Joventut Badalona enters its third consecutive EuroCup season and looking to build on its strong runs with a deep, competitive roster in which homegrown talent is set to play, as always, a big role.
Joventut has a very deep backcourt with eight players able to play at either spot if needed. That versatility should be Coach Carles Duran's main challenge, but also one of Joventut's biggest advantages as a team. Two-time EuroCup champion Guillem Vives returned to Joventut to be the team's starting point guard. Vives brings experience and great on-the-ball defense. Ferran Bassas is a pass-first playmaker with unlimited shooting range, but will miss some time due to a broken wrist. As such, Andres Feliz and Arturs Zagars may see extended playing time. Zagars is a talented point guard with a high basketball IQ and Feliz is a scoring guard always ready to attack the basket and play in transition. Pau Ribas and Pep Busquets should see most of the minutes at shooting guard. Ribas, a two-time EuroCup champion, is a smart combo guard, who is tough on defense and provides leadership on offense. Busquets should help with his energy and all-around game. Albert Ventura offers deep shooting range and versatility off the bench, and Brandon Paul is a potential difference-maker due to his experience, scoring skills and character.
Like last season, Ante Tomic and Vladimir Brodziansky are set to see most of the minutes in the frontcourt. Tomic is a great scorer due to his array of post moves, highlighted by a hard-to-guard jump hook. He is also a smart big man with outstanding passing skills. Brodziansky is his perfect complement, a stretch power forward who can also play in the low post or attack the basket with great effectiveness. Simon Birgander is also an old-school big man with a soft touch to finish in the paint, but with enough aggressiveness to power the offensive glass. Derek Willis arrives as Brodziansky's backup at power forward. Willis is a team-first player, rebounds really well and is a good finisher around the basket. He is also a good three-point shooter and makes the most out of it in pick-and-pop situations. Joel Parra offers versatility, energy and transition game, and should take a step forward to make the most of his character and winning mentality.
PLAYER TO WATCH
In his second stint with Joventut, Brandon Paul should become one of the team's main scoring references. He left Joventut in 2016 and has played on four different continents before coming back with more experience. A confident shooter from downtown, Paul is never afraid to have the ball in his hands in crunch time and is also an active defender, with good anticipation and quickness. Having so many experienced players around him allows Paul to focus on what he does best, putting the ball in the basket. As a streak shooter, he can be completely unstoppable on a good day and that should give Joventut extra wins down the stretch.
Joventut made it to the EuroCup Quarterfinals last season and should stay ambitious in the 2021-22 campaign. Its fans are basketball connoisseurs, as the city of Badalona breathes basketball and having them back in the stands is definitely a big plus. Joventut has a great combination of size and talent, experience and youth, plus a coach who understands the club's philosophy. Players like Vives, Ribas and Tomic have the know-how required to do great at this level and young players like Parra, Busquets and Zagars are willing to learn from them. If it all clicks, Joventut should very well fight for its second EuroCup title.