Kiwis in Europe

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During the next few months Laceylowdown will be keeping an eye on the performances of our Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns playing overseas. To date seven Tall Blacks and six Tall Ferns have secured full time contracts for the 2015-16 season. Eight players will be suiting up in Australia but in this article we focus on the three Tall Blacks and two Tall Ferns playing the next season in Europe

Isaac Fotu will once again play in Liga Endesa, Spain, regarded by most basketball pundits as the premier competition outside of the NBA. Fotu has returned to CAI Zaragoza the club that initially signed him last season before he was loaned out to La Bruixa d’Or Manresa.

Fotu enjoyed a fine debut season averaging 10.4ppg and 4.0 rebounds for Manresa. Following a successful recent Tall Blacks campaign Fotu will be looking to establish himself as a starter in the Zaragoza lineup.

Zaragoza narrowly missed the Spanish league play-offs last season finishing ninth on the table but did secure a place in the Eurocup. They are in Group C in Europe alongside fellow Spanish side Valencia and Nancy (France), Ratiopharm (Germany), Spirou (Belgium) and Umana (Italy).

Zaragoza have a tough season opener on October 11th travelling to traditional powerhouse Barcelona, last season’s beaten finalists. Fotu dropped 20 points against Barcelona last season; a repeat performance would impress the Zaragoza faithful.

Rob Loe, like Fotu in his second professional season, has moved west across Europe linking with Limburg United in the Belgium league. Last season Loe played for KAO Dramas in the Greek league averaging 7.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Limburg were newcomers to the Belgium league last season finishing with a creditable 16-14 record before elimination in the quarter finals. Loe and his colleagues visit Kangoeroes for the opening game of the season on October 3rd. One imagines Kangoeroes will be looking to jump on the visitors early in the game!!

From the sporting trivia file it is interesting to note that Limburg coach Brian Lynch is married to former Belgian tennis great Kim Clijsters.

Benny ‘BJ’ Anthony hadn’t played a competitive game since rupturing his Achilles tendon playing for the Adelaide 36ers against the Breakers in early January.

Anthony has since parted ways with the 36ers, missed the entire NZNBL season with the James Blond Supercity Rangers due to the injury, and recently headed to the UK to join up with Pymouth Raiders.

The Raiders began their British Basketball League season with a home tie against the London Lions on September 19th going down 79-69 with Anthony playing 28 minutes and contributing 12pts/7rebs/3assists.

The Raiders have an interesting roster with no fewer than six antipodeans on their books, one of those is former Breaker Daryl Corletto who top scored against London with 19 points. The others are former fringe Australian NBL players Bennie Lewis, Mike Vigor, Josh Wilcher and Auryn MacMillan. All reportedly have British parentage or grand parentage but it is unclear if all six can suit up in the same game – if they can it certainly isn’t doing much for the development of local talent in the UK.

Anthony has had a couple of previous stints in Europe but both were with German clubs – Herzoege Wolfenbuettel and Magdenburg

Just over the English Channel Erin Rooney will be embarking on her second season in the French League having transferred from Arras to Calais.

Rooney had presentable figures for Arras last season finishing with 7.3pts/4.3rebs/3.6 assists per game. The Cantabrians move looks something of a gamble as Calais finished dead last, winning just two games, in the 14 team French league last season.

Calais travel to Nantes for their opening game on September 26th.

Jillian Harmon, having won a WNBL title with Townsville Fire earlier this year, has been lured back to Italy to play for Le Mura Lucca in the upcoming season.

The twenty eight year old has enjoyed a good amount of success in Serie A playing her first five seasons as a professional in Italy before testing out the Australian League.

Lucca have been finalists in the Italian Super Cup for the past two seasons and begin their league campaign away against Umbertide on October 4th.

Next month we will be also be following the fortunes of our international players in Australia. Micaela Cocks, Chevannah Paalvast, Jess Bygate and Toni Edmondson will feature in the WNBL and Kirk Penney, Jarrod Kenny, Dion Prewster and Leon Henry will be suiting up for four different teams in the NBL.

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