With the new Euroleague season nearing, BallinEurope is once more break down each of the teams individually on 16 consecutive days in the run up to tip off. As with last season, we’re going in reverse order from the opening round of games. Today it’s Barcelona’s turn as we look at what’s in store for Adam Hanga. He was a beast for Baskonia, a hero for Hungary, but after a mad summer, what’s next for the defensive dynamo?
For a large chunk of the back end of last season it seemed certain that Adam Hanga was leaving Europe. By mid-summer, it seemed like it would be difficult for him to even leave Baskonia. The Hungarian was expecting to make the jump to the NBA and join the San Antonio Spurs, who hold his draft rights, but that move falling through was only the beginning of the nonsense.
Then came the protracted negotiations to see if he’d actually be able to move from Baskonia to Barcelona. The journey east was delayed because of money, naturally, with Hanga eventually dipping into his own pocket before heading off to join his compatriots on the Hungary team at EuroBasket 2017. That part actually worked out well for him. His side recorded its first win at EuroBasket since 1969 and then added a second the following day to book a spot in the last 16. Finally, some good news for Hanga. Now that adventure is in the books he’s got a new job alongside a familiar face.
Hanga’s Baskonia coach from last season, Sito Alonso, is joining him in Barcelona and the pressure in on both of them. Hanga beating Ekpe Udoh to the Euroleague defensive player of the year award raised more than a few eyebrows, although given the years Bryant Dunston won maybe folks took that one a little too much to heart. He will, unquestionably, bring more on D for Barca and make this side far more athletic. That gives Hanga a real opportunity this season, to make a mark in what he hopes is his final year in Euroleague.
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Coach: Sito Alonso
Arena: Palau Blaugrana, 7,585
Last season in Euroleague: 12-18, 11th
Last season in ACB: 23-9, lost semi finals to Valencia
Who’s new? Marc Garcia (Real Betis), Adam Hanga (Baskonia), Thomas Heurtel (Anadolu Efes), Adrien Moerman (Darussafaka), Pierre Oriola (Valencia), Phil Pressey (Santa Cruz Warriors), Rakim Sanders (Olimpia Milano), Kevin Seraphin (Indiana Pacers)
Who’s gone? Moussa Diagne (Andorra), Shane Lawal (Avellino), Alex Renfroe (Galatasaray), Marcus Eriksson (Gran Canaria), Vitor Faverani (Murcia), Brad Oleson (Murcia), Justin Doellman (free agent), Xavier Munford (free agent), Stratos Perperoglu (free agent), Luka Samanic (free agent)
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Last season was, Barca hopes, the culmination of a three season slide. The Blaugrana scared nobody, suffered some historical beatings, and didn’t look like any approximation of a team that belonged at this level. Injuries certainly played their part but the slide for Barca across the board simply doesn’t go with what this club is supposed to be. The changes to the roster pointed to a desire from the front office to end the stodginess. Heurtel is a risk but even that move point to a side that wants to get faster and stronger in all areas.
The adjustment, with so many key parts being new, won’t be easy nor will the questions over the role of Juan Carlos Navarro. Is this his final year and, if so, what can he actually offer? Tough calls are going to need to be made. On the whole this still looks like a far more watchable side than the one that disappointed a year ago. It will likely be a better one too.
Fearless prediction: 7th. While I don’t see Barcelona making it to Belgrade, this season should present a significant step up in the Blaugrana’s fortunes. If not, well I wouldn’t want to be Sito Alonso…actually, no, I would as I imagine his buyout is lovely.
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