Credit: ZUMAPRESS.com-Scanpix
Credit ZUMAPRESS.com-Scanpix

Joventut Badalona is currently on the top of the 7Days EuroCup Group A with 4 wins and just one loss, the one suffered at Belgrade in a thrilling game against Partizan. In the ACB League, the Catalans are just behind Madrid, Barcelona, and Lenovo Tenerife in the standings (7-4).

Points this season

49%
78,4
Points made: 78,4
Accuracy: 49,2%
Place in standings: 14
Record max: 90
Record min: 67
Best scorer: Joel Parra

This is more than good for a historical club that was, just three years ago, in a dramatic situation. Not irreversible, but close to that. Players were unpaid and the team was in trouble in the league.

Let's focus on the 2017-2018 season. Joventut have won just 4 games from 19 played in ACB. An unacceptable register that forced Juanan Morales, president's club, to fire head coach Diego Ocampo.

Joventut needed a change of direction. And Carles Duran was the chosen one. After being part of Bilbao Basket, the Catalan coach was unemployed. He was in Berlin with Aito Garcia Reneses, learning about his methods in Alba.

Credit BNS

Suddenly, the phone rang. "They called me to ask for where I was, what I was doing and if I would be able to hear an offer", explained Duran in an interview with El Pais. 

Duran accepted and took over the team just before the Spanish Cup.

That season was harsh, but Duran was stubborn and accomplished the feat. Despite losing his first 5 games (no wins in March), Joventut resurfaced by winning 8 of the last 10 games. The goal was achieved. 

There was a huge key: Nicolas Laprovittola. The Argentinian guard arrived on loan from Zenit late in January and helped Joventut to stay in ACB. He averaged 16.4 points per game.

Next year, he would be back to become the MVP of the 2018-19 season. Joventut qualified for the 7Days EuroCup, reaching the Spanish Cup semifinals defeating Baskonia in the quarterfinals.

Everything improved, especially after Grifols' family entered as shareholders in the club. The economic situation changed radically.

After the pandemic season, Joventut played again in the EuroCup, being eliminated in the quarterfinals against Virtus Segafredo Bologna. Two tight games were decided by just 5 and 6 points respectively.

Experience and Joel Parra. Where is the limit? 

Having taken a look at the previous years with Carles Duran on the bench, let's move on into this season. Joventut has won 11 of the first 15 games of the season, having lost just one at home. 

Although they have been struggling with injuries (Brandon Paul's back or Bassas' right wrist), the Catalans are performing well in the EuroCup this season. 

They share the ball well, leading the ranking with 22,8 assists per game. They are also productive near the rim, with a 59% in two-point shots, leaving their opponents to just a 44% from 2P (best mark in the competition).

It makes sense with Ante Tomic in the team, who is averaging 12.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. The Croatian center is at an impressive 41.39 PIR per 40 minutes, which is the best stats in the competition, slightly better than Motley. 

On the other hand, they are not effective from the three-point line, with just 28,5% efficiency. Only Wroclaw and Trento are shooting worse from three. 

Apart from Tomic, who is the most experienced guy with Pau Ribas, the player who is shining the most in these first two months is Joel Parra. The forward, born in 2000, is another talent made in Badalona. 

As Villacampa, Jofresa's brothers, Rudy, Ricky... The list is endless and it is still growing. That's why Joventut still invests in youth teams, bringing Aito's back from their sabbatical time. 

Parra is currently the most-used player by coach Duran, with 24 minutes per game in the EuroCup. And the youngster is doing pretty well. He is averaging 13.4 points per game with 65.6% from 2P and 94.1% from FT.

In addition to this, Joventut is a good mixture of experience, smart guys like Guillem Vives (who came back this summer to his former team after seven years in Valencia) and Ferran Bassas (who reappeared this weekend after a three-month injury), role players like Brodziansky and Birgander and Albert Ventura, the captain. 

Barring injuries, it is fair to believe they are among the candidates to reach the finals.

Joventut will visit Lietkabelis Panevezys this Wednesday at Cido Arena.  

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2022-01-10
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