Hey it's Tuesday (now Wednesday). Do you know what that means? I bet not. It means it is time to get caught up on all your international basketball news. Yep, that's right. I'll be here every Tuesday giving you an update on our Spurs abroad. Tops on the list is Tiago Splitter. The next two men of interest are James Gist, aka G.I.S.T; and Nando De Colo, aka SpurNando. Of all the guys involved/related to the Spurs, they are the most likely to be in a Spurs uniform.
There are an additional set of guys that I have an interest in following. Robertas Javtokas, 2001 second round pick by the Spurs. He played with Moscow Dynamo last year. I haven't figured out where he is this year. 2004 second round pick Sergei Karaulov. I haven't found him yet either. Eric Dawson, who spent the last two years with the Austin Toros and logged a DNP-CD in each game for the Spurs Summer League team, is playing in Japan for Mistubishi Diamond Dolphins. The Spurs don't own his rights and I doubt there is much of a chance of us ever seeing him in a Spurs uniform. I like Eric though and want to keep an eye on him. Plus, Pop gave him a nice slap on the back and talked to him after the Summer League, so I figure he likes him. And that's good enough for me.
European basketball is structured just a bit differently than the NBA. All European teams are in a domestic league. There are LOTS of domestic leagues. The best domestic league is the Spanish ACB. The domestic leagues play one game per week on the weekend. The better teams from the domestic leagues also play in various Euro leagues. There are 3 (I think) right now. EuroLeague, EuroCup, and EuroChallenge. The teams play their Euro league games mid-week
Tiago will be with the Spurs next season. You can take that to the bank. I'll give you my reasons next week. He's playing for the same team in the Spanish ACB league that he has always played for. The team changed names though. It used to be Tau Ceramica. Now, it is Caja Laboral. They kick off their season this Sunday morning at 5:30 (Spurs time) against CB Murcia. CB Murcia is a lower-tier team in the ACB. Caja Laboral is also playing in the Euroleague. Their Euroleague seaons gets started Thursday, October 22nd vs Virtus Roma. Euroleague is the highest level of competition after the NBA.
Caja Laboral is playing Group C which is LOADED. It has Caja, CSKA Moscow (perennial final four team), Maccabi Tel Aviv, Virtus Roma, Union Olimpija Llubljana, and some fodder to be determined in a qualifying round.
Nando De Colo
Nando is lacing them up for Valencia in the ACB as well. This recap of a Valencia preseason game calls SpurNando "Gran Protagonista". I think that is a good thing. He led his team with 15 points. In this other preseason game, he lead the team with 22. They kick off their regular season Sunday morning as well against Estudiantes.
Valencia is playing in a qualifying match to get into EuroCup. EuroCup is the league just below Euroleague. Valencia plays a home-and-away against Dexia Mons-Hainaut ( a French league team who just lost their coach to the Rio Grande Vipers. The Vipers are the Rockets D-League team) on October 20th and 27th. Valencia should be heavily favored to win this qualifying round and get into EuroCup.
I'm not sure where James is playing yet. It doesn't appear that he is back at Angelico Biella in the Italian league. They are now called Lauretana Biella and are also in the EuroCup.
Robertas Javtokas and Sergei Karaulov
Still don't know where they are.
Eric is playing with the Mistubishi Diamond Dolphins in Japan. They started their season last week with a pair of losses to the Aishin Sea Horses. They lost 80-65 and 85-71. Eric had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the opener and 18 points with 15 rebounds in game 2. He took 20 and 26 shots, respectively, so they are definitely allowing him to shoot. I haven't followed the Japan League before so I'll let you know anything interesting I find as I go. I'm fairly certain they are only allowed 2 non-Japanese players so they are pretty choosy about who they pay to play for them.
That's it for the opening salvo of the International Roundup. See you next week.