Staying out of F4 marked the end of Sergio García’s cycle at Riazor, but a sustainable project in continuous growth (structural, economic and social) was not going to stop. Without undertaking crazy things that would put the project at risk, the oranges have been forming a team that seems to honor that word, “team”, with which to ask “why not dream?”.
The first stone was the new tenant on the bench: Diego Epifanio ‘Epi’, who arrives from Movistar Estudiantes. A young but methodical coach with extensive experience and two promotions behind him. From then on, the team has changed almost completely, since only three players remain, and all of them offer reliability: Álex Hernández (he does it in the direction and it will be necessary to see how his recovery progresses), Atoumane Diagne (a player with a who showed last season that he is in top form, contributing centimeters and quality in the low post; with a lot of ‘five’ topthis course can be decisive) and the captain Javi Vega (who knows how to lead the group, opens the track and undoubtedly demonstrates his quality).
They are joined by several signings who already know the LEB Oro. Will Olle Lundqvist break this course? The Swede has enormous quality but he must definitively leave injuries and irregularity behind. Aleix Font offers more reliability, who will once again exhibit his wrist in the category and, if he is given the confidence he needs, he will come out, in a case similar to Álex Galán, who with his versatility and claw is a signing gentleman in the painting.
Finally, there are three bets that Spain does not know, but are valuable for their international prestige and can give a lot to the team. We will talk about each of these three signings in detail:
Croatia / 1996 / 180cm
Nothing less than a Croatian international, and with minutes. Trained in the legendary Split academy, from a very young age he had prominence and minutes, between 13/14 and 17/18 (10.4 pt, 4.1 ace), in what was his last year before being signed by the Bosnian Široki. There he spent two seasons standing out and being one of the best assistants in the competition, as happened in 19/20 in the Adriatic League Division 2 (12.5 pt, 5.6 ace). In the 20/21 academic year he jumped to Romania, to CSU Craiova, where he had another solvent campaign (13.0 pt, 3.5 ace). In a somewhat strange way, he returned to Croatia, to Cedevita Júnior, together with the young Croatian promises and contrasted players among whom he was (30 mi, 13.3 pt, 5.4 ace, 1.4 ro and good shooting percentages: 54% T2, 43% T3, 82% TL).
A player that I liked from the beginning in Split for his self-confidence and leadership, although his career may not have evolved as expected. Base with character, high IQ, with an excellent handling of the ball and a very good blocking and continuation game for both sides, with a privileged head to assist and control of all distances for the launch or to penetrate. Yes, sometimes he forces actions too much, which leads him to have unnecessary losses, together with a physique that has distanced him from the great elite.
He is clearly not a defensive bulldog and can suffer in Gold against physical or very vertical players, although he is ready to steal; he must raise his performance back, something he can do if he stays focused. Other key factors are that he must win regularly and his adaptation to a league as demanding at a tactical level as the LEB Oro, even more so after his year in Croatia, where there is a lower point of intensity and demand than in the Spanish competition. .
Pending the recovery of Álex Hernández, with the Croatian international, Leyma Coruña wins a point guard who will offer clairvoyance and a lot of game distribution; capable of making the team run, in static he will offer many solutions for his game of P&R or good outside shot. If he manages to adapt to the level of demand and to Spain, he can give a lot of ground.
USA-Cuba / 1993 / 196 cm
The American of Cuban origin is a player that I have always liked and who has a solid professional career. He stood out in NCAA-DII, in Barry (24.4 pt, 9.3 re) the already distant 15/16. His professional debut was in Belgium (Okapi) on 16/17, making a good season (11.9 pt, 3.6 re) that drew attention in France. Specifically, the ProB’s Denain took notice of him (12.8 pt, 3.0 re). From there he was recruited by Nancy, who signed him for two seasons, exhibiting a good level. 20/21 did not start from the start, but Evreux recruited him due to Ahmed’s loss and he returned to perform solidly (15.9 pt, 3.9 re). Last season he changed course and went to the second division of Israel, where he stood out and in what way in Maccabi Ashdod (34 mi, 21.7 pt, 7.8 re, 2.8 ace), finishing the season again in the ProB, with four matches in Lille (11.0 pt, 5.8 d). Now, without a doubt, he arrives as the star signing from A Coruña.
He is a powerful ‘three’ with an excellent upper body that helps him make up for his lack of centimeters in the position, also having an excellent ability to shoot threes. Both coming off screens and standing still, Barrueta can score with high efficiency from either side of the 3-point line, with a release very fast. He is also very good in transition (a trailer) and knows how to post physically inferior opponents, which works very well with a fade away very characteristic. He may not be an excessive ball handler or a 1 on 1 player, but he knows how to tackle with power and finish close to the rim.
Nor is he a defensive specialist as such, knowing how to withstand the attacks of his pair, although he may lack some laterality and reading. He can help on the rebound due to his good physique.
With Barrueta, the Herculean team ensures a level player and an excellent three-point shooter, but with more virtues. Accustomed to having minutes, he can carry the weight of the team and it seems that he will be an important player in Gold and that with a good adaptation he can make a difference.
Serbia / 1995 / 200 cm
The combo forward Serbian is a player who has been in clear progression after going through several teams in his country. Trained through the Mega Vizura ranks, he had his senior debut on 13/14 in Smeredevo (5.6 pt, 3.0 re), from where he returned to Mega Leks, remaining between 2014 and 2017 in a supporting role. On 17/18 he went to KK Vrsac, standing out in the Adriatic League Division 2 (14.8 pt, 6.6 re) and finishing that course at FMP Beograd. The following season he went to OKK Beograd, where he did well again (13.9 pt, 5.7 re), which made the Bosnian Igokea sign him for 19/20 (not too confident in the Aba League -3.1 pt, 2.2 re -, his numbers were better in the Bosnian league). The 20/21 fell a step, starting the season in the Serbian Napredak, where he left (22.2 pt, 7.5 re), in such a way that in February he was recruited by the Bosnian Borac Banja Luka (10.8 pt, 5.2 re).
Last season meant his leap: he finally left the Balkans and arrived in no less than the French ProB, being signed by Rouen, where he replaced the injured Ben Emelogu. With Brandon Edwards (ex-Gold) and Philmore on the inside, he was a regular top three, also having minutes in the zone (19 pa, 25 mi, 9.3 pt, 5.3 re, 2.1 ace, 1.5 ro).
With Barrueta in the team, the Serbian will offer physique and versatility, being a player who progressively improves over time, currently reaching a moment of optimal maturity. Capable of playing inside if required due to script needs, we are facing a tall ‘three’ with a good physique, powerful, difficult to stop when he faces the hoop, of great help in rebounding and with other good virtues, such as his ability to reading the game or playing without the ball and, above all, to take advantage of his physical superiority in the post with good movements and the effectiveness of his game with his back to the rim. In addition, he is a tough player at the back, offering solidity to his team. Over time he has been progressing his outside shooting, being able to score threes from standing still (still inconsistent: 28% T3). He, too, is not an excellent free throw shooter.
This is a player who in the current squad will bring physicality, versatility, rebounding, defensive solidity and the ability to face the hoop or be effective in the post. Without a doubt, a good reinforcement for the Galician team, which is organizing a very balanced team, with many variants and which, as we said in the introduction, may be a candidate to surprise the theoretical favorites.