Despite going through several changes in the roster during the regular season, Herbalife Gran Canaria managed to find its form and finish atop Group D with an 8-2 record, with both losses on the road. It was a splendid 7DAYS EuroCup return for Granca after being away for a few seasons.
Gran Canaria started the season with a couple of wins, but then it suffered its first loss in Round 3 at Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, 84-68. The team recovered well however and won six of its last seven games with just another road loss, which came at Nanterre 92, 90-74. In Round 8, Granca shined over Olimpija as Matthew Costello led the winners with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists to secure a Top 16 berth. Granca's biggest win so far this season was on the road at Frutti Extra Bursaspor, 76-94, behind 18 points from John Shurna.
Small forward Stanley Okoye is in his debut season in the EuroCup and has already emerged as Granca's team leader. Okoye averaged 13.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 steals in over 26 minutes per game; he was one of only two players to compete in all 10 regular-season games for Granca. He's shot 30 of 67 from beyond the arc (44.8%) and scored 25 and 24 points, respectively, in Rounds 6 and 7. He arrived late to the islands last season and has shown that he can be the main reference on the court that the team needs.
Beka Burjanadze is still waiting for his big break to become one of the pillars of the Granca team. He has averaged 3.2 points and 2.0 rebounds off the bench in nine games this season. Against Promitheas Patras, he had his best game of the season to date with 7 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. This is his third EuroCup season and he landed on the islands after four seasons of double-digit scoring averages in the Spanish League. Burjanadze has the potential to become an important man on this team and the Top 16 could be the perfect chance for him to prove it.
Did you know?
Gran Canaria is the team that has attempted and made the most three-pointers in the league. In 10 games, the team has put up 317 shots from beyond the arc and made 129 of them. Its 40.7% shooting from downtown is third overall in the league. Okoye stands at the top of the attempts list with 67, followed by Tomas Dimsa (48) and Andrew Albicy (35). Among these three players, they have fired up 150 threes, while the entire Buducnost VOLI Podgorica squad has attempted a total of 196 in the regular season. There's no doubt that Granca is a threat from beyond the arc.
The start of the Top 16 will be a big question mark for Gran Canaria. The team just signed two new players, Sean Kilpatrick and Earl Clark, while AJ Slaughter arrived late in the regular season. Granca also lost Frankie Ferrari to Unicaja Malaga and Jacob Wiley will be in the States for an undisclosed period recovering from COVID-19. Albicy and Matt Costello finished the regular season with injuries. The team has undergone many changes since the start of the season and the key will be to adapt to those changes and keep performing the way it has until now. Group H will feature a variety of opponents with different styles, but luckily there will be only one rather long trip for the team to Montenegro, while the rest will be close. That can be a big factor in favor of a team that wants to try to get as far as possible.