A perennial favorite welcomes the hottest team in the BKT EuroCup in one of Round 7’s premier matchups on Tuesday.
Joventut looks to overcome injuries, undefeated Paris
In a top-class BKT EuroCup showdown in Group A, Joventut Badalona (3-3) will look for a much-needed win against undefeated Paris Basketball (6-0) at Palau Olimpic on Tuesday night.
In the last four EuroCup seasons, Joventut had a 33-5 home record (86.8%), going unbeaten at home in the 2019-20 campaign and losing once just in 2021-22. This season, Joventut is 2-2 at home, with one of those victories requiring overtime against Wolves Vilnius.
Why is Joventut struggling at home? Injuries, mainly. Right now, Joventut is without star playmaker Andres Feliz and big men Ante Tomic and Vladimir Brodziansky. One of the main off-season signings, power forward Chinanu Onuaku, left the club earlier this month. In times of need, Joventut is set to do what it has always done best: give playing time to homegrown talents from its fantastic youth program.
Ruben Prey is expected to be the team's starting center until either Brodziansky or Tomic return. Born in Portugal, Prey joined Joventut at age 15 and soon started playing with its Spanish fourth division team. Three years later, he is seeing quality playing time in the EuroCup. Prey had 7 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in a home loss against London Lions last week. Another top prospect, 17-year-old big man Michael Ruzic, has averaged 3.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in under 8 minutes on average since making his EuroCup debut against Veolia Hamburg Towers in Round 5.
Joventut, however, will rely a lot on guard Andrew Andrews to bounce back. Andrews has stepped up in recent games, getting 33 points in a Round 5 victory over Veolia Hamburg Towers and 20 against London last week. His points will be critical against a high-scoring team like Paris, led by playmaker T.J. Shorts, who has been almost unstoppable until now.
Shorts is averaging 17.0 points and leading the competition in assists (7.7) and steals (2.5). He ranks fourth in PIR (21.3) despite being completely off-target from beyond the arc (11.1% 3FG). Just like five of his teammates, Shorts played for head coach Tuomas Iisalo at Telekom Baskets Bonn last season and their adjustment to a new team and a new competition has been really fast.
Paris leads the competition in PIR (121.0), on track to set an all-time record that currently belongs to ratiopharm ulm at 111.6 per game last season. Paris is also first in scoring (101.2 ppg.), making 40.0% of its three-pointers despite Shorts's struggles from downtown. Bandja Sy (70.0% 3FG), Collin Malcolm (55.6%) and Tyson Ward (48.1%) are shooting over 45.0% from deep so far.
Stopping Shorts should be Joventut's first priority, and the hosts will rely on Pau Ribas to do so. Ribas has been one of the best defensive guards in European basketball over the last decade due to his off-the-charts basketball IQ and high intensity. He joined Joventut at age 5 and has always been linked to the club, so his commitment and ability to keep the team together will be critical in these injury-plagued times.
Fans at Palau Olimpic will have the chance to see some of the top candidates to win the EuroCup Rising Star award this season. Nadir Hifi, age 21, is having a great EuroCup debut campaign, coming off the bench to average 15.8 points, 3.0 assists and a PIR of 13.0. His flashy playing style, looking for spectacular assists, is well-loved by Paris and European basketball fans alike. Versatile forward Yannick Kraag is also having a groundbreaking season in Badalona, averaging 7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and a PIR of 10.0.
This game has everything to be a great showdown. Paris arrives with a perfect start in Group A, but Badalona is always a tough place to play. Joventut has a chance to please its fans with a bounce-back victory, and many young players can showcase their talent.