There is a great deal of continuity at Umana Reyer Venice, where long-serving head coach Walter De Raffaele will call upon almost the same group of players that marched into last season’s quarterfinals with an impressive record of 12-4. Only three new arrivals have been signed to strengthen the team’s roster, starting with Lorenzo D’Ercole. The experienced point guard made a handful of EuroLeague appearances during earlier stints with Montepaschi Siena and Dinamo Sassari and also appeared in the EuroCup with those two clubs plus Virtus Rome. In the frontcourt, New Zealand international Isaac Fotu returns to the competition after recording solid averages of 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds over three EuroCup seasons with previous clubs Zaragoza and ratiopharm Ulm. The only other new addition to the squad is young center Luca Possamai, who is set to step up to senior level after coming through the club’s youth ranks.
Reyer’s first-choice point guard is Julyan Stone, who started 11 games last season and was one of only five players to average more than 20 minutes on the floor. The experienced American led the team in assists with 3.1 per game, but his size and physicality also saw him top the team’s rebounding charts with an average of 5.5. Stone will receive support in play orchestration from Andrea De Nicolao and new signing D’Ercole, while the chief scoring threat in the backcourt comes from Jeremy Chappell, who started more games than any other player last season and averaged 9.8 points. Stefano Tonut is another scoring weapon and he will aim to improve on last season’s average of 8.3 points. Veteran Bruno Cerella can be counted on for his usual blend of hustle and defense and there could also be a boost in playing time for talented 17-year-old Davide Casarin after he first appeared at the senior level with two brief outings last season.
Reyer boasts a dangerous perimeter shooter and solid rebounder in the form of experienced swingman Michael Bramos, who returns for a sixth season with the club and will again be a cornerstone of Coach De Raffaele’s plans. Another very familiar face is forward Austin Daye, whose all-action style makes him an entertaining player to watch and a highly effective performer at both ends of the court. In the paint, Reyer is powered by a pair of excellent big men, with starter Mitchell Watt ably supported by veteran Gasper Vidmar from the bench. New signing Fotu will add athleticism and a scoring threat, and the roster is completed by Valerio Mazzola and teenager Possamai.
PLAYER TO WATCH
This is a team that relies on a team ethic rather than individual brilliance, but one player who seems to be getting better and better all the time is big man Watt. The 30-year-old shined in both continental and domestic competition last season, being named in the Italian Serie A First Team and earning the reward of a contract extension in the summer. Watt scored in double figures in 13 of his 16 EuroCup appearances last season and posted totals of 12.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game. He now looks poised to take his game to the next level and become one of the most dominant centers in the competition.
By winning domestic league and cup titles in successive years, Reyer has firmly established itself as one of the strongest teams in Italy. Last year’s impressive march into the quarterfinals suggested that its silverware-grabbing habit can also be translated into the EuroCup and Reyer must be considered as a serious candidate for the title this season. What's more, no team offers more continuity on its roster than Reyer, so it will be fair to expect the team to hit the ground running.