In his first season playing in Europe, 25-year old point guard Willie Kemp (188-G-87, college: Memphis) is off to a tremendous start both in the Czech NBL and Slovak Extraliga. He is tied for the NBL league lead at 20.0 points per game after two rounds and has helped Astrum Levice to a 2-0 record in the Extraliga. Kemp played collegiality at the University of Memphis where in between being a part-time starter his freshman and senior seasons, was part of a historic 2007-08 season which saw his Tigers reach the NCAA Championship Game. After playing professionally in the NBA D-League in the USA and then last season in Tunisia, Kemp took some time to share his thoughts on playing for Levice, his journey here and what his expectations are for the season.
Q.What have been your first impressions about Levice, Slovakia so far?
A.It has been great here in Levice so far. The fans are awesome and everybody loves basketball here.
Q.Most fans do not know much about basketball in Tunisia, where you played last season. How did you end up there and what was the experience like?
A.I ended up in Tunisia because I was going to go back to the NBA-D League for a second season but I changed my mind at the last minute. Most jobs in Europe were taken by the time I had made my decision. But the experience was amazing, we traveled to Europe and Morocco to play some good teams. Also, it was a great experience for me to be a leader on another championship team.
Q.Going back to your time at Memphis, you were part of a historic and also controversial 2007-08 Tigers team which reached the NCAA Finals. As a player going through the high of reaching the Finals, but then having to deal with the scrutiny of the NCAA investigations, how did it affect you and your teammates?
A.Playing on the 2007-2008 team at Memphis was something special to be apart of. That team was very talented and amazing as a group. We won a lot of games and making it to the National Championship game is something nobody can ever take away from me and my teammates. When the NCAA started to investigate our team it was very difficult because that's all people wanted to talk about when they see you out somewhere. But, me and my teammates stuck together like we did all season and we knew as a team we didn't break any rules.
Q.What was the most memorable moment of that 2007-08 season for you personally?
A.I had a lot of great memories from the 2007-2008 team. One memory that sticks out is when we played Mississippi State in the NCAA tournament and I stepped up and hit four big three's to help us win and move on in the tournament. Another one, is playing in the National Championship game playing in front of 80,000 people was something special. Another memory was playing with Derrick Rose, he was a great player and I learned a lot from him.
Q.What were some of the positive aspects of playing in the NBA D-League your rookie season?
A.Playing in the NBA D-League my first season was a great experience for me. I played against some good players there. Not only did the D League teach me some things about basketball, it also helped me learn how to be a professional basketball player personally.
Q.So far this season you have gotten off to a terrific start for Levice, what has been the key to your and the teams success?
A.We have just been playing as a team and trying to get better every game and every practice. Our coaching staff does a great job on making us work hard in practice. I know I am 100% dedicated to winning a championship and my teammates are as well. You practice how you play!
Q.You also are in a situation unlike any other team, playing both in the Czech NBL and the Slovakian Extraliga. What is that like? Do you have to change your approach to preparation?
A.Playing in two different leagues is something I haven't done before. The most important thing I have to do is take care of my body and eat right. Playing 60 games is a lot, but if I can do those two things I will be okay.
A.Fans should know that I love to win and I'm a winner. I love playing the game of Basketball. I am blessed with the chance to play basketball professionally and I do not take that for granted. I hope that my hard work on and off the court shows that. Levice has been great thus far; and I'm willing to do anything to help our basketball team win games this season.
Extraliga Round 4 of Finals. Inter Bratislava even title series - May 22, 2013
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Inter Bratislava - Komarno 97-95 OT
Inter Bratislava outlasted Komarno in overtime to record the second consecutive victory in the championship series. Komarno was trailing by 5 points at halftime but managed to get 1-point lead after three quarters before a 21-20 charge of Inter Bratislava, which allowed them to tie the game at the end of regular time. They were better in overtime eventually winning that period 14-12 [read more]
Inter Bratislava outlasted Komarno in overtime to record the second consecutive victory in the championship series. Komarno was trailing by 5 points at halftime but managed to get 1-point lead after three quarters before a 21-20 charge of Inter Bratislava, which allowed them to tie the game at the end of regular time. They were better in overtime eventually winning that period 14-12. Worth to mention a great performance of American forward Alando Tucker (198-84, college: Wisconsin, agency: Priority Sports) who helped to win the game recording 33 points (!!!) and 8 rebounds and the former international power forward Martin Rancik (204-78, college: Iowa St.) who added 25 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists during the contest. At the losing side American forward Amin Stevens (201-90, college: Florida A&M) responded with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists and his fellow American import forward Kevin Thompson (205-89, college: Morgan St.) produced a double-double by scoring 14 points and 11 rebounds. Five Komarno players scored in double figures. Top scorers: Inter Bratislava: A.Tucker 33+8reb+1ast, M.Rancik 25+10reb+4ast, N.Delic 15+4reb+1ast, N.Milosevic 9+2reb+5ast, P.Sedmak 7+4reb, J.Graham 5+7reb+4ast Komarno: A.Stevens 21+9reb+4ast, C.Lowe 18+4ast, V.Simpson 18+2reb+3ast, K.Thompson 14+11reb+1ast, J.Kratochvil 10+6reb+2ast, M.Kozlik 6+1reb
Anton Gavel selected the top Slovakian playing abroad in last week's games - May 20, 2013
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Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of Slovakians who are currently playing abroad. This week's number one is an international point guard Anton Gavel (188-84, agency: Pro One Sports). He led Brose Baskets Bamberg to a victory over the seventh-ranked Phoenix Hagen in the German BBL in Sunday night's game.
Traditionally, every week we bring you a list of the top performances of Slovakians who are currently playing abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an international point guard Anton Gavel (188-84, agency: Pro One Sports, currently plays in Germany). He led Brose Baskets Bamberg to a victory over the seventh-ranked Phoenix Hagen (18-16) 104-94 in the German BBL in Sunday night's game.
Gavel was MVP of the game. He scored 26 points (!!!) and added 6 assists in 34 minutes on the court.
Brose Baskets Bamberg (26-8) is placed first in the BBL.
It's Gavel's fourth season with the team.
Gavel is ranked seventh on the list of the top scorers in the league with 15.0ppg.
He also averaged so far 2.8rpg, 3.5apg, 2FGP: 57.0%(98-172), 3FGP: 46.0%(81-176) and FT: 74.3% in the 36 games he played so far.
Gavel has a dual citizenship: Slovakian and German.
He is currently a member of the Slovakian senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to an international small forward Dusan Pandula (196-84, currently plays in Czech Republic). Pandula was the main contributor in a BK Prostejov's victory against the third-ranked NH Ostrava (20-14) 81-77 in the Czech Republic NBL last Wednesday.
He was the best player in that game. Pandula scored 25 points.
It was the game of the round between two top 3 ranked teams in Group A1. BK Prostejov (21-13) is placed second.
Pandula has relatively good stats this season: 12.8ppg, 4.6rpg, 2.2apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 63.4%(149-235), 3FGP: 37.8% and FT: 74.6%.
He is in the roster of the Slovakian senior national team.
#3. The Slovakian player who performed third best last week abroad was an experienced former international power forward Radoslav Rancik (207-79, agency: Beo Basket, college: St.Cloud St., currently plays in Czech Republic). Rancik contributed to an easy victory against the fifth-ranked BK Pardubice (19-15) crushing them 90-57 in the Czech Republic NBL on Tuesday night.
He scored 11 points, had 5 rebounds and dished 4 assists in 23 minutes.
CEZ Basketball Nymburk (33-1) is placed first in Group A1.
It was his team's eighth consecutive victory in a row.
This year Rancik has relatively solid stats: 12.9ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.9apg, 2FGP: 58.8%(104-177), 3FGP: 36.5% and FT: 86.1% in the 33 games.
Former BK Inter Bratislava starter played for the Slovakian national team three years ago.
#4. Shooting guard Roman Marko (194-86, currently plays in Czech Republic) is a teammate of previously mentioned Dusan Pandula and both played together in the last Czech Republic NBL game.
Marko contributed to a BK Prostejov's victory against the third-ranked NH Ostrava (20-14) 81-77.
He scored 13 points, had 5 rebounds and dished 3 assists.
Marko has reliable stats this season: 10.2ppg, 4.3rpg, 2.6apg and 1.3spg.
He is another player who holds two passports: Slovakian and Czech Republic.
Marko is also Slovakian national team player.
Extraliga Round 3 of Finals. Inter narrow the deficit - May 18, 2013
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Komarno - Inter Bratislava 82-89
Inter Bratislava snatched a road win over Komarno to narrow the deficit at 1-2 in the championship series. The guests trailed by 8 points after first quarter, but they rallied back and won the game by 7 points. 30 personal fouls committed by Komarno helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities [read more]
Inter Bratislava snatched a road win over Komarno to narrow the deficit at 1-2 in the championship series. The guests trailed by 8 points after first quarter, but they rallied back and won the game by 7 points. 30 personal fouls committed by Komarno helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. It was a great evening for American forward Alando Tucker (198-84, college: Wisconsin, agency: Priority Sports) who led his team to a victory with a double-double by scoring 21 points and 13 rebounds. The former international power forward Martin Rancik (204-78, college: Iowa St.) helped adding 15 points and 8 rebounds. The best for the losing side was American forward Amin Stevens (201-90, college: Florida A&M) with 26 points and 8 rebounds and the other American import point guard Chris Lowe (182-87, college: Massachusetts, agency: KMG Sports Management) scored 13 points and 5 rebounds. Five Inter Bratislava and four Komarno players scored in double figures. Komarno's coach Frantisek Ron rotated ten players in this game, but that didn't help. Top scorers: Komarno: A.Stevens 26+8reb+3ast, C.Lowe 13+5reb+3ast, M.Bilik 11+7reb+1ast, K.Thompson 11+10reb, M.Kozlik 6+2reb+2ast, V.Simpson 5+2reb+6ast Inter Bratislava: A.Tucker 21+13reb+3ast, M.Garnett 18+1reb+1ast, M.Rancik 15+8reb+2ast, P.Sedmak 14+5reb+1ast, N.Delic 11+4reb+2ast, R.Skibniewski 5+6ast
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