Partizan NIS Belgrade returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup with a fully reloaded team and the goal to continue its steady climb back to its glorious heights of old in all competitions. Partizan kept experienced head coach Andrea Trinchieri at the helm and added quality players all over the place. It found a new floor general in Corey Walden, signed a talented power forward in Rashawn Thomas, brought in rim protector William Mosley and added players with valuable experience, such as guard Nemanja Gordic, forward Stefan Bircevic and Zanis Peiners, and center Artsiom Parakhouski, who prevented Partizan from reaching the EuroCup playoffs last season with a game-winning shot at Aleksandar Nikolic Arena. Partizan kept most of its core players, such as Marcus Paige, Rade Zagorac, Nikola Jankovic and veteran forward Novica Velickovic. Backed by a legion of diehard fans, Partizan is ready to fight for its best EuroCup result ever.
Corey Walden is set to share the point guard duties with Nemanja Gordic, which allows Coach Trinchieri to have at least one reliable floor general on the court at all times. Walden was named the 2018-19 Israeli League regular season MVP with Hapoel Holon. He uses his athleticism and a quick first step to get advantages while driving to the basket. Walden draws a lot of attention from defenses, but knows how to find the open man when double-teamed. Gordic is an experienced and reliable playmaker who thinks teams first. An above-the-average defender and very smart on offense, he is never afraid to take big shots in crunch time. Marcus Paige is an undersized combo guard with great ballhandling skills who can blow up any game with his three-point shooting and passing skills. Rade Zagorac is a do-it-all swingman with outstanding versatility and a high basketball IQ. He’s a natural-born mismatch due to his size, speed and ballhandling. Ognjen Jaramaz brings energy and firepower off the bench, while Zanis Peiners is a mobile forward able to drive to the basket, run the floor and hit outside shots with great efficiency.
Rashawn Thomas will be the team's main frontcourt reference. A mobile power forward, he is very athletic and plays with great energy and determination. He will power the boards, provide intensity and fire up the crowd with his dunks. Thomas will have plenty of help around the rims, as Partizan has a very deep frontcourt. Art Parakhouski steps in after leading Rytas Vilnius to the EuroCup playoffs last season. He is an old-school center with size, post skills and intimidation. William Mosley is a great shot blocker due to his athleticism and natural timing to jump at the right time. Expect him to start a lot of fast breaks with his defensive stops. He also runs the floor well. Stefan Bircevic is a stretch power forward who can pull the trigger from downtown, but also a hard-nosed defender. Nikola Jankovic is a solid rebounder who can score in the paint, but has also developed a very effective mid-range jumper. An excellent offensive rebounder, Jankovic struggles from the foul line, which may limit his minutes. Novica Velickovic remains a good one-on-one player who knows the team better than anyone. His experience, commitment and talent will be very useful throughout the season.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Parakhouski comes off a great season with Rytas and has the numbers to prove it. He won the Lithuanian Cup with Rytas and earned MVP honors. In the EuroCup, Parakhouski led the Top 16 in performance index rating (21.2 PIR), was second in scoring (15.0 ppg.) and third in rebounds (8.7 ppg.). Parakhouski hit a buzzer-beating game-winning shot against Partizan in Top 16 Round 5 that eliminated the Serbian powerhouse from the competition. He helped Rytas reach the EuroCup playoffs. An old-school, back-to-the-basket center, Parakhouski can also hit shots from the high post, is a great finisher around the rim, does not hesitate to dunk when given the opportunity and rebounds well at both ends. Expect him to dominate again, this time wearing Partizan's jersey. At age 31, he arrives in Belgrade at the prime of his career.
First and foremost, Partizan must be strong at home. Over the last two seasons, Partizan is 4-9 at home, which is a problem if you want to be a team that challenges for the EuroCup title. With a stronger roster, the first step to being a contender will be taking advantage of the home-court advantage, especially when you have such diehard fans rooting for you. In that sense, its two first home games against very good teams, Tofas Bursa and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, will be critical. This season, Partizan has a nice combination of experienced veterans, hungry players ready to prove their value at this level and youngsters with a lot of things to show. If everything clicks, the sky may very well be the limit for Partizan, especially if it makes it to the playoffs with some sort of home-court advantage. Partizan will make sure it is competitive in all competitions, including arguably the strongest EuroCup season ever.