|Jeff Taylor has been covering European basketball since 1997, when he first worked on the television program SLAM. He has been a basketball writer and broadcaster since that time, traveling the continent and covering the game in depth for FIBA Europe since its launch in 2003.|
Tiago Splitter is certain he did the right thing, signing for Valencia during the NBA lockout instead of returning to former club Baskonia in Vitoria.
Other teams were interested in signing the 26-year-old, who will begin his second season with the San Antonio Spurs when players and owners come up with a new collective bargaining agreement.
Until then, he is a Valencia player and not, much to the chagrin of his fans in the Basque country, on the books of Caja Laboral (Baskonia).
|Tiago Splitter returns to Spain after his debut in the NBA|
"I spent a long time there and have a lot to thank them for.
"But at this time in my career, this was the better option and I am 100% convinced of this.
"I had other options but I took this decision with my family and I am very happy to be here."
Tiago, who moved to Spain at the age of 15, has a reputation for being an extremely hard worker, so he seems to be an ideal fit for a Valencia club that spurned sponsorship money this season to instead have the message ‘Cultura del Esfuerzo' - the Culture of Effort - on their jersey.
"The only thing I can promise is hard work every day," he said.
"I'm going to try to help to improve and help to win games.
"I think we have a good group, young and with a lot of ambition.
"This philosophy, as the jersey says, the Culture of Effort, is the only way to get something. I'm going to give all my best for this club."
If one benefit to being in the Mediterranean city is the sunshine, Tiago wouldn't know it because it's done nothing but rain since the Brazil center showed up on Friday afternoon.
There was a heavy downpour late Monday morning, less than 24 hours after he made his debut at Murcia and had 12 points and 10 rebounds in an 86-83 Valencia victory.
When Tiago showed up for his unveiling to the Valencia media on Monday, it was a huge event.
He was the MVP of the 2009-10 ACB season, and the ACB Finals after leading Caja Laboral (Baskonia) to a 3-0 upset of Barcelona.
Kirilenko's Broken Nose
There are many reasons why teams hate to face Andrei Kirilenko but the biggest of them all is that he's willing to put his nose where it's not wanted.
If being a pest has helped him reach the top of the game, then it also contributed to Kirilenko suffering a broken nose on Saturday night in a Russian PBL clash with Krasnye Krylia.
While trying to play help-defense, Kirilenko quickly moved across the lane in an attempt to stop an attack when the Samara club's Fedor Likholitov inadvertently caught Kirilenko in the head with his right elbow.
AK47 crumpled to the floor and didn't get up until he'd been tended to by the CSKA medical staff.
There was blood, sweat, tears and a dazed look on Kirilenko's face as he went to the hospital to be examined by doctors in Samara.
He left the court with a bandaged head.
"At the moment of impact," he said in the Russian media, "I had a slight loss of memory."
Kirilenko absolved Likholitov of any blame.
"Fedor Likholitov did not see me, and I ran into his elbow," Kirilenko said.
"Then I tripped over Likholitov and hit my face on the floor. As a result, damage was quite a lot."
Kirilenko, who says he will only be able to breathe through his mouth for six days, is expected to miss two or three games and when he does return, he'll have to wear a protective mask.
How important to CSKA Moscow is Kirilenko?
He has the highest ranking of all players in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague four weeks into the campaign.
Turiaf's Mixed Emotions
|Ronny Turiaf joined fellow France international Tony Parker at ASVEL to boost the team's chances in the Eurocup and the French ProA|
Ronny Turiaf knows things could be worse.
With the NBA lockout, he could be like a lot of other players in the league across the Atlantic stewing in frustration with no team to play for.
The fact that he's a France international, is friends with Tony Parker and also happens to be a very, very good center has given him the chance to play for ASVEL.
Yet all is not well in the Turiaf camp.
"I'll be honest," he said.
"The Villeurbanne adventure is very interesting and gives me a lot in terms of human values, but I am out of my element.
"I miss not having my habits and notably I miss not having my dog with me. I miss him. That might make some laugh, but not me."
Turiaf, just like Parker, is helping ASVEL win games both in the Eurocup and France's Pro A.
In the club's weekend 86-63 rout of Elan Chalon, Turiaf had 15 points and eight rebounds and had a team-high valuation of 26.