Partizan is the revelation of the season in the EuroLeague

If back-to-back champion Efes is the disappointment of the current Euroleague season failing to qualify for the playoffs, the 6th place of the Serbs from Partizan Belgrade was a miracle. A team rated at the beginning of the season with little chances behind teams like Armani Milan, Virtus Bologna and even the big rivals from Crvena Zvezda.

The return after 8 years in the Euroleague is expected to be difficult, in a Euroleague season with an enormous number of NBA-level players and probably the most interesting season so far. The beginning of the season was catastrophic for a team coached by Obradovic, with 2 defeats in which they received at least 100 points, with Alba Berlin and Cazoo Baskonia. In the 3rd round came the 3rd defeat in a row against Milan, but followed by 3 victories over Virtus Bologna, Zalgiris and Panathinaikos. In the 7th round, they managed to score only 58 points against Olympiakos but immediately followed the home victory against Maccabi 96-88. In rounds 9-11, there were 3 defeats against teams from Spain: Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid and Valencia and the next 2 defeats against ASVEL and Crvena Zvezda were more painful, probably the turning point of the season. What came next? 4 victories, one against Bayern and another 3 against much better-rated teams: Anadolu Efes, Fenerbahce and Monaco. In the 18th round came the revenge of Maccabi, then the victory at home with Cazoo and the defeat at Valencia. The 21st round brought the return from the Serbian derby, with Partizan managing to win on the field of Crvena Zvezda dramatically 79-78. This victory added 3 more victories: ASVEL, Zalgiris and Bayern. The series was interrupted in the 25th round by Fenerbahce. After 2 victories with Alba Berlin and Virtus, came the defeat in the 28th round with Armani Milan and the end of the season was going to be extremely difficult. But they managed 5 big victories with Efes, Olympiakos, Real Madrid, Monaco and Panathinaikos and only one defeat with Barcelona. All for a 6th place at the end of the season, with averages of 85.2 points, 29.9 rebounds and 14.5 assists.

The team’s success is due to an accumulation of positive factors. To the coach, Zeljko Obradovic, the legendary coach winner of nine EuroLeague titles with five different clubs. To the extraordinary season made by their Americans: Kevin Punter (15.5 ppg), Dante Exum (13.3 ppg), Zach LeDay (10.9 ppg, 5.1 reb), James Nunnally (9.3 ppg). To Mathias Lessort (12.1 ppg, 7.3 reb), a real defensive wall and a very good 2-point player (69%). To the 4 young talents Yam Madar (5.7 ppg), Alen Smailagic (5.0 ppg), Uros Trifunovic and Tristan Vukcevic. To the man who has grown enormously since coming to Partizan under Obradovic and maybe the secret key to eventual success in the playoffs, Aleksa Avramovic. To the experience of players like Ioannis Papapetrou and Danilo Andjusic, who helped the team enormously. And probably the most important factor is the 20,000 fans present at every match at Stark Arena which creates a unique atmosphere in the world of European basketball. Names such as Novak Djokovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic were present at some of the Partizan matches.

All this means that Real Madrid will face a not-easy opponent and the Serbians will definitely, especially in the home matches will sell their skin dearly.

Valentin Petruta

Photo credit: EuroLeague