There were no bigger games this week in the FIBA Europe League than Aris v. Polonia Warbud and no bigger performances than that of Aris guard Smush Parker.
Last year Aris reigned supreme in European competition, winning the FIBA Europe Champions Cup on home soil. This year success has not come so easy and the Greek giants‘ play-off berth was far from guaranteed after 11 games in Group C.
As such Aris found themselves in a direct, winner-takes-all match-up with Polonia. A spot in the play-offs was on the line for both teams, while the loser would be literally sent packing to concentrate on domestic league action for the rest of the season.
|Parker's athleticism on full display|
As it turned out, Aris truly rose to the occasion and hit Polonia for a season high 111 points in their 111:92 victory. It was an all-around team performance that won the game, but Smush Parker certainly stood out for his personal contribution. The US guard nearly managed a triple double, scoring 21 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing 11 assists.
Parker was signed by Aris in December and made his debut FEL appearance against Hapoel Tel Aviv. Since his arrival, Aris have gone 4-1 and Parker has contributed 18.6ppg and a team high 5.6apg.
The ability to pass the ball should not come as too much of a surprise as Parker hails from New York, the Mecca of point guards. After finishing high school he went to junior college in Southern Idaho before attending Fordham. Parker then made himself avaialble for the 2002 NBA draft, but was not selected. He managed, however, to latch on to the Cleveland Cavaliers and played the entire 2002/2003 season, averaging a respectable 6.2ppg and 2.5apg in his rookie year.
Things did not work out in Cleveland and Parker turned down an offer from the San Antonio Spurs to sign with Aris. The Spurs‘ loss is no doubt Aris‘ gain and all eyes will be on Parker to see if he can lead his new team to another European title.