|25 October 2013|
|Brian Greene has been called into Joensuun Kataja as injury cover for Vesa Mäkäläinen|
EuroChallenge Finnish clubs Joensuun Kataja and Team TEHO Sport Kotka (KTP), as well as French club JDA Dijon have called in replacements just days out from the beginning of the competition.
Kataja have seen Vesa Mäkäläinen battling one injury after the other since already the start of pre-season, and following the news that the 27-year-old winger will be sidelined until at least late November, they started looking for someone to step in temporarily.
On Thursday, they announced that they had found their man in the shape of Brian Greene and have signed a two-month contract with the 30-year-old American.
1.96m Greene is characterised by his crowd-pleasing style of play, which is highlighted by spectacular dunks, and has always been popular with fans.
He is no stranger to the EuroChallenge either having competed twice in the past, while playing for Ukrainian clubs.
Greene was the fourth-leading scorer in the EuroChallenge in 2008-09, as he averaged 16.8 points-per-game to help BC Sumykhimprom reach the Regular Season of the competition.
He later joined another Ukrainian side BC Goverla and returned to the EuroChallenge in 2012, averaging 11.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per contest.
The veteran swingman spent last season in New Zealand playing for first division outfit HBS Bank Hawks.
"If there are no surprises, Greene's paperwork should be in order for him to play in the game against Honka [on Wednesday 30 October]," Kataja head coach Jukka Toijala said.
Kataja's opening game in the EuroChallenge is at home against French Pro A leaders Cholet, on 5 November.
Team TEHO Sport Kotka meanwhile took a more radical step on Thursday, as they have decided to replace Canadian forward Sefton Barrett with American Ryan Ayers.
Barrett averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the four games of the Finnish Korisliiga that he featured in, but suffered an injury mid-October and is currently undergoing rehabilitation.
Given the circumstances, KTP head coach Sami Toiviainen was delighted that Ayers was available, as the duo have collaborated successfully in the past.
"It was an easy choice for me at this point, even if there were other options," Toiviainen said.
"I know Ryan's skills, but also what kind of guy he is as a human being.
Ayers played under coach Toiviainen at fellow Finnish club Namika Lahti during the 2010-11 season and finished as the team's second-leading scorer with 17.6 points-per-game, while also adding 5.9 rebounds-a-night.
"He [Ayers] is versatile, he can play in any position from '2' to '4', he is a great shooter, but is also able to drive on every basket," the coach added.
"At Lahti, Ryan also had six rebounds-per-game, and I hope he will again reach this level."
The 27-year-old Ayers moved to France in the 2011-12 season after signing with Boulazac, where he averaged 11.4 points on 40% three-point shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 34 games in the Pro B league.
Last season he had a two-month spell at Orleans in France's top flight and in the Eurocup, replacing the injured Dwayne Broyles, and then returned to the USA in the winter to play in the NBA D-League with Austin.
KTP's opening game in EuroChallenge Regular Season Group E is at home to Italian side Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia.
DIJON TAKE NO CHANCES, CALL ON FENN
|Darren Fenn will compete in the EuroChallenge for the fourth time, following three previous spells with the Artland Dragons |
JDA Dijon will go into their EuroChallenge Group A première against Port of Antwerp Giants and most probably also in the second game away at Rakvere Tarvas without the services of Zach Moss.
The undersized (1.97m) center is battling a groin injury and could be out of action for as long as six weeks, depending on the progress of his rehabilitation.
The French club have decided to not stay with their hands crossed and have agreed to terms with the vastly experienced Darren Fenn, who will step in as cover for the duration of Moss's injury.
The 33-year-old center played last season in Japan but has spent the biggest part of his professional career in Germany.
Fenn initially suited up for Eisbären Bremerhaven, then played during two years for champions Brose Baskets Bamberg and finally had a four-year spell at Artland Dragons.
While playing for the Quakenbrück side, the 2.08m veteran competed in the EuroChallenge during three consecutive seasons.
Fenn averaged 10.4 points and 4.6 rebounds-per-game in the 2012 edition of the competition, when Artland had a deep run to the quarter-final play-offs but were eliminated by eventual champions Besiktas Milangaz.