7DAYS EuroCup newcomer JL Bourg-en-Bresse joins the competition with a core of players who worked well together last season; the club ranked fifth in the 2019-20 French League regular season with a 16-9 record when it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bourg has managed to bring in some interesting newcomers to become even more competitive. The club signed small forward Thomas Scrubb, athletic guard Kadeem Allen, three-point threat Luka Asceric and big man Thibaut Daval-Braquet as well as promoting swingman Theo Rey to its first squad. Veteran head coach Savo Vucevic returns to the EuroCup for the first time since 2006, when he was with Spirou Charleroi. At age 63, Vucevic has a wonderful chance to coach a competitive, ambitious squad in its EuroCup debut against some of the best teams on the continent.
Zack Wright and Allen are set to share Bourg's point guard duties. At age 35, Wright has the perfect blend of experience and basketball IQ to lead a EuroCup newcomer. He is a pass-first playmaker with a great feel for steals and above-the-average driving skills. Allen is a great defensive player, a great athlete full of intensity who is always ready to shut down the opponents' star guard. He will help on the defensive glass and use his physicality to score in one-on-one opportunities. Youngster Hugo Benitez, who led the French U21 League in assists last season (7.5 apg.), gives Coach Vucevic another option at point guard. Danilo Andjusic is set to provide the fireworks from beyond the arc. A terrific scorer, Andjusic took over 6 shots per game from downtown last season and made 45.5% of them. Expect him to keep filling the baskets with Asceric and Rey waiting for their opportunity off the bench.
Scrubb is a strong player at small forward. A good scorer and a reliable defender, he understands the game well and reads the passing lanes for steals. His backup will be Maxime Courby, who is an effective scorer and a team-oriented player in his sixth season with the club. Daval-Braquet and Pierre Pelos are expected battle for playing time at the power forward spot. Pelos is a good finisher around the rim with enough range to pull the trigger from beyond the arc. Daval-Braquet is a promising, intense forward looking for playing time to showcase his rebounding and shot-blocking skills. Zachery Peacock is expected to be Bourg's main frontcourt reference. He is an undersized center, who is strong in the paint and able to rebound and score in many ways - low post, high post, and from downtown.
PLAYER TO WATCH
During his career, Andjusic either lacked playing time to showcase his great scoring skills or had the shooters' worst enemy - inconsistency. At age 30, Andjusic has already played for nine different teams in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Spain, Poland, Russia and now France. Things have changed for him since he joined Bourg, however. Andjusic was given great responsibilities on offense and it paid off nicely as he averaged 16.0 points on 45.5% three-point shooting in the French League last season. Andjusic has improved his overall aggressiveness and gets to the foul line more often than before, which has made him even more difficult to stop. On top of that, he was an 83.5% free throw shooter last season. Back to the EuroCup with a leading role for the first time, fans can expect a lot of good things from Andjusic, an amazing shooter at the prime of his career.
Bourg will need to be strong at home if it wants to qualify for the Top 16. It is facing a rough regular season group with three teams that made it to the EuroCup playoffs last season – UNICS Kazan, Umana Reyer Venice and Partizan NIS Belgrade – as well as another team that was close to getting that far, Joventut Badalona. Bourg must beat the expectations to keep playing in the EuroCup after the regular season. The team has a lot of perimeter talent with intense guards in Wright and Allen as well as a scoring machine in Andjusic, a solid frontcourt full of physical players and a veteran coach who has been in this situation before. This promises to be a big season for the French club.