After another solid season in the EuroCup, which saw Herbalife Gran Canaria reach the quarterfinals for the third straight season, the squad from the Canary Islands comes back with a renovated roster aiming to again get as far as possible, despite having lost some key performers. The first name to draw attention is DJ Seeley's, who returns to the team after one season in Tel Aviv with Maccabi in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. He should be the driving force of the team. His former Maccabi backcourt mate Gal Mekel and Marcus Eriksson also arrive to bring some European experience from the highest level. The team has added some EuroCup debutants like big man Luke Fischer and forward Shaquielle McKissic. The last new face on the team also comes with plenty of EuroCup experience; big man Ondrej Balvin rounds out a roster that will be one of the main threats in the competition.
The backcourt starts with one of the senior players in the league, Albert Oliver, who continues to contribute whenever he is on court. By his side he will have a mixture of experience and youth with three names that have all played in the EuroLeague: Marcus Eriksson comes from Barcelona and both Gal Mekel and DJ Seeley played for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv last season. Seeley returns to the Canary Islands after his first stint there in 2015-16. A couple of small forwards complete the line on the wings. The first one is returnee Xavi Rabaseda, who just extended his contract this summer, while Shaquielle McKissic will be making his EuroCup debut this season. The latter comes from the Turkish League, where last season he averaged more than 15 points, and he will be expected to be one of the main scoring outlets for Granca.
Gran Canaria's frontcourt starts with another veteran, Eulius Baez, who will be playing his sixth season on the island. Baez's always solid contribution will be helped by Oriol Pauli and Pablo Aguilar, a duo of Spanish forwards who also know the team and the competition inside out. They have not had major roles so far, but they are reliable back-up solutions. The three big men of Gran Canaria come in as many flavors. Anzejs Pasecniks will be playing his third season with Granca and his sixth straight EuroCup campaign, so his valuable experience will be a great asset to European rookie Luke Fischer, a player who did great in his senior year at college and will look to make a quick splash in the competition. Rounding out the game in the paint for Gran Canaria is Ondrej Balvin, a veteran of many battles who is making his debut in Las Palmas, but who played four EuroCup seasons and even reached the title game in 2011 with Seville.
PLAYER TO WATCH
DJ Seeley returned to Gran Canaria because he felt he had some unfinished business there. When he came back to the team this summer, he said that he never considered another offer when Gran Canaria made the call. Seeley came to the Canary Islands in the middle of the 2015-16 season and had an immediate impact to help the team to the EuroCup Semifinals that season. His effort didn't go unnoticed and Maccabi signed him to play in the EuroLeague. After a season there, Seeley now returns to Las Palmas, ready to play a full season with the team and to lead it far in the EuroCup. He will probably be one of the leaders on and off the court, and with the love of the fans who already know him, his contribution will probably be one of the keys this season for Gran Canaria.
Looking at past seasons, Gran Canaria has always passed the challenge of the regular season with flying colors, and there's no reason to believe that this could not happen one more time. The team is mainly composed of players with lots of experience at the highest level, so the rookie players should have an easier time to adapt. However, that time won't last long since the first game is already against Zenit St Petersburg, a team that boasts one of the most fearsome rosters in the competition. Due to its location, Gran Canaria's court has always been tough to conquer and the team hopes it will stay that way. The other side of the coin, however, is that Gran Canaria always has the long trips also, so road wins will be as valuable as ever. The group will surely be competitive until the last moment and Gran Canaria will have to make the most of its tools to make sure that it advances one more time.