Adriatic league, season 2019/2020 Part 2

Photo: ABALeague.com

The second part of the Adriatic League team presentation

RED STAR – Belgrade, Serbia

The Serbian powerhouse is back on the throne, and plans to remain there

The winner of 4 out of the previous 5 Adriatic leagues and the current champions, Red Star, has by far the strongest squad in this year’s edition of the league. Considering the increased budget and playing in the EuroLeague, it seems that the ambitions of the Red Star this season are slightly higher than in the previous ones (in the EuroLeague, in the Adriatic the title goes without saying). They will try to reach the TOP 8 in Euroleague, which will give their rivals an opportunity to threaten their present position. 

Until winning the title, often criticized head coach Milan Tomic managed to retain 11 players from the previous season, and upgrade them with a few more outstanding players. Considering that this season will be longer and more difficult than the previous one, the number of players is not surprising.

One of the best defenders in the league Branko Lazic, 2019 ABA Playoffs MVP Billy Baron, Stratos Perperoglou, Mouhammad Faye, Dejan Davidovac, Ognjen Dobric and very talented Borisa Simanic are a solid base for the ambitions that Red Star has for the new season.

Belgrade powerhouse has made some big signings. Charles Jenkins, a player who has worn the Red Star jersey twice already, and a fan favorite, is back, with Lorenzo Brown, who came from the NCAA. The two biggest names who arrived to the club this summer are James Gist and Derrick Brown.

Prediction: 1-2

MORNAR – Bar, Montenegro

Does the best Mornar team in its history bring the same result

The Pavićević brothers, a duo who lead Mornar, one as the head coach and the other as a president, have decided to raise the stakes this year, and form the strongest team in the history of Mornar basketball club. This little town in Montenegro is living for the basketball and the new season.

They retained most of the players from the previous season, including shooting guard Nemanja Vranjes, who’s counting his third season in Mornar in a row, Marko Mugosa, Vukota Pavic, Antabia Waller, Ivan Jelenic, and Uros Lukovic, a 213cm tall center who managed to average 7 rebounds per game last season.

Derek Needham and Brandis Raley-Ross have returned to the club, as well. Montenegrin international Milko Bjelica, from Japan league, and Sead Sehovic, from Buducnost, also arrived to Mornar this summer, as well as Jacob Pullen, guard from Cedevita, who came with awesome statistic of 17.4ppg for only 22.5 minutes in game. The last two signings were Damir Markota and Mirza Begic, very experienced players.

In the preseason games, Mornar did not show much of its capabilities. It seems that the biggest problem is the number of excellent options in the guard positions, and that head coach Pavicevic will have big problems, to fit both the minutes and the roles in the team, of Derek Needham and Jacob Pullen.

If the team and couching staff are patient, Mornar can easily go into the first four teams, because they certainly have the quality to do so.

Prediction: 5-8

KOPER PRIMORSKA – Koper, Slovenia

The important thing in life is not to triumph but to compete… it doesn’t exactly work for these guys, they want to triumph

Primorska was founded in 2016 as a cooperation of BC Lastovka Domzale, and BC Kos Koper. In 2019 the club changed its name to Koper Primorska, as the two clubs have officially merged. Last season, the third in club history, has been the best so far. Primorska won all the competitions in which they participated in – Slovenian Super Cup, Slovenian Cup, Adriatic League 2 and Slovenian Championship.

Primorska’s management always has the highest ambitions, and the results from previous seasons give them the right to hope that their debut in the Adriatic first division will not go unnoticed. Primorska is still undefeated in the ongoing preseason.

Head coach, Jurica Golemac, can count on 8 players from the previous season at the start of his third season on the Primorska bench. Zan Mark Sisko, Lance Harris, Marjan Cakanur, Alen Hodzic, Luka Voncina, Alen Kosi and best player from last year Marko Jagodic Kuridza with impressive stats that reach value index of 22.5 per game, stayed in Koper to try to enroll in the history of this small town in Slovenia.

Just 4 players have arrived in Koper this summer, 193cm tall shooting guard Stephen Holt from Astana, after 4 years in Zlatorog, a young prospect, guard Nejc Baric, Aleksandar Lazic from Olimpija and the 2017 EuroBasket gold medalist 210cm tall center, Ziga Dimec.

Success in the first season of the Adriatic League for this likable team and its loyal fans would certainly be a staying among regional basketball elite.

Prediction: 8-12

CEDEVITA OLIMPIJA – Slovenia, Ljubljana

New club, old ambitions

Created by the joining of two teams, the Zagreb’s Cedevita and the Olimpija from Ljubljana, this project threatens much to interfere in the fight for the very top of the Adriatic league, and therefore for the title. All we have to do is look at their current roster and conclude that they have the highest ambitions in the new season.

Despite all big name players, the first star of the team will certainly be Slaven Rimac. A great coach who led Cibona to the 2014 Adriatic championship, despite the huge financial problems that the club was facing at the time, which proves that he knows how to make a homogeneous team and always gets the most out of his players.

With him, from Cedevita, came several players, Filip Kruslin, Andrija Stipanovic and Edo Muric. Two former Red star players Jaka Blazic and Marko Simonovic, winner of two Adriatic title with Red Star and a forward of Serbian national team.

On point guard they have a familiar face to all basketball fans in region, Ryan Boatright. A brilliant American, who was the Cedevita’s best player a few years ago on his way to the Adriatic League Finals, when he was scoring average 17.1 points during the season.

They definitely will play an important role in the Adriatic league this season.

Prediction: 2-4