It is hard to find a place in the basketball world that has been surrounded by more excitement in recent months than Partizan NIS Belgrade. The proud Serbian powerhouse and army of its devoted fans have lived to see the return to the bench of Zeljko Obradovic, the most decorated head coach in EuroLeague history. Expectations are as high as ever with a revamped roster that is expected to contend for all the trophies.
Partizan signed playmakers Dallas Moore and rookie Yam Madar to run its offense. Madar is a young point guard with incredible talent, while Moore has the ability to set up his teammates, but is also known to score in bunches. Player Partizan brought Kevin Punter to be its go-to guy. Punter is a scoring machine who is expected to do just that – loads of scoring. Aleksa Avramovic is another potent offensive perimeter weapon who can make the difference with his aggressiveness on the defensive end, too. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Uros Trifunovic hopes to continue to grow in his third season in the competition with the Serbian club. Youngsters Djordjije Jovanovic and Mihailo Petrovic will be looking to make the most out of their opportunities.
Partizan is as deep at forward as any team in the competition. Three newcomers, Zach LeDay, Alen Smailagic and Rodions Kurucs, give Coach Obradovic a great deal of versatility. LeDay can score inside and outside, rebound and play high-level defense. He joined Partizan after three EuroLeague seasons. Smailagic is a prolific scoring forward, while Kurucs brings athleticism and great shooting range to the power forward position. Partizan has more size with a pair of wingers in small forwards Rade Zagorac and Nemanja Dangubic, who have the ability to contribute and win matchups on both ends of the floor, while youngster Aleksa Stepanovic is a stretch-four. With the availability of center Will Mosley up in the air, Partizan also has youngsters under the rims. Dusan Miletic is a big man who can stretch the floor with his long-distance shots, while Balsa Koprivica does the work inside.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Small forward Rade Zagorac is one of the few Partizan players left on the team from last season. It is no secret Zagorac is coming off a campaign during which his performances left a lot to be desired, but he is poised to get back to his old self, which is a versatile, do-it-all forward who can score in bunches, make a big contribution on the glass and make plays on both ends of the floor. Zagorac possesses a big basketball IQ, something every coach likes to see with his players, but he has also turned into an off-court leader and is now the new team captain. Still only 26 years old, and with a ton of talent in his hands, Zagorac is ready for a bounce-back season.
There is no hiding the expectation in the Serbian capital this year. Partizan has brought the coach it has always wanted and built a team with the aim to contend for every trophy. Partizan has loads of talent, size, depth and experience. The majority of the latter will come from the bench, of course, where Obradovic will try to use the players he handpicked and mold the team to its strengths, something he has done so masterfully his entire career. With weapons both inside and on the perimeter, and with the support of the fans starving for success, Partizan will be chasing all the glory this season in the 7DAYS EuroCup.