Ukraine: Greer Makes A Nice Home In Kiev

17.04.2005

By Jeff Taylor, PA International

BC Kyiv's LaMarr Greer may be a long way from his native New Jersey but he feels right at home in Ukraine.

And for good reason.

First of all there is the basketball on offer, his chosen profession which he excels in as a 1.96m, high-scoring guard for one of the best teams in the FIBA Europe League.

But more importantly, there is his family.

Lamarr Greer (BC Kyiv)
Lamarr Greer
Greer's wife, three sons and three-month old baby girl live with him in Kiev.

Living abroad could bring added pressure to a family's life, however, it doesn't have to.

"The good thing is, we have become closer as a family," Greer said to PA International on behalf of FIBA Europe.

"My boys look after each other. I can see it when we go home (to the United States). They make sure they stay out of trouble."

The sons are aged 10, seven and five, and they attend an American school in the city.

"They have Ukrainian friends, from Spain and Greece, they get to see how they live," Greer said.

"I always tell them they should appreciate it. My kids have been to places like London, Paris."

Greer also has a basketball playing cousin just one country away. Lynn, a former Temple Owl, is a member of the vaunted Russian Superleague club Dynamo Moscow.

Living abroad is full of adventure, and there have been some nervous times. Kiev was in the world's spotlight recently because of Viktor Yushchenko, who shot to prominence as a pro-western politician.

Yushchenko lost his presidential election, but complained of fraud and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flooded the streets to protest, forcing an election re-run.

The next time, Yushchenko won.

"We were a little nervous because we had never been in that kind of situation," Greer admitted.

"My wife was pregnant at the time so she went home with the kids.

"After a while, it was obvious there was no violence and it just people voicing their opinions."

On the court

At 18.6 points per game for Kyiv this year in Europe, Greer has been a big contributor for a team which is still contending for honours.

"We made the FIBA Europe League Final Four, and I'm hapy about that," he said. "We're one of the top teams in the Ukraine. It's the most important time of the season. If you play well during the season, but lose now, that's all that anyone remembers. I don't like to lose."

Greer has two reasons to be fired up for this year's Final Four.

He was a major part of the UNICS Kazan team that reached the Final Four last season but broke his foot after the quarter-final and ended up missing the big event that his team hosted and won.

"I had a cast for a month," Greer said. "I'd never had an injury like that. To hear I was going to miss the Final Four was huge disappointment so I'm excited about this one."

The other reason why Greer has circled April 27 on his calendar is that his side face Fenerbahce for a third time this season.

Fenerbahce beat them the first two times.

Even though Fenerbahce are the host team in Istanbul, and Turkish crowds are known for being some of the toughest in the sport, Greer said: "I can't wait.

"This is why you play, to be in games like this.

"Besides, in Istanbul, they beat us by a last second three-pointer.

"I remember certain moments very clearly. I especially remember the games we lose. We'll get them back."

Greer says his team has as good a chance as any of the sides playing in the Final Four.

He said: "We have a well balanced team. We have a lot of experience. "Marcelo Nicola - he's played on Final Four teams."

Nicola, a former Argentinian international, won the three-point shooting contest last week in Cyprus at the FIBA Europe League All Star Event.

Greer was also at the event.

As for pressure, Greer said: "I'm kind of used to it, having played in the ACC where you have big games every week, so I don't really get nervous.

"Our coach (Renato Pasquali) came from Benetton, he's used to it.

"We'll be ready."

Back in the USA

Once the season is over, Greer will return home to see family and friends. He will also speak to players at his old high school, Middle Township in Cape May, where he learned the game under Tom Feraco.

"My high school coach pushed me to the limit," Greer said.

"Now I can look back and appreciate it. I tell the players they need to make the most of it. I am kind of the guy everyone respects. They'll listen to me because they see that I am playing overseas."

Greer could end up coaching one day, too, once his playing days over here. For a man who has competed in the ACC, and in professional leagues like Italy's Lega A, Russia's Superleague and now in Ukraine, he would have a lot to offer.


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