Valencia Basket is the most successful club in 7DAYS EuroCup history and the Spanish team goes into 2021-22 shooting for its record fifth title. Valencia will have a new man patrolling the sidelines after Joan Penarroya took over as head coach from Jaume Ponsarnau. But the team is still loaded with much of the roster still intact from last season in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
The core of the backcourt is back with the excellent trio of Klemen Prepelic, Martin Hermannsson and Sam Van Rossom. Prepelic remains one of the deadliest outside shooters in Europe and the 28-year-old comes back to Valencia after helping Slovenia qualify for the 2020 Olympics and then reach the semifinals in Japan. Just like Prepelic, Hermannsson was new to the club last season and the Icelandic playmaker shined setting up his teammates while also making defenses pay for letting him shoot from long range. Van Rossom has been one of the faces of Valencia for ages and he still can lead an offense over stretches at 35 years of age. The main addition to the backcourt was Nenad Dimitrijevic on a four-year deal from Joventut Badalona. The playmaker averaged double figures in scoring plus more than 3.5 assists in both of the last two EuroCup seasons with Joventut, flashing a strong drive to the basket.
The frontcourt is rock solid with Bojan Dubljevic, Louis Labeyrie and Mike Tobey all back while the team also added Victor Claver, Xabi Lopez-Arostegui and Jasiel Rivero. Dubljevic is the EuroCup’s all-time leading scorer (1,445 points) and rebounder (648) and ranks sixth in games played (119) - despite the fact that he only turns 30 on October 24. Power forward Labeyrie showed he can take over games offensively at times, having scored 15 points or more 10 times in the EuroLeague and Spanish League. Tobey had eight such games and also gained the invaluable experience of playing for Slovenia at the Olympics alongside Prepelic. As if that trio wasn’t strong enough, Valencia added some major reinforcements. Rivero comes from San Pablos Burgos and will be making his EuroCup debut in the blocks, where he is a beast. Claver brings a wealth of experience and at 32 can still help his former team, with which he won the 2010 EuroCup crown. Valencia also added Lopez-Arostegui on a long-term deal and he will thrive on the wing as he does his thing: draining open three-pointers.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jasiel Rivero is a new face for the EuroCup, but the Cuban big man is no stranger to European basketball as he played a major role in Burgos winning back-to-back Basketball Champions League titles. Even though the 27-year-old is joining a new club, Coach Joan Penarroya knows Rivero very well as he was Burgos’s coach the past two seasons. Rivero is highly efficient around the basket and also has some flair. Expect him to have a big role in the Valencia frontcourt.
Valencia has won the EuroCup four times (2003, 2010, 2014 and 2019) and reached the finals two more times (2012 and 2017), which has meant going back and forth between the EuroCup and EuroLeague. In its 12 seasons in the EuroCup, Valencia only once failed to reach at least the quarterfinals (the Last 32 in 2016) and the team’s goal going into 2021-22 is nothing less than getting back to the finals. Penarroya has shown he’s a winning coach and also comes to a Valencia team with eight players back from the team that played in the EuroLeague last season. Accordingly, Valencia should be considered a favorite to challenge for the title.