Nizhny Novgorod returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup for the third time with a high record of competitiveness in the competition, having reached the semifinals in 2014 and the quarterfinals last season. It is a fresh start for Nizhny, which parted ways with some of the players who had been around for years and built a new core to be guided by ambitious 31-year old head coach Arturs Stalbergs. Nizhny added experience and size in the paint with Petr Gubanov. It also signed playmaker Kenny Boynton, swingman DeAndre Kane and small forward Siim-Sander Vene, along with top prospect Alexander Gudumak, who could have a stellar role in the 2016-17 season.
Boynton and Ingus Jakovics are set to split minutes at point guard, with young talent Sergey Marikhin looking for playing time. Boynton is a scoring playmaker always ready to play one-and-one and pull the trigger with great effectiveness. A prolific scorer since his college days, Boynton will surprise a lot of EuroCup fans. At age 23, Jakovics has a good chance to develop, making his EuroCup debut with a coach from his same country, Latvia, who believes in him. Kane is a smart, versatile player who will play a big role for Nizhny this season. Ivan Strebkov will offer instant offense and determination while Maxim Grigoryev is a three-point specialist set to have an extended role this season.
Gudumak and Vene are versatile players who can play at both forward positions. Gudumak is ready to prove his value as a great rebounder and all-around scorer able to hit the deep jumpers or use his athleticism to score around the basket. Vene is more experienced and a very good outside shooter. He saw limited playing time with Zalgiris Kaunas, so this is a good chance for him to confirm his strong potential. Nizhny will be solid down low with Gubanov, Ilya Popov and Rasid Mahalbasic around the baskets. Mahalbasic will be Nizhny's starting center and has the chance to keep dominating due to his smooth post moves and experience. Nizhny has other frontcourt options, such as center Andrei Kirdiachkin and power forward Nikita Zverev, who arrived on loan from Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.
PLAYER TO WATCH
All eyes will be on Boynton, whose scoring skills are definitely beyond doubt. He finished his college career at the University of Florida having scored 2,033 points for the Gators. Last season, Boynton averaged 22.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 38 Turkish League games for Sinpas Denizli Basket. He was the competition's third-best scorer and even when he shot a lot (8.3 three-point attempts per game) he did so with great effectiveness (42.9%). A truly explosive player, Boynton excels in open-court situations, when he can make the most out of his quickness and ballhandling. Expect Nizhny to play run-and-gun offense as it has all the tools to do so, with Boynton ready to shine in the EuroCup!
With so many new players, it is important for Nizhny to work on its chemistry in pre-season before facing two very important games early on, at home against Herbalife Gran Canaria Las Palmas and on the road against Lietkabelis Panevezys. Returning players will have a key role in the beginning of the season, especially Grigoryev, Strebkov and Mahalbasic, who should be seeing more playing time and becoming even more important on offense from now on. Nizhny has always been strong at home and that will be a major key for the team all season long. Nizhny has proved to be competitive on the road in EuroCup action, getting 10 wins in 21 games away from home over the years, and more of that will help the cause this time, too!