|18 February 2008|
American Nate Reinking didn't have to join the armed forces to travel in Europe.
Nor did he buy a backpack, an airline ticket and a Eurail pass.
Reinking, who hails from the small Ohio town of Galion and played college hoops at Kent State University, travelled to Europe 11 and a half years ago through basketball.
And Belgium club Dexia Mons-Hainaut are glad the slick, left-handed shooting point guard is still here, because he is a vital part of their success in the Belgian league and the EuroCup.
|The size of Samara and players like Yaniv Green could be a problem for Dexia.|
"He's been a model of consistency," said Dexia coach Chris Finch.
Consistency indeed! When Dexia take on CSK-VVS Samara this week in the EuroCup Quarter Final Round, you can almost pencil in what Reinking's numbers will be in the boxscore.
In five of Dexia's eight EuroCup games, he scored 11 points.
In one of the games, he finished with nine.
What's impressive is the efficiency in which Reinking always goes about his work.
From three-point range in the EuroCup, Reinking has taken 26 shots and nailed 13 of them.
When a player is hitting 50% of his three-balls in any league, his teams are going to win more times than not.
At the free throw line, Reinking has made 17 of 20 (85%).
Is Reinking like a good wine, getting better with age?
"I don't know," the 34-year-old said to Basketball World News. "I guess I'd like to say I'm pretty consistent."
Consistent is also what Dexia Mons-Hainaut have been in the EuroCup.
They played well in both of their victories in the Elimination Round 2 tie with My Guide Amsterdam and finished top of Group B in the Qualifying Round above Ural Great Perm, Cherkaski Mavpy and Banvit.
That terrific performance has thrown them into a best-of-three Quarter Final showdown with Samara of Russia.
Russians Are Big, Strong
There is a real sense of anticipation in Mons right now because the club is on the cusp of a spot in the EuroCup Final Four, although you wouldn't have known it speaking to Reinking on Friday, the day before Dexia's league game against VOO Verviers-Pepinster.
"We're concentrating on the league and on Sunday, then we'll start preparing for them (Samara)," he said.
For the record, Dexia lost 82-76 to fall into second place in the Belgian league behind Oostende.
But Reinking remained his consistent good self, at least offensively, making three of six shots, including one of two from three-point range, and also burying three of four at the charity stripe.
Now Dexia can focus on Samara, and Reinking has been in Europe long enough to know that teams that come from Russia's Superleague, whether they are CSKA Moscow or Samara, have a certain look about them.
"They're kind of big," Reinking said. "You have to be in the Russian league."
Dexia will attempt to neutralize that size advantage by playing an open court game and shooting a lot of three-pointers.
Most importantly, they will play tenacious defense.
"We're going to take our style, play defense - especially in Europe that's big," Reinking said. "If we can control the ball and play our style, hopefully we can come out on top.
"We also have home court advantage, so if we protect that, it's big. The fans are great here. From the start of the season, everyone has been excited here.
"They have been packing the place out."
There will be 3,500 fans filling up the gym to pull for Dexia, and the home support will be an import factor.
Some players claim that when they are between the lines, they hear nothing but what's on the court, like the bouncing of the leather ball on the hardwood or a point guard barking orders to a teammate.
"I hear the crowd," he says. "You are concentrating on the game, but that is just one aspect of it. It's a huge influence on the game, especially at home. It's a huge advantage."