For today’s preview on Partizan Belgrade, we asked our fervent reader, good friend and Partizan fan Stevan Veljovic to give his predictions. And he delivered us a more than great analysis of the current situation of the Serbian team. So enjoy.
Overall record prediction: 5-5
When we talk about Partizan Belgrade the first words may go something like this: “Partizan, yeah, great fans… no wait, really bigtime fans. With fans like this, they may be able to surprise this season again. Hmm, but they lost their best players, I am not sure. Eventually this time, Partizan is going to finish at the bottom.”
Well, I am sure 90% of you are having the same thoughts regarding Partizan’s Euroleage prospects this season. They come by no surprise and I experience them as a déjà vu. Since I do not possess Bobby Knight’s special techniques, I will deal with this topic in a more appropriate manner and gather and examine the facts that can be key in predicting Partizan’s EL achievement this season.
Recapitulating the transfer period, we cannot minimize the effect that the departures of three starting five players, namely Palacio, Kecman and Pekovic, will have on Partizan’s game. One of the most dominant Centers in the EL and his very solid teammate Kecman, who were accountable for Partizan’s rebound dominance (37 rpg, 1. in EL), switched the black and white jersey for Panathinaikos’ green one, as did the other major contributor and established leader; Milt Palacio followed the mercenary movement to Russia and signed for BC Khimky, although he stated, that he enjoyed every moment he spent in Belgrade.
The shattering truth of the ongoing tide in the cash box every other Balkan club shares, forced Partizan to stay quiet on the transfer market till the big players of European basketball finished their business to finally sign Ex-NBA player Stephane Lasme.
In my opinion he should NOT be considered as a Pekovic replacement, but together with Zarko Rakocevic aka ‘the Rock’ and the young Jan Vesely, should be treated as a part of a new game plan Dr. Vujosevic will develop this season.
Speaking of the game plan, it is obvious that the last years very effective ‘In & Out’ game cannot be established this season because of the lack of a dominant inside force. To exploit the strengths of the new poly-valent reinforcements, Partizan will play a high tempo offensive ball, combined with a iron curtain defense, since Rakocevic and Lasme are known as very athletic players and defensive stoppers.
Adding to this froncourt Aleksandar Rasic from Dynamo Moscow and the by now one year older TNT (Tripkovic, Novica Velickovic, Tepic) core, which I consider Partizan’s biggest reinforcement, we end up having the strongest defensive team in Partizan’s history. Sounds too huge? Well, it is an adventurous statement, but the very good coach, already known for his defensophile playing style has the fans backing and is looking to fulfill their expectations. After we spoke about the main changes in the roster, lets take a glimpse at the possible starting five:
PF 2 Lasme
or should it look like this:
Nobody can give us a definite answer regarding the starting five or the rotation. The simple cause is, that the team has been completed on 29th of September and has not played one single match with the complete roster. In the absence of Lasme and the Serbian NT trio (Tepic, Tripkovic and Velickovic were main players for Serbia in the EC qualification.), Rakocevic, Rasic and Vitkovac stood out.
So a lot of sisyphos-work still is up to Vujosevic and his staff and I hope that this time he can roll the stone to the top. The, for the defense, so essential teamwork has to be built over night and it also remains a question who will step up in the offense and rise to become a leader for the very young team.
Velickovic showed some promising characteristics and stats during the national team campaign. Expect him to take over on the offensive end, although Partizan’s great strenght could be a balanced roster.
Hopes aside, the Top 16 Phase is the limit for Partizan this year but should nevertheless be considered a major achievement.
The picture in group D will be dominated by CSKA followed by Real and Efes Pilsen. The hard-fought for fourth place will be taken by Partizan leaving Milano and Panionios at the bottom.
CSKA Moscow should be considered the absolute favourite for the crown and can get contested only by TAU Ceramica.
Final Four participants: CSKA, Efes Pilsen, Olympiacos, Tau Ceramica
Euroleague winner: CSKA Moscow
written by Stevan Veljovic