The teams at the Final 4: KS Teuta
It′s hardly to dream of a better first season in the Balkan League that the one KS Teuta had until now. The Albanian side made its debut in the competition last October and managed to perform well enough to reach SIGAL UNIQA Balkan League Final Four after recording 8 wins and 4 defeats to finish in fourth place. The F4 be held next weekend in Tirana which is less than 40 km away from the city of Durres. This means that the team will pretty much feel at home when the F4 starts.
Teuta will have a very tough task in the semifinal as the team is about to meet the Regular season winner BC Beroe. Last time when they met in Durres, the local side managed to perhaps get its most impressive win after getting an 87-85 edge in an interesting contest. That for sure will give the team a self believe that they can do well against Beroe but the match in the F4 will be different.
After losing Eric Copes in February, KS Teuta relies on their two other stars - Endrit Hysenagolli and CJ Wilson. The American point guard is one of the top scorers in the competition with his 19.4 points while the Albanian center is one of the most productive players averaging 18.2 points and 11.2 rebounds. Both of them have taken part in all 12 games so far and have been the key for the team′s success. Teuta′s game pretty much starts with Wilson and Hysenagolli and their leadership has proven to be valuable so far.
Of course basketball is a team game and Teuta wouldn′t be in that position without the help of other players as well. One other key performer was Copes who played in 11 games averaging 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds. He however decided to leave the team in February so his presence will be deeply missed. We cannot also underestimate the influence of the local players like the captain Kristi Gorea, Genti Lasku, Julian Hamati and Robert Shestani. In particular Lasku was key in some victories as he is the most experienced of them. The 190 shooting guard played also for SK Tirana in previous seasons so his addition was really important for Teuta. Hamati on the other side will be one of the players who will be tasked with the job of replacing Copes under the basket although that will be really difficult.
During the season Teuta added some players trying to make its rotation deeper. After Copes left the team brought Zoran Vilotijevic to help under the basket but he is yet to prove himself. However the FInal Four will be a great opportunity to do so and he will have to be really up for the task. Kevin Brown and Nicholas Dixon are the other who came in during the campaign and are doing better and better. Their performance on the perimeter will be really key if Teuta is to have any success and the hopes of the management and coaching staff will be that the two Americans will be able to perform when it matters.
Teuta started the season with Boban Ninic as a head coach but later the very experienced Miodrag Baletic came in to replace him. This was his first BIBL season but he proved he is a good addition to the team and had a key role in some late wins. Just 10 days before te Final Four however the management decided to appoint a third coach for the season. His name is Afrim Bilali who is a former assistant coach of the Albanian National team and the current head coach. He has also led the U-18 NT of his country but it remains to be seen how that change will affect the Durres team for the Final Four.
However the final weekend of the season goes for the Albanian side, the management will be able to look back with some pride. Teuta had some good performance over the course of the campaign and that is surely something to build on for the future.