Transfer watch: Defending champs adding familiar faces
MIES (Switzerland) - Lenovo Tenerife won the Basketball Champions League last time around. Now they are back for more success, adding new players over the summer to improve their chances of winning the BCL for the third time.
Coach Txus Vidorreta enters August with four new players compared to last season. An important notice on that one - Coach Vidorreta extended his contract for two more years, too, he will stay at the helm of Tenerife until 2024.
The five new guys so far are Ivan Cruz, Elgin Cook, Tim Abromaitis, Jaime Fernandez and Moussa Diagne.
Compared to last season, Dejan Todorovic, Emir Sulejmanovic, Tobias Borg and Sean Smith are no longer with Lenovo Tenerife. Kyle Wiltjer's status is still unofficial as of August 1.
Ivan Cruz is the new name in the BCL. The 30-year-old Spaniard is 2.08m/6'10'' tall, can cover the inside positions, and has spent the last two seasons with Rio Breogan, averaging 6.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in the Liga Endesa last season.
Cruz went through a couple of seasons in the NCAA, too, playing for the Miami Hurricanes, before going back home to Breogan, Real Betis and Surne Bilbao.
Jaime Fernandez is arguably the biggest arrival to the island this summer. The Spanish national team player turned 29 in June, and judging by his career so far, it feels like he will celebrate a lot of birthdays in San Cristobal de La Laguna.
Fernandez is a point guard who can create both for himself and for his teammates, and he started his professional career way back in 2010 with Movistar Estudiantes. He stayed in Madrid for seven years, then had a season in Andorra before settling with Unicaja, averaging around 10 points and 4 assists in each of the last four campaigns.
He is now reunited with coach Vidorreta, they worked together in Estudiantes from 2012 to 2015. In fact, Txus was the one who gave a young Fernandez more minutes and responsibilities on the court early in his career.
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Fernandez will also be reunited with Tim Abromaitis. The forward had already played four very successful seasons with Lenovo Tenerife from 2015 to 2019, winning the BCL in 2017, and at 32, he is back for more.
Abromaitis is just eight rebounds away from taking the all-time lead in rebounds in the Basketball Champions League, and since leaving Tenerife in 2019, he has played for Zenit St. Petersburg and Unicaja. He was Mr Consistency in Malaga, 9 points and 4 rebounds per game over the last two seasons, getting 44.2 percent of his three-pointers to drop in 2021-22.
Elgin Cook also joined Lenovo Tenerife. Another 29-year-old, Cook covers the forward positions, and also knows what it's like to play at a BCL Final Four - he did it with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg back in 2018.
Athletically gifted, Elgin will be dunking all over the continent in black-and-yellow again, this time with the defending champs. He had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game for Tofas Bursa in the Turkish League last season, while hitting 47.1 percent of his threes.
He also played for the Oregon Ducks, Santa Cruz Warriors in the United States, Cedevita Zagreb in Croatia, Avtodor Saratov in Russia, and Fethiye in Turkey.
On August 2, Tenerife announced the arrival of Moussa Diagne. The 28-year-old Senegalese center with endless wingspan comes from MoraBanc Andorra, where he had spent the last four seasons. Previously, he played for Fuenlabrada and Barcelona in a pro career that is already ten years long.
Diagne had his best campaign in 2019-20, getting 11.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He missed the entire 2020-21 season with a back injury, and came back last season, getting 14 minutes per game in 31 appearance. Tenerife will use his ability to shoot from deep to spread the floor, and count on him to play above the rim on both sides of the court.
Tenerife will in Regular Season Group H, alongside Rytas Vilnius, Peristeri and Bnei Herzliya.