After three years, the contract between the Adriatic League and the EuroLeague has expired. In the new season, teams from the area of former Yugoslavia enter with the promise of the first man of the EuroLeague that a wild card will go to the winner of the Adriatic League. The irony is that in a year when the league does not have a direct card for champion for the EuroLeague, so many teams bring respectable players, and thus show ambition for a high ranking in this competition.
Let’s start, in each text we will show the roster of four teams and try to show their final range at the end of the regular season.
BUDUCNOST – Montenegro, Podgorica
Can the title go back to Podgorica … if you ask Montenegrin fans it can
After winning the 2018 title, Buducnost has brought many expensive acquisitions. Although, on paper, these were all proven players with the clear task of preserving the title in Podgorica, something did not click between them, and we all witnessed that there was no chemistry between teammates. The change of coach on half season, when Dzikic was replaced by the experienced Croatian coach, Jasmin Repesa, did not produce the desired result. The 2018 Adriatic Champions, after a not so pleasant experience in the EuroLeague and losing championship in the fifth game of the final vs Red Star, chose a different path to regain the title this year.
Norris Cole, Earl Clark, Goga Bitadze – who join the Indiana Pacers in the NBA, Sead Sehovic, Edwin Jackson, James Bell, Coty Clarke and Nemanja Gordic – who left to join Partizan Belgrade – left the team. The team was joined by Hassan Martin, Martins Meiers, Zoran Nikolic – who came back to Podgorica after one year loan from Mega – , Scott Wood, Scot Bamforth and Justin Cobbs.
The last two listed will be the first options in offense for the new coach Slobodan Subotic. Scot Bamforth is the team’s top scorer in preseason and has made a good impression so far.
CIBONA – Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb’s basketball pride has awakened
Five years have passed since the stumbling giant from Zagreb managed to win the Adriatic league, defeating, on their way to the title, in the middle of Belgrade, then the first favorite of the competition, Red Star, in the semifinal game. Unfortunately, their success was not adequately rewarded, given that Cibona had to give up playing in the EuroLeague that year, due to financial problems.
After six years, they have managed to regain the Croatian national title championship. Is it time for the famous club to take it a step further?
They kept Ivan Velic as head coach, which guarantees a certain continuity in the management of the club, and shows their visions. Also, team captain, veteran Marin Rozic, is still in the squad and will have an important role this year – to be a role model to one of the most talented players in the entire region, seventeen-year-old power forward, Roko Prkacin.
Six new players joined the Cibona team – Mate Vucic, Donatas Sabeckis, Marko Ramljak, Shane Gibson, Roberto Kovac and Malcolm Jaleel Rhett. Coach Velic’s biggest task this season will be to fit a lot of new players, out of which many had not played this type of competition, into one group, where everyone will have their own task.
MEGA BEMAX – Belgrade, Serbia
Fast and furious… Belgrade edition
Despite being by far the youngest team in the league, Mega Bemax has some of the most talented players in the region, and many have great careers ahead of them, be sure of it. One of the strongest agents in Europe, Misko Raznatovic, continues, via his agency Beobasket, to gather the most talented kids of the region in this club, thus giving them a chance to play at a very young age on the big stage. The major change this year for Mega is that they moved their home court from Sremska Mitrovica to Belgrade again, to the Ranko Zeravica Hall.
Head coach Dejan Milojevic, who is leading the team for the seventh year in a row, can count on eight last year’s players out of which you don’t know who is more talented. Remember the names – Nikola Miskovic, Luka Asceric, Edin Atic, Luka Cerovina, Ognjen Carapic, Filip Stanic, Andrija Marjanovic and Aleksandar Langovic.
Also, this summer they signed five top prospects – Nikola Tanaskovic, Jurij Macura, Uros Trifunovic, Marko Simonovic and Novak Music. The oldest player on the team is 22 years old, while the youngest Langovic is only 18.
The ultimate reach of this team cannot be predicted, but one thing is certain, that all basketball fans will enjoy the games of this prosperous team.
ZADAR – Zadar, Croatia
God created man, and Zadar created basketball
Anyone who has been to this city once, will confirm that Zadar lives for basketball. The club of glorious tradition and great fans, in recent years, has encountered some difficulties in financial situation, which is reflected by the team’s position in the region.
The last success was in 2008 when Zadar won the Croatian National Championship. Too much time has passed for a club of such reputation.
As far as the head coach position is concerned, Zadar is no different than other participants of this year’s Adriatic League, because Ante Nazor has remained as the head coach of the team, news that the fans of this club have been eagerly anticipating.
So far, 10 players left the club, and just as many have been brought in, as their replacements. Zadar also had an embarrassing situation with Tony Wroten, an American who played in the NBA, confirmed his arrival to the club, was officially announced and then, suddenly, changed his mind.
Zadar left Kwame Vaungh, Sime Spralja, Mislav Brzoja, Kristijan Krajina, Mario Little, Luka Bozic, Vladimir Dasic, Luka Zoric and William Magarity. As their replacement management brought Karlo Uljarevic, Jan Palokaj, Ive Ivanov, James Farr, Ivan Siriscevic, Martin Junakovic, Dominic Gilbert, Bryon Allen and Stefan Fundic Serbian power forward from Mega Bamax.
On first sight, it seems that head coach Nazor will have problems with so many new players, especially given the fact that three players of the age of 19 are in team roster.