Pops Nears Return; Lilov To Medias

11 January 2013
44. Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Besiktas Milangaz)
Headed to Milan? Pops Mensah-Bonsu is ready to roll again

"I'm home, just waiting on the right call," Great Britain international Pops Mensah-Bonsu replied to inquiries on Twitter about his whereabouts on Thursday night.

According to media reports in Italy and around Europe however, the EuroChallenge 2012 Final Four MVP has already received that call and will not be be enjoying quiet nights in his London flat for much longer.

Instead he will soon return where he is at his best, on a basketball court.

Mensah-Bonsu has been sidelined since August, when he underwent knee surgery immediately after the London Games.

Now he is reported to have agreed to terms with EA7 Emporio Armani Milano, pending a medical.

The power forward is expected to travel to Italy next week to seal the move, with Milano looking to finalise details by the registration deadline next Friday, so he can be at the disposal of coach Sergio Scariolo for the away game at Juvecaserta on 20 January.

Even if the move to Milano does not materialise, sources have confirmed that the Brit will return to action by the end of the month at the latest.

A fully fit Mensah-Bonsu could be a great addition to the roster of many a team in Europe, but is above all great news for Great Britain ahead of EuroBasket 2013.

The 29-year-old has been plagued by injuries throughout his career and indeed missed out on EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania.

He returned to the courts though a few months later and helped Besiktas Milangaz to an historical Turkish BEKO Ligi, Turkish Cup and EuroChallenge treble.

Mensah-Bonsu averaged a double-double of 18.5 points and 11.8 rebounds in the European competition, earning Final Four MVP honours in the process.

He then joined his Great Britain team-mates in the summer and contributed 11.5 points and 7.3 boards to his country's campaign at the Olympic basketball tournament, before sustaining the knee injury.

The 2.06m Brit had signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv but never played for the Turkish Airlines powerhouse as his contract was annulled.

He has accumulated plenty of experience in a variety of leagues in his career, having been on the books of several NBA teams as well as CSKA Moscow and Spanish sides Granada and Joventut Badalona.


11. Ivan Lilov (Bulgaria)
One of three new faces on the Gaz Metan Medias roster: Ivan Lilov

Bulgarian international Ivan Lilov meanwhile has already joined EuroChallenge side Gaz Metan Medias.

The 24-year-old shooting guard is one of three new additions to the Romanian club's roster during the first days of the new year, as they have also penned deals with Serbian Zoran Krstanovic and American Kyle Shiloh.

Lilov, who has played for Bulgaria at every age level since he was 15 years old, first suited up for the senior national during their Division A campaign ahead of EuroBasket 2011, although he did not make the 12-man squad that travelled to Lithuania for the Final Round.

He established himself as an indispensable player on the team last summer though, by averaging 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in the EuroBasket 2013 Qualification Round.

Bulgaria were unlucky in that they were on the wrong end of a three-way tie with Sweden and Azerbaijan in second place in Group B, with the Scandinavians earning the ticket to Slovenia.

Lilov, who had started the season at Bulgarian side Balkan Botevgrad, made his first appearance with Medias in Wednesday's 73-60 win over CSS Giurgiu in the Romanian LNB league.

He had a bad shooting night and only scored two points but coach Marcel Dan Tenter will undoubtedly be hoping he can make a valuable contribution once he acclimatises to his new surroundings.

Krstanovic on the other hand is definitely a player whose potential coach Tenter knows very well, as they coincided at CSU Mobitelco Cluj-Napoca in the past.

The 30-year-old center spent several seasons at Media's rivals and was named Player of the Year in the LNB in 2011, when the Cluj-Napoca club won the Romanian league title.

He averaged 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in last year's EuroChallenge Regular Season with Cluj-Napoca.


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