On September 2, 2011, Los Angeles native guard Marcus Williams' basketball career was threatened without warning.
The former UConn stud and first round pick in the 2006 NBA draft was just three days into his new Russian contract when Kazan's physical identified a heart tumor. Williams immediately returned to the United States to undergo surgery, keeping him off the hardwood for over three months.
Williams had just capped a noteworthy season with Russian Enisey, averaging 15.3 points and finishing first in the league in assists with 6.8 per game.
Once receiving his worrying medical results, Williams contemplated the worst and began to reminisce about the highlights of his career, such as winning the 2004 NCAA title, being selected 22nd overall by the New Jersey Nets and playing in the Rookies All-Star Game. He also recalled being chosen to play in the Puerto Rican league's All-Star game, earning both the game's MVP and the Skills Contest awards.
It was on the flight home that Williams told himself "I'm sick of asking 'why' to certain things. I just continue to roll with the punches." He was convinced that it didnt matter where he played basketball, as long as he got one more shot to hoop.
Behind an encouraging 25-game comeback in China, Williams pursued a deal that would resurrect his career. The NBA, by the way, wasn't in the cards.
"There was some NBA talk over the summer. I had some camp invites but I never thought about going because I didn't want to do the NBA thing this year. I wanted to play more than anything," Williams told Eurobasket from his luxury patio overlooking the Mediterranean in Malaga, Spain. "Going to the NBA, I would have maybe been a second guard, for sure a third guard on some team and I know I can play basketball -- doing so at a high level was my ultimate goal," he added.
Throughout his rehab process, Williams gained 20-plus pounds of body fat, increasing his weight to 230 pounds, resembling a somewhat taller, non-muscular version of free agent NBA guard Derek Fisher.
Last summer, Williams was determined to get back into shape and like any other off-season, he played for the "L.A. Unified" squad in Los Angeles' famous pro-am Drew League. In July, he participated in a number of vigorous private workouts for European teams.
"It's funny," Williams recalled while looking back on how he was scouted by Spanish Unicaja Malaga. "Our General Manager told someone from my agency that they were on the lookout for a point guard and that they would stop through L.A. on their way to the NBA Summer League. They came to a few workouts, saw me play, and that was it. They were the first team to approach me," the 26-year-old guard said.
Later that month, Malaga's Croatian coach Jasmin Repesaleft Williams with a very detailed to-do list before giving team officials the green light to sign the 6-foot-3 guard to a two-year contract.
" (Repesa) has been on my case before I even signed with Malaga. We spoke on the phone many times and he was strict about wanting me to lose my body fat, lose weight, and get into game shape early," the 211-pound healthy Williams revealed.
"I told him I'm willing to do whatever it takes, and though (Repesa) rarely allows us to get comfortable, (Repesa)'s very open minded and trusts us to make the right plays. I'm glad I was able to step in up."
With seven weeks into the Euroleague season, Williams, a Euroleague rookie, is fully recovered and is playing the best ball of his career. He's averaging 11.1 points shooting 41% from beyond the arc and is ranked third in the competition in made 3-pointers (18), leading his team to the Top 16 round with six consecutive victories. Williams also records 3.3 rebounds and 3.6 dimes in just 21 minutes of action.
Head coach of CSKA, Ettore Messina , mentioned after the victory over Krasnye Krylia at the fourth match of this quarter finals series for the VTB Championship, that his players had a very good offensive game in comparison to the previous game.
It was a complicated match, especially taking into account our performance in the previous match and the fact that we have lost Sonny Weems in addition to Milos Teodosic, - said Messina in CSKA's official site [read more]
Head coach of CSKA, Ettore Messina , mentioned after the victory over Krasnye Krylia at the fourth match of this quarter finals series for the VTB Championship, that his players had a very good offensive game in comparison to the previous game. It was a complicated match, especially taking into account our performance in the previous match and the fact that we have lost Sonny Weems in addition to Milos Teodosic, - said Messina in CSKA's official site. We were able not only to protect the ball but also to improve our offence by moving the ball well, took the lead and controlled the game. I congratulate "Krasnye Krylia" on the completion of a good season, as we start preparing for the semi-final series against "Khimki."
Universitet-Yugra wins Superleague Final Game 1 - May 21, 2013
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Avtodor - Ataman 99-91
It looked good early as Ataman took an 1-point lead at the end of first quarter. But then Avtodor had a 27-20 second period charge getting the lead and Ataman was not able to take back game control losing it eventually 91-99. Ataman was plagued by 26 personal fouls down the stretch [read more]
It looked good early as Ataman took an 1-point lead at the end of first quarter. But then Avtodor had a 27-20 second period charge getting the lead and Ataman was not able to take back game control losing it eventually 91-99. Ataman was plagued by 26 personal fouls down the stretch. American-Ukrainian guard Steven Burtt (185-84, college: Iona, agency: Stanislav Ryzhov) nailed 39 points (!!!), 5 assists and 4 steals for the winning side and point guard Ivan Strebkov (192-91) accounted for 9 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists. Center Alexey Kurtsevich (209-89) came up with 17 points and 5 rebounds and point guard Andrey Mateyunas (180-88) added 11 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists respectively for Ataman in the defeat. Five Ataman players scored in double figures. Both coaches tested many bench players and allowed the starting five to rest. Top scorers: Avtodor: S.Burtt 39+2reb+5ast, A.Klimenko 12+7reb+2ast, S.Toropov 12+5reb, A.Zaykin 9+1reb, I.Strebkov 9+6reb+9ast, H.Rollins 7+7reb Ataman: A.Kurtsevich 17+5reb+1ast, A.Burtsev 14+6reb+1ast, P.Agapov 13+1reb, D.Zagnoyko 12+2reb+5ast, D.Beliaev 12+6reb+2ast, A.Mateyunas 11+6reb+6ast
The hosts were tied at the half but managed to speed up in last two quarters eventually winning the game. Universitet-Yugra made 20-of-25 free shots (80.0 percent) during the game. 24 personal fouls committed by Ural Ekaterinburg helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. Lithuanian point guard Linas Lekavicius (186-84, college: American) stepped up with a double-double by scoring 14 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists for the winners and guard Anton Ageev (192-84) chipped in 21 points (made all of his eight free throws). At the losing side American power forward Aaron McGhee (203-79, college: Oklahoma) responded with 30 points and 7 rebounds and point guard Anton Glazunov (182-86) scored 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Both teams had four players each who scored in double figures. Both coaches used bench players which allowed the starters a little rest for the next games. Top scorers: Univ.Surgut: A.Ageev 21+4reb+1ast, D.Hloponin 18+2ast, I.Aleksandrov 14+3reb, L.Lekavicius 14+12reb+9ast, A.Savenkov 7+13reb+6ast, A.Rindin 4+1reb Ural Ekaterinb.: A.McGhee 30+7reb, C.Monroe 14+3reb+5ast, D.Arteshin 12, A.Glazunov 12+7reb+4ast, O.Baranov 6+5reb+2ast, M.Tkachenko 2+1reb
VTB League: CSKA shot down Krasnie Krilya in Samara to clinch the semifinal appearance - May 20, 2013
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Krasnie Krilya - CSKA 56:69
CSKA shot down Krasnie Krilya in Samara to clinch the semifinal appearance. The Russian Champion posted a 69:56 win for 3-1 victory in the series.
The game was mostly controlled by CSKA Moscow. Krasnie Krilya managed to win fourth quarter 19-18. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. They dominated on the defensive end, holding Krasnie Krilya to just 7 points in first quarter [read more]
Krasnie Krilya - CSKA 56:69
CSKA shot down Krasnie Krilya in Samara to clinch the semifinal appearance. The Russian Champion posted a 69:56 win for 3-1 victory in the series. The game was mostly controlled by CSKA Moscow. Krasnie Krilya managed to win fourth quarter 19-18. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. They dominated on the defensive end, holding Krasnie Krilya to just 7 points in first quarter. Nenad Krstic (212-C-83) fired 16 points and 8 rebounds for the winners. Vladimir Vladimir Micov (201-F-85, agency: Beo Basket) chipped in 18 points and 6 rebounds. Aaron Jackson (190-G-86, college: Duquesne) collected 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Sasha Kaun (211-C-85) delivered 9. Aaron Miles (186-PG-83, college: Kansas) produced 9 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists and Andre Smith (203-F-85, college: N.Dakota St.) added 11 points and 5 rebounds respectively for lost side. Krasnie Krilya's coach Sergey Bazarevich rotated ten players in this game, but that didn't help.
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