The biggest news of all is that Joventut Badalona of Spain is back in the 7DAYS EuroCup after a decade away. Joventut had won the EuroCup in 2008 and had previously been EuroLeague champion in 2004. Besides Joventut, only Real Madrid has lifted both trophies. As goes the team, so goes the roster, with six of Joventut's players set to make their EuroCup debuts on the road against Nanterre 92 on October 2. They will have help, however, from three incoming veterans – former EuroLeague champion point guard Nikos Zisis, former EuroCup champion center Alen Omic, and sharpshooter Klemen Prepelic, who is on loan from Real – giving head coach Carles Duran a lot of experience to work with in Joventut's long-awaited return to the competition.
Zisis, a dean among guards and one of the best team leaders in European basketball this century, still has plenty of game left, as he showed in lifting Brose Bamberg to the German Cup title last season. He will have a major role in mentoring Nenad Dimitrijevic, who at 21 years old already has two-plus seasons' worth of Spanish League experience, not to mention up-and-coming teenager Arturs Zagars. Longtime starting point guard Albert Ventura brings solidity and improved long-distance shooting. All of the above have the dangerous Prepelic, who averaged more than 15 points in his last EuroCup season, to find with passes. Small forwards Shawn Dawson and Xabi Lopez-Arostegui will remain a tandem, as last season, with newcomer Joel Parra waiting in the wings.
Joventut has four frontcourt pieces in place, with Omic ready to hold down the center position and looking for the opportunity, at age 27, to play full time. He will be backed up by precocious 21-year-old Simon Birgander, who played only 12 games in the Spanish League last season, but in one of them recorded a double-double against Real. Luke Harangody returns at power forward after having put up solid numbers as a starter last season and has the experience of having reached the EuroCup Finals in 2014 with UNICS Kazan. He will get help from young Kerem Kanter, who led the Lithuanian League in scoring with 16.8 points per game last season and was second in rebounds with 7.3 on average.
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Joventut will need all the experience that Omic brings, including his time in Spain with both Gran Canaria and Unicaja Malaga, with whom he won the 2017 EuroCup, a year after having earned a spot on the All-EuroCup First Team. He has been in either the EuroCup or EuroLeague for seven consecutive seasons, although the last three were split between two teams each, and now enters the prime of his career as the man in the middle for Joventut. In 73 career EuroCup games, Omic has averaged 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds but hasn't played big minutes since the 2017 title with Unicaja. Omic has helped almost every team he has joined, and with a stable opportunity before him, Joventut could find itself with one of the top-performing big men in the competition.
Joventut lost the Spanish League's MVP, top scorer and best assist-maker, guard Nicolas Laprovittola, over the summer, but has gotten back Prepelic in the bargain, so its offensive game should not suffer. The experience of Zisis, Harangody and Omic will be key to having many EuroCup newcomers adjust to the competition. Duran, the head coach, has had short stints at the head of benches like Valencia in the EuroCup, so he knows what to expect. UNICS will be the favorite in Group C, but after that, things are wide open. If Joventut can seize the opportunity to live up to a great basketball legacy, not only will a Top 16 run be expected, but with momentum, this team could surprise people and go even further.