Joventut Badalona returned to the EuroCup last season for the first time since 2009-10. In addition to locking up Coach Carles Duran, the club brought in former EuroLeague champion Nikos Zisis as well as former EuroCup champ Alen Omic and marksman Klemen Prepelic. Joventut, which besides Real is the only club to win both the EuroCup (2008) and EuroLeague (2004), had a season of highs and lows - especially in terms of where its games were played. Joventut lost its first game back in the competition, on the road against Nanterre 92, but Prepelic carried the team to a win over Germani Brescia Leonessa in Round 2 for the club’s first EuroCup victory in nearly a decade. Round 3 provided one of the EuroCup highlights of the season as Prepelic nailed a three-quarters court buzzer-beater for an 85-82 home victory over Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul. The road woes continued though, with losses at Brescia and Darussfaka before knocking off UNICS Kazan at home in Round 9 to seal a spot in the Top 16. That was needed as Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana beat Joventut in the Slovenian capital in the final game of the regular season to leave the team with a 5-5 record. The home-road dynamics continued in the Top 16, starting with a tight home win over MoraBanc Andorra. Joventut lost at Unicaja Malaga in Round 2 and followed that with a home victory against Tofas Bursa. But Tofas answered with a Round 4 win and Joventut fell dramatically in Round 5 at Andorra, losing 90-89 on a three-pointer with 2.6 seconds left. That left Joventut already eliminated before its final game, a home win over Unicaja - leaving Joventut 8-0 at home and 0-8 on the road during the EuroCup. Domestically, Joventut reached the Spanish Copa del Rey and beat Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in the quarterfinals but was bounced in the semifinals by Real Madrid. In the Spanish League, Joventut collected a 9-14 record in the league, which had it 12th in the standings when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the end of the regular season. In the playoffs, Joventut picked up two wins in five games.
Last season, Joventut Badalona managed to reach the EuroCup playoffs with a mix of experienced veterans and up-and-coming talent. Joventut is set to follow the same recipe in the 2021-22 campaign and returns to the EuroCup with two valuable years of experience. Expect Joventut to be there when the most decisive games of the season arrive.
Joventut was founded in 1930 and quickly built a reputation based on its faith in homegrown players. The long list of Joventut players brought up through its youth system features decades' worth of stars such as Jordi Villacampa, the Margall brothers, the Jofresa brothers, Nino Buscato, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio. To its mine of local talent, Joventut integrated talented outsiders, among whom the names Moka Slavnic, Joe Galvin and Corny Thompson stand out. Joventut emerged as a national power by winning four Spanish Copas del Rey between 1948 and 1958 and its first league title in 1967 with Buscato as the star. It was not until Slavnic arrived that the team would claim its second league title in 1978. Joventut continued to progress, winning its first European trophy by lifting the Korac Cup in 1981. Joventut added a second Korac Cup in 1990 by sweeping the two-game total-points finals against Scavolini Pesaro.
Soon after moving to Palau Olimpic, its current home court, Joventut won consecutive Spanish League titles in 1991 and 1992, the year in which the team lost the EuroLeague final against Partizan in dramatic fashion. Joventut only waited two more years to lift the crown, however. Villacampa and Thompson hit crucial three-pointers to beat Olympiacos 59-57 in Tel Aviv and win the EuroLeague title. Joventut went on to add the Copa del Rey in 1997, but a downturn followed. Joventut started to shine again in the newborn EuroCup and reached the semifinals in 2003. Joventut had its breakout season in 2006, as it advanced to the Spanish League semifinals and won a new European trophy, the FIBA EuroCup. The following season, Joventut returned to the Spanish League semifinals and made the EuroLeague Top 16. In 2008, Joventut added the ULEB Cup to its roll of honors, losing just one game in the entire season and clinching the title with a 54-79 win against Akasvayu Girona in the final as Fernandez was named MVP. Joventut also won the Copa del Rey and reached the Spanish League semifinals to round out one of the best seasons in club history.
Joventut reached the EuroCup Last 16 in 2010, but lost its competitiveness shortly thereafter. It bounced back in 2018-19, reaching the Copa del Rey semifinals and the Spanish League playoffs behind Spanish League MVP Nico Laprovittola. The club was undefeated at home and winless on the road in the EuroCup in 2019-20 before suffering elimination in the Top 16. Last season, Ante Tomic, Neno Dimitrijevic and Xabi Lopez-Arostegui took Joventut one step higher. Joventut advanced to the EuroCup Quarterfinals, losing against Virtus Segafredo Bologna. It also made it to the Spanish League playoffs and the Spanish Copa del Rey tournament.
Players come and go but the club's philosophy remains the same. New players should keep coming to Joventut's first team through its one-of-a-kind youth system in which good coaching and solid fundamentals come first. Some of its most experienced players are homegrown, too, which means Joventut's commitment should be out of the question, looking to reach even higher in the 2021-22 EuroCup.