By Antigoni Zachari / firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2021-22 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season delivered great spectacle to the fans, not least because some “new kids on the block” made their first appearance in the competition count. Some have played a key role in helping their teams clinch playoff berths, while others shined to keep their teams competitive through tough times.
A mix of rookies and veterans made their EuroCup debuts this season, and Eurohoops evaluates the performance of those newcomers who had a strong impact on their respective teams.
Andrew Andrews – G – Frutti Extra Bursaspor
13.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists in 16 games
Every cloud has a silver lining and that was the case for Bursaspor, which lost top-scorer Allerik Freeman mid-season. Andrew Andrews took up a starring role for the Turkish team in the second leg of the regular season to lead it to continental playoffs for the first time in club history. Andrews made a statement with 37 points against Virtus, shortly after Freeman’s departure, to send out a strong message in regards to Bursa’s might.
Caleb Homesley – G – Hamburg Towers
17.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists in 13 games
Hamburg took risks while heading into its first EuroCup campaign, and one of them was signing Caleb Homesley to his first professional deal. It turns out that this risk not only worked, but the American guard is among the competition’s top scorers. Throughout the regular season, he has shown that he can be a scoring threat, which gives a great boost to the German team before their upcoming matchup against the equally strong offense of Valencia.
Jaylon Brown – G/F – Hamburg Towers
16.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists in 14 games
Staying in Hamburg’s backcourt, Jaylon Brown is another gem this EuroCup season brought to light. Brown made the jump to Germany after a three-year stint in Bilbao and the Spanish League to become a core piece of Pedro Calles’ system. Throughout the regular season, he averaged roughly 40% efficiency from the three-point line, which places him third overall in the competition, behind teammate Homesley and Gediminas Orelik.
Yam Madar – G – Partizan NIS Belgrade
8.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists in 16 games
Yam Madar came a long way to take on a new challenge for himself at Partizan under coach Zeljko Obradovic, and it turns out this was the best decision for the 21-year-old EuroCup rookie. The turning point was a mid-season win over Trento in which he posted 18 points to lead his team. Ever since, he has gained lots of confidence and the trust of his coach. An avid shooter, Madar averages 46.2% from the three-point line, making him a lethal weapon in Partizan’s rotation.
Axel Julien – G – Mincidelicie JL Bourg en Bresse
8.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists in 18 games
French international Axel Julien has years of point guard experience, yet somehow he made his EuroCup debut at age 29. Bourg’s season didn’t have an ideal ending, though Julien and his teammates put up resilient efforts and managed to either upset or make some favorites sweat.
Jaron Blossomgame – F – ratiopharm Ulm
15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 17 games
Former NBA player Jaron Blossomgame helped bring Ulm to the next level, providing reliable efforts both from mid-range and the three-point line. He’s scored in double figures in all but four games in the regular season to become one of Ulm’s leaders. His impact on the squad became totally clear… in his absence, as Ulm suffered its worst defeat of the season to Valencia in Round 18 when he was sidelined.
Panagiotis Kalaitzakis – F – Lietkabelis Panavezys
13.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists in 18 games
Lietkabelis reached the eighthfinals again after the 2016-17 season (Top 16) and Panagiotis Kalaitzakis is the core piece behind this success. The Greek forward’s improvement in the 2021-22 season is noteworthy, which brings him newfound confidence when the game is getting hot. In his first EuroCup campaign, Kalaitzakis has taken clutch shots in tight games, and in the meantime, he has skyrocketed his numbers from the three-point line for the first time in his career (36.2%).
Nikolaos Rogkavopoulos – F – Promitheas Patras
8.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists in 14 games
Promitheas’s season was quite rocky, with coaching changes and disheartening defeats resulting in the team’s elimination from the playoffs. Amid those hardships, Rogkavopoulos was a diamond in the rough and the biggest “win” for Promitheas this season. He missed the team’s last two games of the regular season, but bid goodbye with a 20-point performance against favorites Virtus Bologna in Round 16.
Jasiel Rivero – C – Valencia Basket
11.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists in 17 games
Loyal to head coach Joan Penarroya, center Jasiel Rivero followed him to Valencia to create a super solid frontcourt along with veterans Bojan Dubljevic and Mike Tobey. The Cuban center sure has Penarroya’s trust, starting six of his 17 games this season and ofttimes receiving more time on the court than the squad’s aforementioned bigs. Rivero shoots an extremely solid 69% from the mid-range, ranking second-best this season behind only Mam Jaiteh of Virtus.
Maik Kotsar – C – Hamburg Towers
12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 15 games
Estonian international Maik Kotsar grew up with Tallinn side Audentes before heading to South Carolina to begin his college career and in 2020 he landed in Hamburg as one of coach Calles’ first picks upon taking over the bench. In his second season with the Germans, Kotsar has learned the ropes and made the next step forward, as Hamburg seems to be lacking in depth when it comes to bigs.
Christiano Felicio – C – ratiopharm Ulm
12.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists in 11 games
In his first European campaign, former NBA big Christiano Felicio made a strong start, though unfortunately an injury has cut his season short and it’s not clear whether he can return for Ulm’s eighthfinal matchup against Joventut Badalona. Even with just an 11-game presence, Felicio has managed to place himself in the third position for total rebounds in the 2021-22 campaign.
Balsa Koprovica – C – Partizan NIS Belgrade
6.5 points, 5.2 rebounds in 16 games
Soon to turn 22, Balsa Koprovica is another youngster on Zeljko Obradovic’s roster who is making full use of his first EuroCup experience, and his first professional contract. The Belgrade native has started 9 of his 16 games this season, which shows the level of trust between him and his coach, bearing in mind that Partizan’s center position is loaded with talent and experience.
Photo credit: EuroCup