Union Olimpija Ljubljana brought back head coach Gasper Okorn, who had previously spent three seasons with the club and even made his head coaching debut there nine years ago in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. He is given a brand new team with a series of new faces. Playmaking duties have been put in the hands of Brandon Jefferson and Jan Barbaric, while veteran swingman Mirko Mulalic will bring leadership and experience to the perimeter. Jure Pelko brings depth to the backcourt and Drazen Bubnic, Devin Oliver and Semen Shashkov provide Coach Okorn with depth and options in and around the paint, which will be filled with the experienced Stevan Milosevic and up-and-coming big man Nikola Jankovic.
Point guard Jefferson will be in charge of running Olimpija’s offense, but also for a big chunk of scoring. A pair of young swingmen, Gregor Hrovat and one of Slovenia’s most promising talents, Blaz Mesicek, are the only two players returning from last season. Olimpija has experience in the backcourt with Mulalic, who will be an important cog for this team, while Pelko and Barbaric, who will likely be coming off the bench, provide depth at the guard positions.
Olimpija has a brand new frontcourt. 31-year old center Stevan Milosevic is the tallest and oldest player on the team and will not only be the go-to guy in the paint, but also a leader of a young team. However, a lot is also expected of a promising big man Nikola Jankovic, who at young age has already proved at the EuroCup level to be a very good rebounder with plenty of strength to battle inside. Big forwards Oliver and Bubnic are also good rebounders, and together with Shashkov and their ability to stretch the floor should nicely compliment Jankovic and Milosevic.
PLAYER TO WATCH
This will be the second EuroCup season for the 19-year old Mesicek, who is considered one of the brightest talents on the continent and his development and improvement will be on everyone’s mind at Olimpija. Last season Mesicek improved as his rookie campaign went along. He is a player who can make an entire team significantly better, and the hope is he makes that jump soon. Mesicek will surely get his opportunities and minutes, and once he becomes capable of altering games and possibly dominating games as he did at all youth and lower level categories so far, Olimpija will become a team all EuroCup fans will love to watch.
A proud club that has been title-free for three seasons now looks to start almost from scratch. A young team that has been put together with a lot of promise and potential, plus several experienced pieces who can help the squad do some damage. Some of the youngsters will have to learn quickly, as Coach Okorn will have at least seven players who will be making their respective EuroCup debuts. But Olimpija has been in similar positions in the past, fielding young teams in each of the past three EuroCup appearance, and the club has gotten past the regular season each time, which is a pattern that makes them dangerous once again.