Transfer watch: Two of BCL's top scorers arrive in Manresa
MIES (Switzerland) - Last season, BAXI Manresa were one of the most fun teams to watch in all of Europe. They are going through major roster changes, but the new arrivals make it look like Manresa will score a lot, again.
Coach Pedro Martinez had a 2022 to remember. He made the Basketball Champions League Final, he won the BCL Coach of the Year award, then renewed his contract with his hometown team Manresa, and his players are the hottest ones on the summer market.
BCL MVP Chima Moneke signed a contract with the Sacramento Kings. Joe Thomasson left for Zenit St. Petersburg, Ismael Bako reached a deal with the 2019 BCL champions Virtus Bologna, and Yankuba Sima is Umana Reyer Venezia's new player.
Luke Maye is now with Granada in Spain, and Rafa Martinez decided to retire at the end of the 2021-22 season.
But, Manresa still put together a mighty looking squad for 2022-23. Babatunde Olumuyiwa, Jerrick Harding, Brancou Badio, Giordano Bortolani, Marcus Lee and Tyson Perez all arrived in Manresa.
Jerrick Harding is the combo guard we got to know with his two seasons in ERA Nymburk. He averaged 20.8 points per game in the Regular Season last time around, and he had a number of ways of scoring with his lefty shooting stroke.
In fact, Harding is Weber State University's all time leading scorer, ahead of guys like Damian Lillard and Jeremy Senglin, so he knows how to score the ball no matter what the competition name is. Look for 24-year-old Harding to have a similar role to Joe Thomasson's, making decisions with the ball in his hands.
Jerrick Harding is a BUCKET. Dropped 28 points in 25min yesterday. Been cooking in @basketballcl. One of the best young talents in Europe and is going to have a great career pic.twitter.com/5AK6r6jREc— Swish Cultures (@swishcultures_) March 10, 2021
Along with Harding, BAXI Manresa should get a lot of points from last season's Round of 16 top scorer. Giordano Bortolani averaged 20.0 points in those six games, including a couple of them against Manresa, en route to winning the Best Young Player award.
The Italian guard is 21, and a season in Treviso proved he can lead the team in international competition. Expect him to become the fan favorite in Spain, they have a soft spot for high scoring, high flying, confident shooting guards over there.
👀 ¡Llega a la #LigaEndesa... 𝐆𝐢𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐨 𝐁𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐢!— Liga Endesa (@ACBCOM) July 28, 2022
➡️ Escolta de 1'93
➡️ Defenderá la camiseta de BAXI @BasquetManresa
➡️ Cedido por el @OlimpiaMI1936
📹 @BasketballCL pic.twitter.com/iD5w43EFTB
The biggest hole compared to the last season is in the frontcourt. Marcis Steinbergs is the only returning power forward or center, and it is to be expected from Manresa to add another player in the middle in August.
Babatunde Olumuyiwa is the 30-year-old center who came from MoraBanc Andorra. He had a steady growth in his career, after a solid NCAA career with USC Upstate Spartans, he spent four seasons in the Second Division in Spain, and even one in the Third Division.
He finally got a taste of Liga Endesa in 2020, and now he will play the BCL for the first time. He is a dunker and a blocker, there is not much to add to that.
Marcus Lee is three years younger than Olumuyiwa, and the description remains the same. Big guy, big body, dunking, blocking, done all over the world. Lee spent three years with the Kentucky Wildcats, and another with the California Golden Bears before turning pro in 2018.
A couple of seasons with Sioux Falls Skyforce established him as a double-double threat in the NBA G League, and he first arrived in Europe in 2020, signing with Vanoli Cremona in Italy.
He started the 2021-22 campaign with Yalova in Turkey and ended it in Puerto Rico with Leones de Ponce. During his college career, Lee played with notable NBA players such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Julius Randle, Trey Lyles and others.
Brancou Badio is also a new player when it comes to BCL, but in reality, he is back with BAXI Manresa for another season. He joined them right after the Final Four in Bilbao last May, now he is set to make his BCL debut for the team.
A native of Senegal, Badio is a 23-year-old guard who went through Canarias Basketball Academy and then moved to Barcelona. He struggled to get first team minutes, but a move to Germany saw him get 10.6 points and 2.9 assists per game across 22 games.
Brancou played for Senegal at the FIBA AfroBasket 2021, putting together impressive numbers of 15.8 points, 5.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game for his national team.
Brancou Badio's debut with the Senegalese jersey was nothing short of impressive, racking up 17 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals for the Lions. South Sudan up next at the @AfroBasket! 🇸🇳 pic.twitter.com/3cpDHdiujR— FIBA (@FIBA) August 27, 2021
On August 10, Manresa announced the arrival of Tyson Perez. The power forward who can play as a center too is 26, stands at 2.02m/6'8'' and has two seasons of Liga Endesa experience behind him, wearing the MoraBanc Andorra jersey.
Perez averaged 5.6 points and 5.1 rebounds as a rookie in Spain, and backed it up with 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds last season. He also represented Spain in the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers, posting 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games against Israel and Romania.
Manresa will play in Group F with VEF Riga, Limoges CSP and a winner of one of the Qualifying Rounds.