Behind a strong double-double showing of 12 points and 10 rebounds, courtesy of 6-11 Australian center Aleks Maric, and thanks to a dominate Most Valuable Player performance by interim big man Richard Hendrix, who contributed 14 points and 9 boards, Russian Lokomotiv Kuban secured its first ever Eurocup title with a 75-64 triumph over Spanish Uxue Bilbao.
Both Maric (Panathinaikos) and Hendrix (EA7 Milan), shown the door by their recently respected Euroleague homes, have managed to come alive in Russia, upped their statistics, and resurrect their stardom, en route to returning to Euroleague action next season.
While Maric is locked in with Kuban for the upcoming 2013-14 season, Hendrix, who is on a loan from Milan, will get shipped back to Italy to honor the second year of his deal.
Kuban Coach Evgeny Pashutin utilized his massive inside presence to the maximum. Maric playing the center, and Hendrix at power-forward revealed to be a killer duo combining for 19 boards, five of them offensive, and five assists.
"Our strategy offensively was to go inside to Richard Hendrix and Aleks Maric," a victorious Pashutin said. "They both dominated and we were able to get a lead, go from there and have a good game," the 44-year-old Russian-born coach added.
Awkwardly enough, Israeli power Maccabi Tel Aviv, currently trailing Real Madrid 0-2 in the best-of-five Euroleague quarter-finals series, is getting demolished inside the paint by its Spanish rival.
Seeing that Maccabi sent 7-footer Giorgi Shermadini to Greece on December 2012, and waived high-flying 6-8 power-forward Malcolm Thomas, who is now hooping for the Chicago Bulls, Shawn James' outstanding performances remain no match against Madrid's inside firepower. Dating back to March 2013, Maccabi targeted and engaged in conversations with Maric, who eventually preferred the Russian currency. Upon joining Kuban on January 2013, David Blatt heavily pursued Hendrix, and urged Tel Aviv officials to re-sign the Alabama alumnus. Yet Maccabi executives eventually inked Croatian Euroleague-rook Darko Planinic to a multi-year deal.
Planinic is far from being the coaching staff favorite Hendrix was, or Maric could have been, registering just 3.5 points and 1.5 boards during 6.5 minutes per versus Madrid.
As Madrid outrebounds Tel Aviv 85-44 over the first pair of series contests, Maric, tailing a miserable four points in seven minutes for Panathinaikos under former coach Zeljko Obradovic last season, has jump-started his international career, revisiting his dominance from when playing in Serbia with Partizan Belgrade.
"Our target from the beginning was to win this cup. We are now going to the play in the Euroleague. We conquered our goal of taking Kuban to the next level. It is an amazing feeling," said Maric, completing his Eurocup debut season with double-digit scoring figures of 11 points and 7.3 rebounds nightly.
Hendrix's season upside has also been remarkable. The 264-pounder who took home Israel's Center of the Year honors, discovered unfamiliar territory earlier this season under Sergio Scariolo, barley logging double-digits in minutes, which by default, meant failing to adapt to the Italian system.
In Russia, Hendrix revived his brand, doubled his scoring averages, and tripled his European competition statistics. For Kuban's defensive anchor, winning the Eurocup title was simply the icing on the cake.
Michael Fusek (221-C-95, agency: Octagon Europe) has exploded in the Euromillions Basketball League. Recently becoming a MVP in the win against Basic Fit Brussels. Fusek made 11 points (4/5), 8 rebounds, 18 of evaluation in 21 min. Last Saturday, the Slovak center scored 13 points (5/7) and grabbed 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Michael Fusek took a giant step forward with Proximus Spirou Charleroi by making solid numbers. His great mobility for a player his size and very effective shots a... [read more]
Michael Fusek (221-C-95, agency: Octagon Europe) has exploded in the Euromillions Basketball League. Recently becoming a MVP in the win against Basic Fit Brussels. Fusek made 11 points (4/5), 8 rebounds, 18 of evaluation in 21 min.
Last Saturday, the Slovak center scored 13 points (5/7) and grabbed 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.
His great mobility for a player his size and very effective shots allowed him to dominate last games in Belgium. When he combines those skills with his quickness, good hands and patience, Fusek can become one of the hardest big men to stop.
Fusek is also a great shot blocker, ranks first with 4 blocks per 40 min, due to his incredible height and decent timing.
Fusek averages 15.5 points and 12.25 rebounds per 40 min in Belgium
Eurobasket.com All-EuroCup Awards 2017 - 17 days ago
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Player of the Year:Alexey Shved(198-G-88) of Khimky Guard of the Year:Alexey Shved(198-G-88) of Khimky Forward of the Year:Dejan Musli(213-F/C-91) of Unicaja Center of the Year:Bojan Dubljevic(205-PF-91) of Valencia European Player of the Year:Alexey Shved(198-G-88) of Khimky Import of the Year:Mardy Collins(198-G-84) of Lokomotiv Rising Star Trophy:Rolands Smits(207-F/C-95) of Fuenlabrada Defensive Player of the Year:Facundo Campazzo(181-PG-91) of UCAM Murcia Coach of the Year:Pedro Mart... [read more]
Unicaja shock Valencia, capture title - 18 days ago
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Valencia - Unicaja 58-63 Unicaja are 2017 EuroCup champions! The Malaga team used a massive 18-0 run in the fourth quarter to shock hosting Valencia and celebrate first ever tournament title. Valencia stayed in charge in the first period. They grabbed a 22:18 lead ten minutes into the game. Unicaja pulled within 3 points at halftime 30:33. Valencia were back in full control in the third term. The hosts piled up a 54:43 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. But Unicaja turned the tab... [read more]
Unicaja are 2017 EuroCup champions! The Malaga team used a massive 18-0 run in the fourth quarter to shock hosting Valencia and celebrate first ever tournament title. Valencia stayed in charge in the first period. They grabbed a 22:18 lead ten minutes into the game. Unicaja pulled within 3 points at halftime 30:33. Valencia were back in full control in the third term. The hosts piled up a 54:43 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. But Unicaja turned the tables in the fourth period and raced to a historic success. Great defensive blocking was one of the keys in this match when Unicaja Malaga made 8 blocks. 24 personal fouls committed by Valencia Basket helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. It was a great evening for American forward Jeffrey Brooks (203-89, college: Penn St.) who led his team to a victory scoring 9 points and 5 rebounds. Point guard Alberto Diaz (188-94) helped adding 12 points. The best for the losing side was Montenegrin Bojan Dubljevic (205-91, agency: BeoBasket) with 16 points and 6 rebounds and Belgian point guard Sam Van-Rossom (188-86) scored 6 points and 4 assists. Top scorers: Valencia: B.Dubljevic 16+6reb+1ast, J.Sastre Morro 8+1reb+2ast, F.San Emeterio 7+3reb, W.Thomas 6+1reb, S.Van Rossom 6+4reb+4ast, R.Sato 5+5reb Unicaja: A.Diaz 12+2ast, J.Smith 10+1reb+3ast, D.Diez 9+3reb, J.Brooks 9+5reb+1ast, A.Omic 8+3reb, N.Nedovic 6+2reb+4ast
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