“Good things come in small packages”: this idiom perfectly suits Morabanc Andorra. As a matter of fact, despite its small size, when we refer to the State’s basketball team we tend to think big. Andorra has a population of only 85,000, it is a microstate perched in the Eastern Pyrenees, between Spain and France. However, in recent years it has proved to have a sporting excellence: its own basketball team.
After accessing the Spanish domestic series in the 1981-1982 season, the Bàsquet Club Andorra achieved promotion to Liga ACB in 2014 and, since then, each year it has been setting itself more ambitious objectives. The season that ended in June was the best in the club’s short history: it was, however, a little wrong-footed because of its European debut in the EuroCup (in which it was eliminated at the end of the regular season with a record of 3 wins and 7 defeats), but despite failing in the International competition, Andorra did well in the domestic championship, being ranked sixth at the end of the regular season, following a successful second round with 11 wins in 17 games.
Even if this success finished in the first round of the playoffs against Barcelona, this is still a season to remember. Resting on their laurels, however, is not a characteristic of the Basque people: that is why the main objective for the new season is to improve upon last year’s already excellent performance, that is in trying to achieve a few more victories in the EuroCup and qualifying for the Liga ACB playoffs again.
After a summer characterized by a lot of team changes, we will see a brand new roster, both on the playing field and on the bench. After the departure of the main protagonists, Jaka Blazic and Jaime Fernandez (who together scored an average of 26.8 points per game), the guards section has been completely renewed under the guidance of the new coach, Ibon Navarro, with the acquisition of point guards Rafa Luz, Dylan Ennis and, especially, Michele Vitali. The latter is quite well-known in Brescia, where he used to play, and, owing to a twist of fate, he will be playing against his former team in the first match. It is important to mention that the two centers, Oliver Stevic and Moussa Diagne (born in 1994 in Senegal, 2.11 m tall), have both been confirmed for the new season. To complete the low post players section, there will be two new players: Shayne Whittington and, especially, Reggie Upshaw Jr.
A team with great ideas needs a dynamic and ambitious coach: this is why Andorra has chosen Ibon Navarro. Being a Basque coach with a degree in chemistry, Navarro has always preferred the coach’s white board to the periodic table. His career has been mostly connected to the Baskonia team, with whom he won two Spanish titles as an assistant coach, before becoming the head coach in 2014 -after Sergio Scariolo, and then Marco Crespi, had resigned. After leaving Vitoria in 2015, following 15 years of success, during which a documentary dedicated to him was produced, Navarro settled in Manresa and then moved to Murcia, where last season, he participated in the Basketball Champions League Final 4, losing in the
semifinals to the future champions, AEK Athens. In the end, his team managed third place, after defeating the German team, Ludwigsburg.
Poliesportiu d’Andorra will be host to the first European away match for Germani Brescia Leonessa’s in their history. It is a multi-purpose arena commonly known as ‘Poliesportiu de Govern’. In 2014 it was expanded in order to host the Spanish top basketball league, which requires arenas to have a minimum seating capacity of 5,000. In the stands, sometimes it is possible to spot Joachim ‘Purito’ Rodriguez, a former Spanish cyclist who is now one of the most famous supporters of the Pyrenean club.