After a 15-year absence, Asseco Arka Gdynia enters its second consecutive 7DAYS EuroCup season hoping to bounce back from the last one. Arka won but a single EuroCup game last season, but has fully reloaded its roster to try to be more competitive this time around. The Polish powerhouse kept a core of players – scoring ace Josh Bostic, playmaker Krzysztof Szubarga, small forward Bartlomiej Woloszyn, up-and-coming talent Grzegorz Kaminski and big man Dariusz Wyka – and added six promising signings. Phil Greene and Ben Emeloglu arrive to help Bostic with scoring duties; Marcin Malczyk and Adam Hrycaniuk are very experienced players; and Leyton Hammonds is meant to be a difference-maker at the small forward spot; and DeVonte Upson offers strength in the middle. With Polish basketball at its highest level of popularity in decades, Arka will try to use that momentum to have a good EuroCup season.
Greene and Szubarga are meant to share the point guard duties, making sure there is a reliable floor general on the court at all times. Greene played his best basketball in Poland, averaging 15.9 points for Trefl Sopot last season, and the EuroCup is the biggest challenge his career. He is a good on-the-ball defender and a quick playmaker who thinks team first. In his fourth season with the club, Szubarga is a vocal leader, a point guard with unlimited range, always ready to take on responsibilities in crunch time. Bostic was the fourth-best scorer (16.4 ppg.) in the EuroCup last season and will keep his role as Arka's first option on offense. He is also smart on defense, reading passing lanes to collect steals and powering the boards well for a player his size. Emeloglu will come off the bench to offer intensity and three-point accuracy while, at age 37, Malczyk goes from the Polish third division to playing the EuroCup for the first time.
Hammonds is an interesting addition, a versatile forward with good ballhandling and unlimited range. He can create his own shot, help on the boards and use his post skills, highlighted by a very effective turnaround jumper. His adjustment will be critical for Arka's success early in the regular season. Woloszyn and Kaminski give Arka a lot of depth and options at forward. Woloszyn is an excellent three-point shooter and Kaminski, an interesting young player who will try to work his way into his team's rotation. Upson is a strong, powerful big man able to play power forward and center due to his good timing on rebounds and blocked shots. Arka will need him to be really active under the rims and power the offensive glass. Hrycaniuk is a reliable, strong and experienced center who will do everything that is expected from him: defense, rebounds, close baskets, leadership. Wyka offers size, intimidation and the occasional three-point shot.
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Despite its many signings, most chances for Arka to be more competitive in the 2019-20 EuroCup rely on Bostic's all-around scoring skills. Last season, Bostic scored 16 points or more in seven consecutive EuroCup games, including a season-high 28-point effort against Cedevita Zagreb. Bostic led the EuroCup in three-point shots attempted per game (7.7) but also contributed on defense with steals (1.4) and shared the ball with assists (3.4). Arka will need his all-around game, and expects Bostic to do even better with one year of EuroCup experience under his belt. In other words, if Bostic does what he does well, putting the ball in the basket, Arka will have a better chance to compete and eventually challenge for a Top 16 spot.
As any Cinderella team in a European competition, there is no other way for Arka than taking one game at a time. Preseason will be critical for the Polish powerhouse, as the whole team has been practicing, with no absences, for weeks before the start of the competition. Winning early may give the team the extra boost it needs to keep going and challenge for a Top 16 spot. Polish basketball made history at the 2019 FIBA World Cup and no other team in the country will compete at a higher level this season than Arka in the EuroCup. Arka hopes to represent its country in the best way possible, by being competitive at all times, especially at home, where the team is getting more and more support in the stands.