RETAbet Bilbao Basket underwent significant changes over the summer to prepare for another assault on the 7DAYS EuroCup title. The 2013 runners-up signed players at every position to make up for a number of departures and in doing so combined youth, strength and experience from all over the globe. Two point guards, Ricardo Fischer and Lucio Redivo, have come from South America to lead the team on the court. Big men Jameel McKay and Tim Kempton arrived from the United States. On the wings, Shane Hammink is expected to provide power and points, while veteran Pere Tomas should contribute experience to the mix.
The Men in Black feature a new-look backcourt with small, speedy playmakers Ricardo Fischer from Brazil and Argentinian sensation Lucio Redivo. Both come off strong seasons and will join veteran Javi Salgado, who will play his 11th season with Bilbao, and Jonathan Tabu, who will look to make the big impact he could not bring last season. On the wings, the much-valued experience of Alex Mumbru is the glue that brings the team together, while local man Borja Mendia will try to demonstrate that the trust the club has put in him will not go to waste. Another experienced player, Pere Tomas, signed with the club for three seasons and is expected to provide quality minutes. Young Dejan Todorovic returns with the intention of expanding his role from last season.
RETAbet also renovated its frontcourt with Jameel McKay and Tim Kempton, two versatile and undersized centers who will help shape the team’s playing style. RETAbet also brings back young Vasilije Vucetic from loan. He made his EuroCup debut last season, but appeared in only one game. Another household name is at power forward in Axel Hervelle, who can be counted on for his trademark hustle for the ninth straight season. Shane Hammink is expected to have a main role this season, even if his position is a bit blurry since he is so versatile he can practically be considered a point forward. He is expected to bring energy, speed, scoring and versatility to the RETAbet frontcourt, completing a group that can be a real threat if it jells fast.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jonathan Tabu came to RETAbet last season as a main addition, but unfortunately suffered a thigh injury early in the season and then another one in his right knee later. These problems prevented him from finding a good rhythm and he could not contribute as much as he would have liked. Tabu only played in five EuroCup games and averaged 7.0 points and 1.7 rebounds as the team was eliminated at the end of the regular season. Fortunately, Tabu picked up his rhythm in the final part of the season, and even though he could not help RETAbet get into the Spanish League playoffs, he was back to his former self and he can expect to be so again with the start of the new campaign. Despite Bilbao's new additions, one that might go under the radar is that Tabu is ready to finally demonstrate in the EuroCup that he is back for good.
RETAbet is trying to get back to the top level both in Spain and Europe. Last season was the first with Carles Duran as coach and in this second year of the new project many key pieces have been added. The team will have to gel quickly in order to stay on the right track, especially in such a strong regular season group. All the teams in Group C are household names with Turkish Airlines EuroLeague experience, and even though their rosters could also be new and adapting, RETAbet's first two trips to Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar will be long only to find a strong rival waiting. The team's chances of advancing to the Top 16 will be heavily impacted by its results at home as RETAbet will need to turn its own gym into a fortress.