First we thought it would be hard to find somebody to write about a total newcomer in the Euroleague, but after getting Pietro Scibetta‘s article about Avellino, we were really surprised. Pietro founded the Italian web site basketground.it and is kind of THE man in Italy. I am sure Dan Peterson will be mad now…
Pietro is also the Editor of DREAM TEAM, the Italian NBA magazine. We are glad to have you on BallinEurope, Pietro!
Overall record prediction: 4-6
This will be the first ever European experience for the Air Avellino, which had an impressive season in 2007/08 scoring a 22-12 record in Serie A and winning the Italian Cup with coach Matteo Boniciolli, who left his job for family reasons.
Owner and president Vincenzo Ercolino called back to the Pala del Mauro the Macedonian coach Zare Markovski, who has already worked for the team for 3 seasons from 2003 to 2005, saving the team in the most important Italian league each time.
Markovski, 48, will back in the Euroleague after the brief experience with the Lugano Snakes in 2000/01 and especially after being fired from Virtus Bologna (after reaching playoffs final and the qualification for Euroleague) and Armani Jeans Milano, just a few days before an home debut against Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius.
The team is ambitious but had to release US point guard Dan Dickau due to his back problems, which was the most important signing of the summer.
Avellino is coming off the best season of its history, and will have to manage with the pressure to be effective in one other competition – and what a tough one!
The team has talent, even waiting the new point guard to replace Dickau, who was perfect to create many open shot situations for his teammates.
The most important guy is for sure US forward Tamar Slay, a player with NBa Finals experience (with New Jersey Nets) which will play, finally, for a team which get him to the greatest stage of European basketball.
Markovski, who is famous in Italy for his tactical experimentations during the same game, will use him in both forward spots, relying on the athleticism and refined offensive technique of his player.
Slay, who played a great last season still in Italy with Capo d’Orlando (16.4 ppg, 59.1% on 2pts and 4.4 rbs in 29.1 mins), now has the chance to prove himself to the best players of our Continent.
To help Slay, Avellino inked US scorer Chris Warren, who was very solid in the last season with Cibona Zagreb. Warren is maybe not so flashy, but always give what you expect from him, and he has always improved his numbers in his 3 seasons in Zagreb, growing from 8.2 to 15.6 ppg in Euroleague.
Antonio Porta completes the backcourt: he is a member of the National team of Argentina and former player of Biella and St. Petersburg, and will lead the team waiting for the new point guard. Will he be a classic playmaker like Dickau or maybe a scoring point?
Porta is the ultimate energetic guard, and lacks maybe pure playmaking skills but he always plays with great aggressiveness attacking his opponent on 1-vs-1 going for the basket or looking for a pass.
For a coach who played with guys like Guilherme Giovannoni and Christian Drejer at center position while he was working with Virtus Bologna, there will be any tought options. Muscular forward Marko Tusek will share some minutes with Nikola Radulovic at PF position, and maybe sliding at center to speed up the tempo with smaller 5s.
He has a great chance to play again as a protagonist and give his international experience to a team which has ambitions but lacks more than something in that aspect.
Plus, Zare will rely on two true centers like rising prospect Eric Williams (third season in a row in Italy, second in Avellino) and Italian NT pivot Andrea Crosariol, who played very well for coach Markovski while in Bologna.
German native Williams has a very strong body and great feet quickness, but had weight problems during the summer (20 kg overweight at the beginning of the training camp) and will have to grew up quickly in his weak points (foul troubles overall) to manage 3 games per week.
Crosariol never had his chance when in Rome last season, and never showed his tenacity during his career excepted with Markovski in Bologna.
This 7-footer has great athleticism and timing for defensive rebounds and blocks, and he really should be the man for Italian National team in the paint for the next years.
Nikola Radulovic is one of the only three guys which stayed in the team from last season (with Williams ans Swiss shooter Peter Lisicky, who will stay as a bench played and probably never have many minutes). This guy definitely knows how to play the ball: he can drive, he can shoot, he can handle the ball even in open court, but lacks power and toughness. He has NT experience with Italy and he should decide some games in Euroleague if he will be effective in spite of the physical gap.
Being forced to play with Porta as the starting point, Avellino will only have Daniele Cinciarini as an important player from the bench for the perimeter play.
“Cincia” starred in Legadue with Fabriano some years ago, but had a good last season with Biella (9.1 ppg in 20.1 mins, 39.4% on 3pts) and Markovski will ask him to be effective as a scorer replacing Slay or Warren.
Youngsters Sakellariou and homemade Paolisso will complete the roster: the Italian forward was the leading scorer of U18 team in last European Championship, finishing in double figure all of 8 games played and averaging 12.0 plus 4.3 rbs and 65.4% on 2pts in 20.1 minutes.
4 WARREN CHRIS USA Forward 1.96 1981
5 RADULOVIC, NIKOLA Croatia Forward 2.07 1973
6 PORTA, ANTONIO Argentina Guard 1.88 1983
9 SAKELLARIOU, EVANGELOS Greece Guard 1.91 1989
10 CINCIARINI, DANIELE Italy Guard 1.94 1983
11 CROSARIOL, ANDREA Italy Center 2.12 1984
12 LISICKY, PETER USA Guard 1.92 1976
14 PAOLISSO, PASQUALE Italy Forward 2.03 1990
15 SLAY, TAMAR USA Forward 2.04 1980
17 TUSEK, MARKO Slovenia Forward 2.03 1975
20 WILLIAMS, ERIC Germany Center 2.06 1984
Avellino signed Travis Bes and Drake Dienert after Pietro sent in his article – so Travis and Drake are on the team.
Euroleague winner: CSKA Moscow
written by Pietro Scibetta