Former Gonzaga big man Filip Petrusev will spend the upcoming season in his home country of Serbia after signing with EuroLeague squad Crvena Zvezda, with support from the Philadelphia 76ers who own his rights and are stashing him overseas for a second consecutive season.
“They supported it,” Petrusev said of the 76ers. “The EuroLeague is the highest level of competition in Europe and that’s where I’ll definitely develop the most.”
Petrusev’s pro career took a rough turn this past year. After a dominant season with Mega Bemax in the Adriatic League, where he took home MVP honors after averaging 23.6 points and 7.6 rebounds, Petrusev was the 50th overall selection in the 2021 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia opted to stash Petrusev overseas rather than giving him a roster spot as a rookie, and he signed on with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. However, he ended up playing just under 10 minutes per game, averaging 5.2 points and 1.6 rebounds and getting benched for the playoffs and Final Four.
“I didn’t get the opportunity I thought I would get, although I showed in some games that I can play at that level,” Petrusev said. “Now I came here to show that I can do it consistently and help the team. I look forward to every game, especially in the EuroLeague. I haven’t played in a few months, so I will look forward to every game and every game will mean something to me.”
Petrusev may not have had the season he thought he would with Efes, but he did get a chance to compete with the Serbian national team over the summer – although he was one of the final cuts before the 2022 EuroBasket tournament.
Still, Petrusev enjoyed the experience mostly for the opportunity to practice and play alongside NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, which he called “the only positive thing that I would single out from that participation on the national team.”
“Until you see it, feel it on the field or play against him, you don’t have a true picture of how much quality and talent he has and what you can learn from it.”
Petrusev’s NBA career hasn’t gotten off the ground just yet, but a strong season with Crvena Zvezda could help the big man realize his dream of playing at the highest level before the year is up.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.