Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Greivis Vasquez Hopes Venezuela National Team Experience Translates to NBA Success

There's a story about Greivis Vasquez (2006-10) in USA Today about how he hopes his experience with the Venezuelan national team at this month's FIBA Americas tournament (currently being held in Argentina) will translate into success with the Memphis Grizzlies once the NBA is back in business. Excerpt:
Vasquez is a starter for Venezuela entering the 10-team, pre-Olympic FIBA Americas tournament in Mar del Plata, Argentina, running today through Sept. 11 (gold medal game on ESPN2). The top two teams get automatic bids for London 2012.

"It's high-level basketball. It's going to be good competition," Vasquez, the lone NBA player on Venezuela's roster, said from Argentina. "I'm going to play major minutes. … It'll carry this momentum going into my second year in the NBA. I will have more experience, and that will help me a lot."
So far, Venezuela has lost two close games to Brazil and the Dominican Republic in pool play, but they're not out of the competition yet. Games against Cuba and Canada are still on the schedule this week, and in order to move on to the next round, they simply need to avoid finishing in last place in their five team group.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gist's Drug Test Penalty from FIBA Announced: 3 Month Suspension

Earlier this summer, shortly after the news of James Gist (2004-08) signing to play for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbah├že Ulker, FIBA announced that Gist had failed a drug test, testing positive for marijuana. After re-testing his samples and hearing Gist's apologetic appeal, FIBA has announced Gist's penalty: a 3 month suspension (translation), which is essentially a slap on the wrist because the suspension is retroactive to the date of the drug test, so it basically amounts to "time served". Gist will be eligible to play for Fenerbah├že on September 9, 2011, well before their season begins in mid-October.

Monday, August 29, 2011

DJ Strawberry Signs with Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem

DJ Strawberry (2003-07) has signed to play this season (translation) with Israel's Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem. In addition to the Israeli Premier League, Hapoel is also slated to play in the international Eurocup tournament this season. The team's press release says:
After negotiations, Hapoel Jerusalem announces the signing of American point guard DJ Strawberry (26 years old, 1.96m) for
two years.

Coach Oded Katash said, "DJ is a hungry, young player who wants to play here in Jerusalem. He is a quick and athletic player that will add to an excellent team. He is a physical player and one of the significant features of his game is strong defense."

Strawberry, a graduate of the University of Maryland, started with the NBA Development League last season and then moved to Veritas Vilnius, where he played in the Euroleague, averaging 6.6 points and 2.8 assists in less than 17 minutes per game. In 2007, he was drafted by Phoenix with the 59th pick, and his resume also has a short stay in Italy. Strawberry finished with 2.2 points and one assist in eight minutes per game for the Suns. In total he played 33 games in NBA.

According to this interview with Strawberry from Eurobasket, the two year deal is a one month try-out, probably followed by a one year contract with an option for a second year. Go read the interview; here's an excerpt:
"Last year I had to play the unfamiliar point guard position for the first time in my career. It was an interesting experience but this season I'm looking forward to getting back into the mix of playing the combo-guard spot I'm used to."

Now, after signing a potential 1+1 year deal with Israeli Hapoel Jerusalem, Strawberry has the month of September to raise some eyebrows in the Holy Land and prove his doubters wrong, starting with the team's coaching staff. "The one month try-out doesn't really matter to me," Strawberry exclusively told Eurobasket, "I know what I'm capable of doing on the court, so, as long as I play my game, perform the way I know I can and prove my doubters wrong, I'll be fine and the contract terms don't concern me."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lonny Baxter Re-signs with Russia's Enisey

Lonny Baxter (1998-2002) has been officially re-signed for another season by his team in Russia, Enisey Krasnoyarsk:
Enisey keep Lonny Baxter for the upcoming season. The American Center remains with the team for another year.

In 2010 Enisey bolstered their frontcourt. They added Lonny Baxter to the roster. The 32-year-old center played for Besiktas two years ago. Lonny Baxter tallied 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per EuroCup game. In PBL his stats read 17.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Lonny Baxter used to play in Montepaschi Siena, Joventut, Panionios, the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls.
Baxter's stats in the Russian Premier League (PBL) last season were good enough for #4 in the league in scoring and #3 in rebounds.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Haukur Palsson Signs with Spain's Manresa

A few weeks ago, Haukur Palsson (2010-11) surprised a lot of people by deciding to leave the Terps for a pro career in Europe. It didn't take long for him to find a team. Basquet Manresa of Spain's ACB league announced that they have signed Palsson (translation) for the upcoming season. The team's press release said this:
Manresa's 2011/12 season will launch with 11 players. The latest to arrive is Haukur Palsson, a forward of 198 cm and 19 years, born in Reykjavik, Iceland, from the American University of Maryland.

His first academic year ended with averages of 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game, but should be noted that he also played for his country in the last Under-20 Division B tournament held in Bosnia. The new Manresa player ended the tournament with 22.7 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.

"He's a young player, with concern for the future, a physical fitness and athletic ideal because the team can work and have more resources, and facing difficult times of contingencies such as injury or other game players, thanks to physical ability, can help us in more than one position," coach James Ponsarnau said.

Haukur Palsson played in Under-16, Under-18, and Under-20 international competitions, all for Iceland, and now joins Manresa.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bambale Osby Signs to Play in France

Bambale Osby (2006-08) has signed to play for Aix-Maurienne Savoie in the French Pro B league this fall. The team's press release (translation) has this to say about Osby:
The club is pleased to announce the signing of the U.S. forward, Bambale Osby. Some call him "Boom" Osby.

Born in 1986 in Richmond, this 2.03M interior player (approximately 115kg, according to some sources) attended the University of Maryland between 2006 and 2008. Little by little, "Boom" won playing time (going from 7 to 27 min) and developed statistics of 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds during his senior year.

Not drafted, he decided to try his luck in Europe. With his first non-US team in Romania, Cluj, he averaged 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in just 20 minutes, and played two games in the Eurochallenge tournament, where he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds. His 2009/2010 season is divided between three countries, freelancing in Israel (4 games), Romania (7 games) and Austria (7 games).

Last season, the native of the state of Virginia was the star of Tallinn's TTU/Kalev club (one of Estonia's two biggest clubs which play in the Baltic League Championships), averaging 18.6 points and 12 rebounds.
Osby is joining two other Terps who signed with French Pro B teams this summer, Landon Milbourne (with Limoges) and Chris McCray (with Boulogne).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mike Jones Returns to Romania

After playing in South America and recovering from injury the last two seasons, Mike Jones (2003-07, Who?) will return to CSU Asesoft Ploesti in Romania this year. In 2009, Jones won the Romanian League championship with Ploesti. The team only has a brief news item (translation) on their website about Jones's return, but Romanian news site Prahova elaborates on Jones's return (translation):
Mike Jones, one of the most spectacular basketball players to wear the blue and white jersey, is back in Ploiesti. The 27 year old overseas player came to an agreement in Romania for one season, and says he is ready to help to rekindle Ploiesti's string of successes. [...]

Jones decided 2011 is the year of rebirth and relaunch for his career with Asesoft. That is why the American is in Ploiesti for a second term, giving the managers of CSU Ploiesti and their fans even more hope. The former University of Maryland star had a path with many ups and downs after leaving Asesoft in the summer of 2009. By then the winner of Romanian Championship Cup, Jones continued his career in Argentina first with Mar del Plata Penarol, a team that would eventually win the Argentinian championship. The second part of the 2009-2010 season found Jones in the jersey of Gimnasia Rivadavia, but then problems started.

Following a serious knee injury, the American took almost a year away from basketball, with his return to the court occurring in April 2011 following a late-season offer from Guaiqueries of Margarita of Venezuela. Mike Jones's return to CSU Asesoft occurs now that has received the favorable go-ahead from doctors to continue his career playing basketball overseas. [...]

Even under the circumstances, Jones is a versatile player, able to score with ease behind the arc, find the best open shots, and finish teammates' passes with a slam-dunk whenever he has the chance.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Adrian Bowie Will Play in Poland

Adrian Bowie (2007-11) has signed to play next season with Polpharma Starograd Gdanski in Poland's top pro league. From a story in the Baltic Journal (translation):
Adrian Bowie is the new playmaker for Polpharma. Starogard is therefore already on the verge of completing the team's composition for the 2011/2012 season. To complete the roster of the Polish Cup winners, they are only missing a center.

The 22-year-old Bowie is a recent graduate of Maryland, where he played for the Maryland Terrapins collegiate team. Adrian Bowie played a total of 135 games in the colors of this team. In the 2010/2011 season, he was an important part of the team, averaging 8.8 points, 3.5 assists, and 3 rebounds.

"We were looking for options on the point guard position. I must admit that we had several candidates, but went with Bowie. This is a young player from a good university, and we hope that will be useful on our team" Roman Olszewski, president of SKS Sport SA said, explaining the team's choice.
The team's press release (translation) also notes that Bowie hails from the same school that produced other great point guards, such as Steve Francis, Steve Blake, and Sarunas Jasikevicius. Last season, Polpharma finished in 5th place in the league and was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the league playoffs, but they did win the mid-season Polish Cup tournament.