Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup with a new look. The Italian powerhouse last played the competition in the 2015-16 season and only one of its players, shooting guard Amedeo Della Valle, remains from that campaign. Moreover, only Della Valle, Jalen Reynolds, Riccardo Cervi and Federico Mussini have played for Reggio Emilia's first team in the past. The team’s main additions over the summer were combo guard Garrett Nevels, who arrives to play a leading role; experienced swingman Manuchar Markoishvili and versatile forward Siim-Sander Vene. In his seventh consecutive season as head coach, Massimiliano Menetti must find the way to build team chemistry quickly. With so many new players, it will be a challenge, but Reggio Emilia expects to be ready when the EuroCup season starts on October 11.
Garrett Nevels is a combo guard hoping to prove his value in the EuroCup. He has gone under the radar so far by playing in the Spanish third and second divisions, but Nevels is eager to showcase his all-around scoring skills. He is a very good rebounder for a player his size. Amedeo Della Valle and Manuchar Markoishvili will be the team's other chief backcourt references. Markoishvili has belonged to the European elite since 2003 when he saw playing time in the EuroLeague Championship Game as a 16-year-old. He is a good shooter and an above average defender, who always plays with character. His experience will be very important. Della Valle is a great scorer coming off screens, off the dribble or slashing to the basket. He is a complete package on offense. Expect him to play a bigger role as his career goes on. Federico Mussini is back with the team after a couple of seasons in the United States. He has become a reliable three-point shooter with very good court sense. Youngsters Federico Bonacini and especially Leonardo Candi will fight for playing time over the course of the season.
Jalen Reynolds will be Reggio Emilia's main reference in the paint. At age 26, Reynolds is set to enter the prime of his career. He joined the team in January and immediately helped Reggio Emilia on the glass. With half a season already under his belt, his performance should grow with a bigger role. Siim-Sander Vene can play at either forward spot, but he will probably see more playing time at the power forward position to make the most out of his outside jumper, great ball-handling skills and athleticism. Riccardo Cervi is a big old-school center with great timing to block shots, who powers the boards and can score with great effectiveness in the paint. Niccolo De Vico, one of the best scorers in the Italian second division, offers instant offense on his new team after a long career with Angelico Biella. Teenage big man Alessandro Vigori will try to crack the rotation, too.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Already one of the best European scorers of his generation, Amedeo Della Valle has all it takes for a successful EuroCup season. Able to play point guard due to his ball-handling ability and high basketball IQ, Della Valle seems fragile, but is a smart shooter with the confidence to pull the trigger from any angle. Over the years, Della Valle has also improved his shot selection, which makes him even more dangerous. His quick first step allows him to drive to the basket and his overall activity and energy make him a very hard player to guard. Basketball flows through his veins; his father Carlo played for the Italian national team in the 1980s. Della Valle was already Reggio Emilia's second-best scorer last season with 15.2 points on 42.7% three-point shooting in Italian League action, and he took almost six triples per night! Most important of all, he has earned the trust of Coach Menetti, so expect Della Valle to be one of the players to watch in the EuroCup this season.
Having so many new players may be an issue since Reggio Emilia was drawn into a tough Regular Season Group B featuring powerhouses like FC Bayern Munich, Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem. A good start could be critical to Reggio Emilia's chances to make it to the Top 16. In that sense, Reggio Emilia relies on its home base to make the difference. Reggio Emilia is 14-6 at home in its three EuroCup seasons, so opponents come in knowing that it is not exactly easy to win at Palabigi. Della Valle and Nevels will be the on-court leaders and a lot will depend on their overall performance. Above all, the new players must adjust to their new team as soon as possible to build the right team chemistry. If they do, Reggio Emilia will challenge for a Top 16 spot and maybe go even further.