Perennial EuroCup title contender Valencia Basket has revamped its roster to remain among the best in the competition while celebrating the 30th anniversary of the club. Coach Pedro Martinez is back at the helm for a second straight season and he has summoned a few names to help take the team to the next level. The frontcourt will feature two key forces in John Bryant and Will Thomas, who both bring valuable EuroLeague experience, while Pierre Oriola can serve as backup in the paint. In the backcourt, more experience arrives with Joan Sastre and Vladimir Jankovic, who will try to gel with the existing group in order to take Valencia Basket to new heights.
The Valencia backcourt will be a strong as ever with the arrivals of Sastre and Jankovic. They join an established squad led by captain Rafa Martinez, who enters his ninth season with the team. His scoring and passing abilities will be aided by young talent Guillem Vives, who may be on the verge of a breakout season; Sam Van Rossom, who will look to complete a good season after missing most of the last one due to a knee injury; and Antoine Diot, who had an important role in the team during his debut season in Valencia. Jankovic, who arrives from Panathinaikos superfoods Athens, has five seasons under his belt at the Greek top level, including three EuroLeague campaigns with the Greens. Sastre is already a EuroCup veteran and coming off his best season to date. At small forward, two more vets will take care of business: Romain Sato and Fernando San Emeterio are back for one more season to be the driving forces on Valencia's offense.
In the paint, John Bryant will be a focal point. Bryant’s game grew as he climbed the ladder in Germany to reach the top levels in continental competition, and now he's landed in Valencia to try to keep the Orange team aiming for big goals. He will be joined by one of the top performers on the team last season, Bojan Dubljevic; the two form one of the most dangerous big man duos in the competition. At power forward, Will Thomas brings versatility with his scoring and rebounding, and at his position he will be flanked by Luke Sikma, who will look to improve on his debut season with the team last year, and Pierre Oriola, who will probably be the third option for Coach Martinez and will look to increase his experience in European competition after his debut two years ago.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Despite still yet not turning 25 years of age, Valencia’s big man Bojan Dubljevic is already a seasoned veteran entering his seventh season in the competition. And he is about to reach some rare milestones. Already the only player that has been chosen as the EuroCup Rising Star trophy winner twice, Dubljevic is also only 21 points shy of becoming the 13th player in competition history to score 1,000 points, and he is only 10 rebounds away from becoming seventh man to pull down 400 boards in his EuroCup career. However, after missing part of last season due to injury, and then failing to reach at least the EuroCup Quarterfinals with his team for the first time in five years, Dubljevic is motivated and poised to write another great chapter in his career and his club’s history. He has carried Valencia with his consistent dominance over the past four years and it is safe to say if Dubljevic will be healthy and at the top of his game again, Valencia will be hard to stop this season.
The goal for Valencia Basket is always the top one, and this year is no exception. The Spanish squad has put together a fearsome team on all lines, and will probably be one of the toughest teams to beat in the 7DAYS Eurocup. Of course, no titles are won without playing the games first, and the start in Group D won't be easy either. First comes a Final Four participant in last year's EuroLeague, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar. Other classics in the competition such as Union Olimpija Ljubljana, former champ Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem and ratiopharm Ulm will make sure that Valencia's path to the Top 16 is as complicated as possible.