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From left to right: Rice, Koponen and Claver, back together again at the Palau Blaugrana. | V. SALGADO - FCB

FC Barcelona Lassa knows team chemistry is a key ingredient to success. And with players coming and going almost every off-season, a cold-hard fact in modern sports, one of the biggest challenges for any team is getting new faces on the same page.

This season, Barça Lassa appear to be a step ahead in that area.

All three of the team’s signings for this season shared the dressing room at the Russian club BC Khimki as recently as two seasons ago.

New point guards Tyrese Rice and Petteri Koponen spent the last two seasons at Khimki. Barça Lassa’s other pick up, forward Víctor Claver, spent the last three months of the 2014/15 season there after leaving the Denver Nuggets.

The trio kept in touch even after Claver left for Lokomotiv Kuban and, now, they have been reunited in Barcelona.

Rice is American. Koponen is Finnish. Claver is from Valencia, Spain.

But the inherent cultural differences among Barça’s three newest hoopsters is nothing more than a footnote. Reciprocal words of praise bounce back and forth like a pinball.

“It’s a pleasure to have a player like him on your team,” Claver says of Rice. “On a personal level, off the court, we spent time together. He loves watching NBA games. You always want to have him on your team.”

Koponen agrees: “[Rice] brings a lot to the dressing room.”

Rice and Koponen concur that, despite only having played with Claver for three months, it was a great experience.

“Getting to play with him again, this time in Barcelona, is special for me,” Rice said.

Koponen pretty much summed it all up. 

“It’s going to be a great season," he said.


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