Transfer watch: International champs unite in UCAM Murcia's jersey
MIES (Switzerland) - UCAM Murcia are back in the BCL, and looking for a strong run that could get them back to the Final Four. They kept their core together, and added players who know how to win major international trophies.
Sito Alonso is back as their coach, entering his fourth successive season with the club. He also coached Joventut, Gipuzkoa, Bilbao, Baskonia and Barcelona in Spain, while his only experience abroad was in Croatia, coaching Cedevita Zagreb back in 2018.
Compared to last season, the core is still there. Sadiel Rojas as the team captain, Jordan Davis as the explosive scorer, Tomas Bellas and Nemanja Radovic as important role players, and Thad McFadden, as the man with the know-how of winning the BCL. McFadden did it twice with Hereda San Pablo Burgos, winning the BCL Final Eight MVP trophy back in 2020.
He is joined by another international back-to-back champion. James Anderson picked up a pair of EuroLeague titles with Anadolu Efes, and at 33, he is entering his first season in Spain. Other than his time in Istanbul, he is most notable for his Zalgiris days, which saw him win the double in Lithuania in 2015 and book an NBA contract with the Sacramento Kings the following season.
Anderson played just under 250 NBA games for the Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Philadephia 76ers. With Philadelphia, he had his best scoring NBA season, getting 10.1 points per game in 2013-14.
🏀 Anadolu Efes, James Anderson ile yolların ayrıldığını açıkladı.pic.twitter.com/L2geA10FI3— AA SPOR (@aa_spor) June 17, 2022
Keeping the trophy winning vibes going, Travis Trice arrives as the best player in Poland in 2021-22. The point guard led Slask Wroclaw to the championship, while winning both the Season MVP and the Finals MVP trophies, and being selected to the Team of the Season of the Polish League.
Trice is a 29-year-old with loads of experience. He graduated from Michigan State, then played all over the world - USA, Australia, Lebanon, Turkey, France, Italy and Poland. Same as with James Anderson, this would be his first season in the Spanish Liga Endesa.
UCAM Murcia will have a pair of Spanish League winning centers in the middle. Ilimane Diop won the Liga Endesa with Baskonia in 2020, and he spent the first ten years of his career over there, before moving to Gran Canaria last season. At 27, the seven-footer is still the same threat above the rim on both sides of the court.
Artem Pustovyi won the ACB in 2021, with Barcelona. He also played for Gran Canaria last season, and at 2.18m/7'2'' he is a legit candidate to be the tallest player in the BCL next season. The Ukrainian center also played for Khimik and Obradoiro before his three-year long stint with Barcelona.
Another man who lifted trophies is Jordan Sakho. He saw limited minutes in Hereda San Pablo Burgos' back-to-back titles in 2020 and 2021, and he also lifted the FIBA Intercontinental Cup in 2021. Sakho is a big body under the basket, at 25 years of age, he still has a lot of basketball in front of him.
Ryan Luther will be in charge of the power forward position. The 26-year-old will turn 27 just before the Regular Season starts, and he enjoyed a five year long college career with the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Arizona Wildcats.
He started his European career in Latvia, getting 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for Ventspils in 2019-20. Ryan then found home in Turkey, playing for Darussafaka and Gaziantep, while averaging similar numbers and constantly shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc.
David Jelinek will also do a lot of shooting for UCAM Murcia. The 31-year-old Czech guard came to Spain as a 17-year-old when he signed with Joventut Badalona, and after short spells in Turkey, Russia and Poland, he came back to Liga Endesa in 2016.
Jelinek spent the last six seasons with MoraBanc Andorra, averaging between 8.4 and 10.1 points in each of those six years, getting a shooting percentage of 44.6 from beyond the arc back in 2017-18.