Giants And Bears Bolster Frontline

27 December 2013

EUROCHALLENGE

10. Nicolai Iversen (Bakken Bears Aarhus)
The Bears' roster moves promises more rest to the likes of Nicolai Iversen

Port of Antwerp Giants and Bakken Bears Aarhus have both decided to reinforce their frontcourt ahead of the EuroChallenge Last 16 which commences in mid-January.

The astute Bears front office was monitoring one of the best players of rival Danish team FOG Naestved and moved swiftly once his contract with that club expired.

Following Naestved's last game before the Christmas break, Bakken announced that they have penned a deal that runs until the end of the current season with 25-year-old Afamefuna Okolie Quincy.

The Nigerian forward/center averaged 12.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game with Naestved during the first half of the Danish Basket Ligaen season and Bakken are confident he can make a similarly important contribution in the EuroChallenge, this time in a Bears jersey.

"After qualifying for the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge we realised that we will have to play an exceptionally high 23 games within nine weeks and that means a lot of pressure, especially on our big guys," commented Bakken sports director Michael Piloz.

"We have no players with Okolie's skills and it was therefore a natural move for us to sign him."

The Bears averaged 37.8 rebounds per game as the fourth-best team on the glass during the EuroChallenge Regular Season, and their roster already features two dominant big men, in the form of Danish veterans Chris Christoffersen and Nicolai Iversen.

The club however felt they needed to add further depth to their frontcourt, and the acquisition of the 2.03m tall Quincy was a step in that direction.

"Our first priority is to not wear down our players even before the play-offs have commenced and therefore it was necessary to be able to relieve especially Christoffersen and Iversen, and that's what our agreement with Okolie ensures," Piloz said.

Bakken are pitted in Last 16 Group L, together with Team TEHO Sport Kotka, Ural Ekaterinburg and Tsmoki Minsk.

On the other hand, rather than adding to their roster, Antwerp have decided to modify the composition of their frontcourt by replacing a center with a power forward.

The Giants parted ways with Clayton Vette, who had seen limited playing time and averaged 1.2 points and 1.4 rebounds per game in the EuroChallenge, with Ryan Pearson.

The 23-year-old American played for Israeli club Maccabi Ashdod until December and averaged 11.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest in his nine games in Israel's Winner League.

The 1.98m Pearson had spent last season with Hoverla and averaged 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in the Ukrainian Super League.

Antwerp will do battle with Krasnye Krylia Samara, Tartu University Rock and Gaz Metan Medias in EuroChallenge Last 16 Group I.


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