One exciting new face in Vitoria-Gasteiz is point guard Pierria Henry, an All-EuroCup Second Team selection last season with UNICS Kazan thanks to a brilliant season in which he ranked among the EuroCup's top 10 in assists and steals and averaged 10.4 points per game. After losing two important big men, Baskonia also looked inside and picked up powerful Michael Eric from Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul, a key tool on the team that won the 2018 EuroCup. Late in the summer, the team also signed Italian veteran Achille Polonara to reinforce the paint. The last new face for the new season is that of guard Nik Stauskas, who arrives directly from the NBA.
The Baskonia backcourt will lean on a pair of newcomers who should give the team new flavor. Henry is a guard who knows how to share the ball and also excels on defense. Stauskas is a sharpshooter with plenty of NBA experience who will be making his European debut with Baskonia. These two players have the support of team veterans like Jayson Granger, who hopes to stay healthy this season after a nightmarish 2018-19, Luca Vildoza and Matt Janning, completing the five players who can cover the guard positions. Moving to the wings, Shavon Shields was one of the most active players on the team last season, starting in 30 of his 33 games and averaging 9.8 points. Patricio Garino will be his partner, coming from a solid appearance at the World Cup with Argentina and also hoping to try to avoid injuries that held him to just 18 appearances last season.
Baskonia saw two of its most important players leave in the summer, but the team will have more than enough tools inside to aspire to anything. At the forefront is Toko Shengelia, the team's biggest star and a fan favorite who has almost become a synonym with Baskonia, but not immune to injuries like the one that caused him to miss the second half of the 2018-19 regular season. By his side, Shengelia will have the new blood and intensity brought in by Eric, who averaged 11.1 points and 5.0 rebounds in 29 games last season. A talent raised and formed in Vitoria, Ilimiane Diop, will always be a reliable backup who can step up at any given game, and Polonara will return to the big European stages to make his debut in the EuroLeague after shining in his native Italy for some years now. Youngsters Youssoupha Fall and Adjin Penava will wait for their chance on the sidelines with the quality seal of the Baskonia scouting system.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Pierria Henry is a player who has evolved season after season, especially in the 7DAYS EuroCup, and now he's ready to make his EuroLeague debut with Baskonia. He had a promising EuroCup debut in 2015 with ratiopharm Ulm and he caught everyone's eye in 2017-18 with Tofas Bursa. Last season he joined UNICS Kazan and had a brilliant campaign; he was the EuroCup's Regular Season MVP and then made the All-EuroCup Second Team. Henry is a guard who can share the ball and at the same time play excellent defense. He was among the top 10 in several categories last season in the EuroCup: index rating (eighth), assists (second), steals (fifth), fouls drawn (ninth) and assist-to-turnover ratio (ninth). Coach Velimir Perasovic has trusted him the reins of the new-look Baskonia and Henry appears up to the task.
Last season Baskonia saw how the chance to play a Final Four in its city slipped through its hands. Then the team lost key players Johannes Voigtmann and Vincent Poirier, but Baskonia is a team that always stands up and seems to get new names out of the blue who lift the team to new heights. And this season will be no exception. The new guys will have to gel quickly because the road will be longer than ever this season and Coach Perasovic will need everyone to chip in and contribute to the team effort that always characterizes Baskonia. It will be a matter of seeing if the new signings have been successful and, of course, it would also help if injuries cut Baskonia some slack this season to get the full group working together as much as possible.