BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Michael Koch is upbeat about the arrival of Jamel McLean |
Telekom Baskets Bonn have had a bumpy start to their season but the EuroChallenge Group L side have now reasons to believe the ride will become much smoother.
On Saturday, Bonn saw their troubled quest to find a replacement for Patrick Ewing Junior, who was released from his contract just before Christmas, come to a satisfactory conclusion.
The club announced they had penned a deal with American Jamel McLean until the end of the season.
The 24-year-old forward played a similar role at Belgian side BC Oostende earlier this season, when he stepped in for the sidelined through injury Dragisa Drobnjak.
McLean averaged 6.1 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time per contest in his ten games in the Ethias League with the 2011 EuroChallenge Final Four hosts.
He also contributed 4.7 points and 4.8 rebounds on average in his six games in the Eurocup.
"Jamel is a player with enough experience in Europe and he was active until the end of December, these were important prerequisites for us," explained Bonn head coach Michael Koch.
"He is a very active player on the court, he works hard on defence and is an excellent rebounder."
McLean is expected to make his debut on Wednesday against BBC Bayreuth, if everything goes according to plan this time around.
Bonn's first choice to replace Ewing had been Marqus Blakely, but he never suited up for them as he failed to pass the medical and his contract was annulled.
On Sunday, Koch had more reasons to smile as he saw his team put together a string of two victories in the BEKO Bundesliga for only the second time this season.
Bonn were playing host to TBB Trier and came strong out of the blocks to take an 11-point lead, 39-28, at half-time.
Their defence was much less intense in the second half, but despite the fact they allowed 48 points in the final two quarters they still managed to hold on for a 90-76 victory.
Lithuanian shooting guard Benas Veikalas led the charge with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the floor while Kyle Weems and David McCray chipped in with 15 points apiece.
Bonn have now improved to 7-9 in the Bundesliga standings and could soon join the battle for the last play-off spot as they have a game in hand compared to the three sides that are tied in eighth place with eight wins each.
TOFAS START STRONG, ADD LUKAUSKIS
|Mindaugas Lukauskis gives Tofas more versatility on the wings|
Both Turkish sides that compete in the EuroChallenge kicked off the new year in the best way possible.
Tofas Bursa picked up an important success on the road in the BEKO Ligi on Saturday, before announcing a new addition to their roster.
They outlasted their hosts Olin Edirne, 73-72, in a back-and-forth encounter that went into overtime.
Once again, Steven Burtt was the key player on offence for the Bursa side.
The point guard spent over 40 minutes on the floor and finished with 18 points and five assists, getting plenty of support from Joshua Heytvelt who contributed 16 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes of playing time.
The hard-fought victory allows Tofas to keep their hopes for a play-off spot intact, as they improved to 6-8 and remain tied in eighth place with Aliağa Petkim.
On Monday, the club announced they had agreed to terms with Lithuanian small forward Mindaugas Lukauskis, who had filled in for injured Tomas Kelati at Spanish side Valencia Basket earlier in the season.
Lukauskis averaged 4.2 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists in his five games in Liga Endesa.
Pinar Karsiyaka meanwhile defeated Erdemir 64-54 on Saturday, also on the road, to register a second consecutive win after their loss at Anadolu Efes on 23 December.
True to the defence-comes-first principle of their coach Ufuk Sarica, the Izmir team gave up only 20 points to their hosts during the entire second half to come back from an early six-point deficit and secure the victory.
Center William Thomas was instrumental in the success as he led all scorers with 16 points and also grabbed nine rebounds.
Robert Dixon had a bad shooting night but still contributed 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Karsiyaka improved to 11-3 and stay within one win of league leaders Banvit and Fenerbahce.
Both Tofas and Karsiyaka are again in action next weekend in the BEKO Ligi before they turn their focus on their opening EuroChallenge Last 16 games, in Group I and Group K respectively.