Mornar Bar returns to the 7DAYS EuroCup with more ambition than ever, hoping it is the second of many appearances in the competition. The team returns a core of experienced players who worked well together last season along with five new faces to reach even higher. Mornar Bar added veteran power forward Kenny Gabriel, up-and-coming swingman Aleksandar Lazic, big man Vukota Pavic, versatile forward Taylor Smith, rookie Justin Robinson and playmaker Isaiah Whitehead. Mornar Bar may have entered the competition at the very last minute, but most of its players have EuroCup experience; Milko Bjelica even won it with Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in 2009. Expect Mornar Bar to be competitive right away.
Whitehead and Derek Needham will share most of the playing time at point guard. Whitehead is a reliable playmaker with good court sense, leadership and passing skills. Needham is an outstanding on-the-ball defender and a steals specialist, a team player who will help on the boards, pass the ball and make sure he leaves it all out on the court. Jacob Pullen will be Mornar Bar's first option on offense. A great scorer, especially in isolation, Pullen uses his quick first step and one-on-one skills to beat his defenders in many creative ways. Nemanja Vranjes is back to provide intensity and aggressiveness at both ends. Marko Jeremic is an outstanding three-point shooting that comes off two very solid seasons with FMP Belgrade. Sead Sehovic is an intense player who will have the chance to face his brother Suad of Buducnost VOLI Podgorica in regular-season action. And Marko Mugosa, who enters his fifth season with the club, is a tall guard who will fight for playing time.
Gabriel and Bjelica are the most experienced frontcourt players on the team and will likely play together a lot. Gabriel is a modern power forward with good athleticism, who can shoot downtown. His rebounding skills could be critical for Mornar Bar. Bjelica boasts an off-the-charts basketball IQ and can both be effective in the low post and hit long-distance shots. Smith is an undersized power forward with a great mid-range game as well as a tremendous offensive rebounder. Robinson, the son of Basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson, was the last addition to the roster. The rookie forward showed great promise in college as a three-point shooter and shot-blocker. Pavic is reliable around the rims and a good shooter. Lazic is an intriguing player at small forward; he is strong on defense and able to score in many ways on offense. Uros Lukovic offers his size, presence, post moves and shot-blocking abilities. Expect him to be one of the best defensive centers in the competition. Radoje Vujosevic will be one of Lukovic's backups, providing toughness and energy off the bench.
PLAYER TO WATCH
On a very deep team, Pullen is set to be Mornar Bar's top gun. At age 30, Pullen is at the prime of his career and playing at a great level in Mornar Bar. Last season, he averaged 16.1 points and 5.0 assists in the Adriatic League. For the first time in his career, after stops in Israel, Italy, Spain, China, Croatia, Russia, USA, Iran and Turkey, Pullen is set to play a second consecutive season with the same club. He still holds the Spanish League record with 12 triples in a game for FC Barcelona in the 2013-14 season, his third as a professional. Pullen is just unstoppable when he is on a good streak, as he can hit shots with unlimited range, attack the basket or find the open teammate for an easier shot. He has found consistency with Mornar Bar, scoring in double digits in 20 of 21 Adriatic League games and hopes to take that into the EuroCup in his fifth season in the competition.
Mornar Bar has a deep, experienced roster in which 11 players have been with the team either last season or in the past. As such, adjustments will not be a major problem for Coach Mihailo Pavicevic's squad. Its late addition will allow us to see the first-ever all-Montenegrin showdown in the competition when it faces Buducnost VOLI Podgorica. Group B also features Boulogne Metropolitans, Germani Brescia, ratiopharm Ulm and Unicaja Malaga, all with more EuroCup experience. Even so, Mornar Bar has a strong backcourt in which many players can score and a very versatile frontcourt that must provide the intensity and aggressiveness. Mornar Bar looks to be a tough opponent with enough talent and know-how to beat anyone, anywhere.