After a couple of seasons away, Herbalife Gran Canaria, one of the flagships of the competition, returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup. The team has undergone significant renovations over the summer with eight departures - including the head coach - but also with four new faces on the roster plus new head coach Porfi Fisac. Granca brought in quite a bit of EuroLeague experience with Andrew Albicy (Zenit St. Petersburg), Amedeo Della Valle (AX Armani Exchange Milan) and Jacob Wiley (Panathinaikos OPAP Athens). Playmaker Frankie Ferrari also landed in Las Palmas from Manresa of the Spanish League. Together, the new-look Gran Canaria looks ready for its return to one of its favorite competitions.
Granca's attack starts in the hands of its two newcomers, Albicy and Ferrari. Albicy arrives from Zenit, where he made his EuroLeague debut, but before that, he had plenty of EuroCup experience with MoraBanc Andorra, with which he emerged as one of the best guards in the league. Ferrari had a strong debut season in Spain and now will make his European debut with Granca hoping to make a similar impact. Another newcomer at guard will be Amedeo Della Valle, one of the top Italian talents at the moment. Della Valle spent two years in the EuroLeague with Milan and before that was a 2018 All-EuroCup First Team selection. The last guard on the roster is Fabio Santana, who was raised in the Granca youth teams and returned to the team last season. Stan Oyoke and Javier Beiran are the small forwards. Oyoke will play again with coach Fisac, for whom he also played at Zaragoza in the past. Beiran has not played in the EuroCup since 2012; he spent several years in Tenerife and then returned to his former team last season, much like Santana.
Big man Jacob Wiley, who returns for a second stint with the club, will have a big role. He has played in the EuroLeague in each of the past two seasons. John Shurna returns from last year's team and before that he played a total of 57 EuroCup games over the previous four seasons with Andorra, Cedevita and Valencia. Beka Burjanadze grew up in Seville and played two seasons in the EuroCup from 2010 to 2013. After that, he played for several Spanish teams and now returns to the EuroCup after a strong season with Granca last year with 8.4 points in 27 games. Yet another player back for Gran Canaria is center Matt Costello, who will be the main pillar in the paint. He was one of the Spanish Leauge's top rebounders last season with 7.3 boards per game.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Amedeo Della Valle returns to the EuroCup and, for the first time in his professional career, is not playing for an Italian team. Della Valle comes with shiny credentials: he spent two seasons in Milan playing the EuroLeague with decent numbers and before that he exploded in the EuroCup with Reggio Emilia, securing a spot on the 2018 All-EuroCup First Team. Della Valle has averaged 14.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his 45 EuroCup games so far, including a 17.5 point-per-game season in 2017-18. Gran Canaria will give him the usual warm welcome, but they will also expect Della Valle to deliver from the start. He should be a good fit with the classic Granca philosophy that orients itself towards offense, which is Della Valle's forte.
After a couple of seasons away, Granca returns and landed in Group D of the regular season, which is loaded with strong teams. Coach Fisac will have to work hard at uniting his returning players with the new ones and making it work as early as possible. The regular season is only 10 rounds, and a couple of mistakes could prove fatal. Fortunately, Gran Canaria tends to have a good record at home, so securing those wins would be a big step forward to the Top 16. The team has the talent and the experience to accomplish that goal and more.