourt that could take the team to the next level. John Roberson is a scoring machine and a true floor general who likes to have the ball in his hands and make things happen. This will be his first experience at this level, but he should get plenty of help from his very experienced backcourt mates A.J. Slaughter and DeMarcus Nelson, who played together at Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens just two seasons ago. Nelson is a first-class defensive guard, while Slaughter is a streak shooter who can help in many aspects of the game. Charles Kahudi, Nicolas Lang and David Lighty will also see valuable playing time. Kahudi is an accomplished on-the-ball defender, Lang can change games with his three-point shooting and Lighty is an intense, athletic and versatile swingman.
Justin Harper is expected to play a key role at power forward. Quick and explosive, Harper is a stretch four who rebounds well at both ends and is able to pull the trigger from downtown. Bandja Sy is a tall, versatile forward and a well as a good scorer who loves to play in the open court. Amine Noua has reached ASVEL's first team from its youth squads and could see extended playing time this season thanks to his determination and aggressiveness. ASVEL has several options at center, which is always a good sign. Darryl Watkins is a good rebounder at both ends and an effective scorer in the paint. Adrien Uter is an undersized big man with great basketball IQ and outstanding timing to block shots. Alpha Kaba arrives to provide size, athleticism and mobility at both power forward and center. He was the second-best rebounder in the Adriatic League last season.
PLAYER TO WATCH
John Roberson has been successful everywhere he has been and now faces the biggest challenge of his promising career. At 1.80 meters, he will be one of the smallest point guards in the 7DAYS EuroCup, but make no mistake, Roberson can be unstoppable at times as he controls the game tempo and makes smart right choices. After starting his career in Slovenia and Switzerland, Roberson helped Sodertalje Kings to three consecutive Swedish League titles from 2013 to 2015. He also proved his value in France by helping Chalon reach the Leaders Cup final in 2016 and winning the French League title last season. Expect him to make things happen as a terrific shooter, true floor general and clutch player who is not afraid to hit the clutch shot. After working really hard to reach the EuroCup, Roberson wants to make sure every fan learns his name.
ASVEL is in its eighth EuroCup season. It reached the quarterfinals in its first appearance back in the 2005-06 season. In its last three EuroCup seasons, however, ASVEL has a 12-20 overall record. Therefore, ASVEL must take one game at a time, try to qualify to the Top 16 and if it does, set new goals as the EuroCup season goes by. There are reasons to believe ASVEL could have a very successful season in the competition, as the team is on the rise and won its 18th French League title as recently as in 2016. ASVEL has put together a very competitive team, with an experienced and deep backcourt and an athletic frontcourt that should serve as a perfect complement for their perimeter mates. ASVEL fans have been loyal all the way and the time could be right for them to enjoy an interesting and long EuroCup season.