A three-time EuroCup Quarterfinalist, Buducnost VOLI Podgorica is back in the Top 16 and looking to make another deep run in the competition. And the Montenegrin power will be even stronger going forward with the addition of former All-EuroCup First Team member Amedeo Della Valle, who joined the club in October, but was not eligible to suit up in the EuroCup until the Top 16.
Buducnost started the season nicely with Nikola Ivanovic going for 24 points in a 93-81 opening-night victory over Germani Brescia followed by an 83-89 road win at Boulogne Metropolitans 92 behind an MVP of the Round performance by Willie Reed. After leading through three quarters against Unicaja Malaga, Buducnost lost on the Round in Round 3, but bounced back led by Ivanovic's 21 points against ratiopharm Ulm to improve to 3-1 for a share of first place in Group B. After losing at Mornar Bar and against Unicaja, Melvin Ejim shined in road games at Brescia and Ulm as Buducnost clinched a Top 16 berth with two games remaining. Despite narrow losses in its last two games, Buducnost finished fourth in the group with a 5-5 record.
Sensational sixth man Nikola Ivanovic is in the midst of the finest season in his career as a rock for Buducnost – and that's saying something after he was named to the 2017-18 All-EuroCup Second Team. Ivanovic's 17.7 points per game and PIR of 19.0 are not only among the best in the competition, but they more than doubled what he compiled last season. The combo-guard was the EuroCup's regular-season leader in fouls drawn with 68 in 10 games and he knocked down 84.5% of his free throws. Ivanovic has not only been spectacular, but remarkably consistent; he has scored at least 12 points in every game this season, dished at least 4 assists on seven occasions and made multiple threes in a game six times. The 26-year-old can be counted on to be there when Buducnost needs him in the Top 16, too.
To see most of the best 17-year-olds in Europe, you can follow the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament. Fedor Zugic, however, is already a part-time starter for Buducnost with greatness ahead of him. The 1.98-meter swingman saw fairly limited playing time early this season as he gathered experience, but before long he forced the team's hand. After averaging 2.0 points in 7:31 minutes in his first three games in Rounds 3-5, Zugic started four of Buducnost's last five games, during which he averaged 6.2 points in 16:04 of playing time. In his best game yet, Zugic went for 14 points on 2-of-3 three-point shooting at Mornar Bar in 23:48 minutes in Round 10. Getting better all the time, Zugic is a blossoming talent to watch out for in the Top 16.
Did you know?
Buducnost is one of the EuroCup's historic teams. It is playing in its 14th EuroCup campaign and has woven itself into the fabric of the competition. Buducnost enters the Top 16 tied for 11th all-time with 63 wins. Group E's Joventut Badalona also has 63. Zenit St. Petersburg is 10th with 67 all-time wins. The club is also sixth in all-time three-pointers made (1,145), seventh in points scored (11,621) and rebounds (4,833) and eighth in steals (1,139). Despite its success, Buducnost has not had a winning record in the EuroCup since 2007-08, when after going 7-3 in the regular season, it was upset by Hemofarm Stada in the Last 32.
Group G of the Top 16 is in some ways uncharted waters for Buducnost. Despite having played 154 EuroCup games since its debut in 2003, the Top 16 will be the first time the club faces any of its Group G foes: JL Bourg en Bresse, Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana or Virtus Segafredo Bologna. Of course, Buducnost knows Olimpija well; it has faced that team regularly in the Adriatic League and they could square off again in that competition during the Top 16, too. Buducnost was 3-2 on the road in the regular season and if it continues to do well on the road and plays better at home, it can be in the picture to reach the quarterfinals again.