First of all I would like to apologize for taking me so long to get my first blog written. I know Josh Paunil asked me a long time ago if I could do something like this and I agreed right away, but because of the way the season was going and also with my wife getting pregnant it kind of slipped off my mind. I hope you guys can forgive me!
This year I am playing in the French Pro A (the top league in France and probably fourth best in Europe). It has been a different experience than what I went through last year in Italy. Since I have not shared any of my Italian experience I will try to summarize it in a small paragraph so you guys can get a feel for the differences between the two leagues and countries.
In Italy, I played for one of the most respected teams in Europe, Benetton Treviso. A bunch of NBA players played there before their time in the Association and a lot of great coaches coached there, too. When I got there, I was very excited about the opportunity to play for such a team. We had a good team and thought we really could be in the top five of the league.
In EuroCup (second in European competition after the EuroLeague), we played very well and we were one game away from playing in the quarterfinals. Actually, I will take that back, we were about a fast break away from that (yes, it was me that blew an easy two-on-one but you have to push through it and you live and learn from your mistakes). In the same time we were not doing very well in the Italian League.
The league is very tough and competitive, and we could not play as well as we wished so ended up missing the playoffs by a little bit. Unfortunately, last year Benetton decided to back out as the main sponsor, so it was a rough year for us regarding that aspect, too. It is very sad that such a storied franchise folded, but people in Treviso are really amazing. I think they will be back up there in no time.
They already put a young team together and are making the right steps to play in the Serie A again. Since Benetton backed out and the team would not play in the Serie A the following year, I had to get on the market and look for another team. That is how I ended up in France.
At the time it seemed like the right spot for me. Last year, I was playing about 20 minutes per game, which is very good, especially for a rookie in European Pro basketball (yes, I am European but went to the U.S. when I was a sophomore in high school). I ended up choosing Le Havre as my next destination because it offered me a chance to play more minutes and really play through my growing pains.
So far it seems to me I made the right decision because I have been playing well. I am currently averaging 13 points per game, which is 20th best in the league, and 5.45 rebounds per game, which is good for 18th in the League. I think I can play better than that and really help my team even more, especially when rebounding the ball.
So far as a team we have had our growing pains. We started the season going 2-0, but since then we are 4-11 and in 15th place. To be honest with you guys, I think we can compete with anyone in this league. We showed that by beating LeMans (who’s in third place) and some other good teams in this league. We were also up eight at Gravelines (first place team) going into the fourth quarter and blew the lead and ended up losing. We showed flashes of being a really good team, but sometimes we have shown flashes of being a bad team.
We have 13 games left. I think we can make a push for the playoffs since we are two games behind the eighth seed, who we just beat a week ago. We are not in the spot we wanted to be in at this point in the season. But with the right approach to the next 13 games, we can make up for the lost ground.
Now that I updated you guys on how things are going I hope I can post more often and that way these posts don’t have to be so long!