Joventut Badalona is back for 2020-21 with a project that has many fans hopeful. The team retained an important core of young players and added talent and experience in spades with the additions of big man Ante Tomic and guard Pau Ribas, who returns to Penya after leaving in 2009. Also returning to Badalona is point guard Ferran Bassas while another big man, Vladimir Brodziansky will be making his debut in the 7DAYS EuroCup. Joventut may have lost a couple of key pieces during the summer, however, the new team could be a surprise for many EuroCup fans this season.
Joventut's game will start from the hands of point guards Nenad Dimitrijevic and Bassas. The former is a rising talent that the club managed to retain for another season, while the latter comes back to the team after several years of accumulated experience with other Spanish League teams. They will be aided by another former Joventut player, Ribas, a shooting guard with years of EuroLeague experience with FC Barcelona, Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Valencia Basket. Also returning are Albert Ventura, who had his fair share of minutes last season, and Arturs Zagars, who made his EuroCup debut last season and will look to increase his presence within the team. Xabi Lopez-Arostegui is another of the young pearls on the team; he started in seven EuroCup games last season and will probably increase that number in 2020-21. With him, Shawn Dawson is back and hoping to play a key role after missing most of last season with a torn ACL. Joel Parra will link up with the big guys in the frontcourt and will surely see his role grow as he gains more experience.
On a team that traditionally relies on home-grown talent, four foreigners will reign in the frontcourt. It will all start with newcomer Tomic, a European superstar still in his prime, who arrived at the team after a successful career in Barcelona. At his side, Simon Birgander will look to soar back from injuries that have plagued him the last few years. Conor Morgan comes off a strong first season with Joventut and extended his contract with the club to become a key piece in the new project. Finally, a new face in Badalona, Brodziansky arrives from Obradoiro of the Spanish League where he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 rebounds over 57 games during his two seasons there.
PLAYER TO WATCH
All eyes in Badalona will be on Tomic, who arrived at the team last summer as its biggest signing. Tomic is a European superstar in his own right: he comes from 11 straight EuroLeague seasons, three in Madrid and eight in Barcelona. He was in the All-EuroLeague First Team in 2013 and 2014 and the Second Team in 2015, while also winning three monthly MVP awards. He became the foreign-born player to appear in the most games ever with Barcelona and was an important player there through last season. After leaving Barca, Tomic decided to stay close to his new home and Badalona was a place that appealed to him. This combination makes Joventut a team that could go further than last season if it all comes together in Tomic's EuroCup debut after such a fruitful career.
Optimism is the prevailing feeling in Badalona. Joventut managed to retain key young players from last season such as Lopez-Arostegui and Dimitrijevic and in came big signings with Tomic and Ribas. Last season the team performed a bit above expectations, but a couple of key pieces from that success were lost along the way. The new components bring talent and experience and most of the team is already used to playing with each other under coach Carles Duran. Penya's regular-season group is not easy at all, including both long trips and tough opponents, but if Duran manages to make it work from the get-go, Joventut could raise a few eyebrows this season. The fans certainly expect it.