|30 September 2011|
Basketball In Europe
|Pero Antic's outstanding performances in the F.Y.R. of Macedonia jersey at EuroBasket brought him a move to powerhouse Olympiacos|
All of the players at this summer's EuroBasket in Lithuania have now turned their attention to the club season.
Many have even joined new teams.
One star in Alytus, Vilnius and Kaunas who was in the shop window during the 24-team tournament, was Pero Antic of FYR of Macedonia.
Antic, the captain, had been on the books of Spartak Saint Petersburg and helped his side capture last seasons' Cup of Russia and later reach the EuroChallenge Final Four.
Now the 2.10m power forward, who averaged 11.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game at the EuroBasket, has signed to play for Olympiacos in Greece and the Euroleague.
The club announced the capture of Antic on Monday.
"This is the best year of my career," he said.
"Initially we won the Cup in Russia, after it, of course, I was with the national team at the EuroBasket and now the transfer to Olympiacos.
"This is the icing on the cake.
"I had offers from Italy, Spain and Turkey, but when it came to the Olympiacos proposal and I spoke with Coach (Dusan) Ivkovic, it was all over.
"I'm honored to be a member of Olympiacos and to play for Coach Ivkovic. Although I'm 29, I can learn a lot from him."
Antic says he is going to a strong league.
"Olympiacos and Panathinaikos are always on top of Europe and everyone watches them," he said.
"Last year, I saw PAOK because my friend Todor (Gechevski).
"I believe that despite the economic problems that exist not just in Greece now but all over the world, the Greek league is still among the top three in Europe."
Antic is not the only FYR of Macedonia player on the move.
Point guard Vlado Ilievski, whose three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining stunned Lithuania and lifted the Macedonians into the Semi-Finals, has left Union Olimpija for Istanbul to play for Anadolu Efes in Turkey.
He agreed to terms with Efes before the EuroBasket.
Center Predrag Samardziski has joined Lietuvos Rytas from Olin Edirne and fan favorite Gjorgi Cekovski, the 2.03m power forward/center, has left Levski Sofia and returned home to MZT Skopje.
Vojdan Stojanovski, the 23-year-old shooting guard who caught fire from long range at the EuroBasket, including a five-of-five effort against Lithuania, has left Feni Indistrija in his homeland for Ukrainian outfit Cherkasy Monkeys.
How long he stays in Ukraine remains to be seen because he has been strongly linked with Olimpia Milano, who are led by Spain's national team coach Sergio Scariolo.
Several players who stood out at the EuroBasket have joined clubs in Spain.
|Martynas Pocius played a very good season at Zalgiris and confirmed his form at EuroBasket before moving to Spain|
Real Madrid now have Lithuania shooting guard Martynas Pocius, formerly of Zalgiris Kaunas, on the books while Rudy Fernandez has agreed to come home and play for the club during the NBA lockout.
Fernandez was traded earlier this summer by the Portland Trail Blazers to Dallas.
Rihards Kuksiks was among the many talented youngsters in the Latvia squad and he has followed up the EuroBasket, where he shot an eye-popping 58.1% (18 of 31) from long range and averaged 16 points in five games, by signing for Valencia Basket.
Valencia also have Serbia playmaker Stefan Markovic, who has joined from Benetton Treviso.
France's 21-year-old center Kevin Seraphin, with an NBA season under his belt in Washington, shone for EuroBasket silver medalists France.
He has decided to continue his development with Caja Laboral during the lockout.
Another Serbian, Milenko Tepic, has left Panathinaikos for Cajasol Sevilla and Georgia's point guard, Marquez Haynes, has joined Gran Canaria.
Unicaja Malaga now have 26-year-old Luka Zoric of Croatia, a 2.11m center from KK Zagreb, to help the club that will again compete in the Euroleague.
Great Britain big man Robert Archibald, formerly of Unicaja, has remained in Spain after signing with CAI Zaragoza.
On To Russia
Serbia's Milos Teodosic wasn't able to work his magic for the national team this summer as they finished a disappointing eighth after second- and fourth-place finishes the previous two summers at EuroBasket 2009 and the 2010 World Championship.
He has moved to CSKA Moscow from Olympiacos and now has compatriot, former NBA center Nenad Krstic, as a teammate in Russia.
The third string center on Serbia's team at the EuroBasket, Boban Marjanovic, has joined Nizhny Novgorod.
He played for Zalgiris Kaunas last season.
Lokomotiv Kuban have a couple of new players that were at the EuroBasket in guard Sergey Bykov of Russia, formerly of CSKA, and French center, Ali Traore (ex-Roma).
Yotam Halperin, the Israel national team veteran, has moved to Spartak Saint Petersburg.
Russia's national team captain Sergey Monya and center Timofey Mozgov are now at BC Khimki.
Former Spartak guard Henry Domercant of Bosnia and Herzegovina now plays for UNICS Kazan and will compete for last season's Eurocup winners in the Euroleague.
Where East Meets West
Several EuroBasket players, along with Ilievski, are with new teams in Turkey.
Ilievski's teammate at Efes will be Croatia center Stanko Barac, formerly of Caja Laboral, and Serbia's Dusko Savanovic.
Efes agreed to pay a buyout clause in Savanovic's contract at Valencia.
Turkey's Ersan Ilyasova has returned home from the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks to suit up for Efes, too, while Lithuania's Simas Jasaitis has gone to Turk Telekom.
Galatasaray have added Slovenia playmaker Jaka Lakovic, Lithuania big man Darius Songaila and Croatia power forward Luksa Andric to their squad.
Finland made a surprising run this summer, going all the way from the Additional Qualifying Round to the Second Round of the EuroBasket.
Some of their players have changed clubs.
Kimmo Muurinen had started last season for Deutsche Bank Skyliners in Germany's Bundesliga and decided to return home to Finland to play for Torpan Pojat.
Married to former women's national team player Jenni Muurinen, Kimmo and his wife wanted to come home as they have two kids.
"It's nice to return to Finland with all the hype generated by our success in EuroBasket," he said.
"At this time, it was enough traveling for a family man and ToPo offered a perfect opportunity to still play in a very competitive league with very good teammates."
Mikko Koivisto has moved from one Finnish league outfit, Nilan Bisons, to another in Torpan Pojat.
In Italy's Legadue, power forward Tuukka Kotti moved to Imola from Ferrara and center Gerald Lee Jr joined Veroli from Udine.
|No team in Germany has more national team players now than Bayern München, who added Robin Benzing over the summer|
National Team Men In Munich
One of the big stories in Germany is newly promoted Bayern Munich, who are coached by national team coach Dirk Bauermann.
The club has been able to attract EuroBasket squad members Philipp Schwethelm from Eisbaren Bremerhaven and Robin Benzing from Ratiopharm Ulm.
Schwethelm famously hit three fourth-quarter shots from the arc to lead Germany in their upset of Turkey in the Second Round this summer.
Jan-Hendrik Jagla, whose playing time in the squad virtually disappeared following the arrival of Dirk Nowitzki to the team, is also now on the books of Bayern after playing with Turk Telekom in Ankara.
Pekovic Back With Partizan
Minnesota's Montenegro center Nikola Pekovic had a disappointing summer with the national team.
Montenegro did not make it out of the First Round.
Pekovic has returned to Belgrade to play for former club Partizan during the lockout.
Olimpia Milano have caused a stir by bringing in Pekovic's national team point guard Omar Cook from Valencia, Greece captain Antonis Fotsis and center Ioannis Bourousis.
Fotsis had been with Panathinaikos and Bourousis with Olympiacos.
Danilo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets and Italy has agreed to play for Olimpia Milano during the lockout and is already with the team.
Milano have been in Malaga, Spain, this week, where Scariolo once coached Unicaja.
The two played in a friendly on Thursday that Unicaja won, 79-65.
Gallinari had 14 points for Olimpia.
Other players with new addresses include France's Mickael Gelabale at Charleroi in Belgium, Israel's Gal Mekel at Benetton Treviso, Georgia's Manuchar Markoishvili with Cantu.
Gelabale has an ankle injury and wasn't able to play in the team's Euroleague Qualifying Round tie on Thursday night.
Lithuania center Robertas Javtokas and Croatia sharpshooter Marko Popovic are now with Zalgiris.
Montenegro duo Goran Jeretin and Nikola Vucevic have moved to Lietuvos Rytas and KK Buducnost, respectively.