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Ex-Maroussi stars enjoying life abroad

20 Mar

Update on ex-Maroussi players:

Let’s start in Turkey. Frank Elegar scored 18 points and had 12 rebounds in Antalya‘s 92-82 upset victory over league leader Galatasaray on Saturday. He also had three blocks and three steals. In five games since leaving Maroussi, Elegar is averaging 10.8 ppg and 7 rpg. The Drexel alum’s teammates include Scottie Reynolds (30 ppg) and Corey Fisher (25 ppg), both of Villanova. Elegar is connecting on 75 percent of his shots from the field.

Yannis Gagaloudis

Moving southward to Cyprus, Yannis Gagaloudis‘s new team, Apollon Limassol, faces a must-win game tonight. The team is in the Cypriot League playoffs and down 2 games to 1 against Etha. Gagaloudis is averaging 20.5 points in the four games with available box scores (he also played in two other games). The veteran point guard scored 30 points in his debut on the island. Apollon won its first-round playoff series 2-0 over ENAD. Hmm, I wonder if his team gets bounced from the playoffs if he would be eligible to return to Maroussi (no idea what the contract issues/rules are). My guess is neither side would be interested because there are only two games left in Maroussi’s season.

In Italy, Nestoras Kommatos hasn’t had to worry about being his team’s top scorer. That’s Troy Bell‘s job. The Boston College alum is averaging 23 points per game. In three games for second-division Sant’Antimo, Kommatos is scoring 11 ppg and pulling down 7.7 rebounds per game. The 34-year-old was the Greek league’s top scorer (20 ppg). The Italian club recruited Kommatos to add some front court scoring in a bid to avoid relegation. He experienced his first victory Sunday (he left Maroussi when the team was still winless) against Biancoblu, 87-76.

Finally to France, where Dimitris Haritopoulos plays for ASVEL, the club that is partly owned by NBA star Tony Parker. The San Antonio Spurs guard played for ASVEL during the NBA lockout last autumn. In six games, Haritopoulos is averaging 7.5 points and 3 rebounds per game.

St. Patrick’s Day ‘All Irish’ Irish All Stars

15 Mar

Marty Conlon

I have serious business to discuss: the inaugural Kings of Maroussi “All Irish” Irish All Star team in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Before I do that, I want to get something off my chest. The “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame is an offensive nickname. We’re not belligerent people. So the next guy who tries to defend the nickname in my presence is getting a punch in the face.

The only “rule” to my Irish All Stars is they must have a connection to Maroussi. Let’s start with the front court. I was prepared to spend long days digging through dusty files at Maroussi team headquarters looking for some evidence of Irishmen. But then my mom said “Look on the Internet, ya eejit.”

Thanks Ma! Turns out two celebrated Irishmen played for Maroussi during the 2001-02 season. None other than Pat Burke and Marty Conlon. Yes, the same Mahhty Conl’n who played for the Boston Celtics (1996-97). The Celts went 15-67 that year. Irregahdless.

Burke averaged 14 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for Maroussi. The following year, he joined the Orlando Magic, becoming the first Irish-born player to play in the NBA (wiping tears from eyes as I write). He later played for the Phoenix Suns (2005-07). The 6-foot-11 center grew up in the United States.

The Bronx-born Conlon averaged 11 ppg and 6 rpg as Burke’s teammate in Maroussi, which made it to the Greek Cup final that season. The 6-foot-10 power forward came to Greece after playing nine seasons (that’s a lot) in the NBA. Both Conlon and Burke have captained the Irish National Team.

Let’s round out the front court with Patrick Fitzgerald O’Bryant Jr. The 7-footer played for the Celtics (2008-09), too. (Coulda’ben mayah with that friggin name!) The Maroussi connection? O’Bryant played in Greece this season for Kavala, which signed would-be Maroussi forward Travis Garrison after FIBA slapped a ban on Maroussi signing international transfers. Garrison was in Athens when the ban came down. For further Irish-O’Bryant reading, see this 2008 story from the Worcester T&G.

Technically, that’s two centers and a power forward, but who cares.

Ok, the back court is a little tricker. After an exhaustive analysis (Google search) to find an Irish connection to Zack Wright — O’Wright? — I came up empty. Ditto Dionte (Mc)Christmas and Nick “Seamus” Calathes. Marcus (O’)Hatten? Nope.

No worries. Bryan Mullins will handle the point guard duties. The pride of Southern Illinois University worked out for Celtics and the Chicago Bulls after the 2009 NBA draft. He now plays in France and has played for the Irish National team.

Jermaine Turner (photo: Scoring Factory)

Finally, did you think I’d forget Jermaine Turner? He averages 23 points and 18 rebounds per game for Killester in the Irish league. He grew up in NYC but married an Irish woman. They have two daughters and live in Ireland, where he also coaches.

Mullins and Turner know where Greece is on a map — lots of Americans don’t — so they get a waiver to join the team.

Billy Donovan will serve as player-coach. His tailored suit actually has a zipper down the side, and he’ll wear his uniform underneath. He will sink a bunch of 3-pointers, just like during his playing days at Providence College, where he was Conlon’s teammate for one season.

Erin Go Bragh!

Elegar wins in Turkey; Kommatos loses in Italy

27 Feb

Nestoras Kommatos

After suffering through a season-long losing streak in Maroussi, Nestoras Kommatos and Frank Elegar saw their first action with their new clubs this weekend. Elegar tasted victory in Turkey, while Kommatos’ squad lost in Italy.

Elegar, 25, had a strong game Saturday, helping Antalya to an 88-83 road upset over Erdemir. The Drexel alum started alongside Philadelphia pals Corey Fisher and Scottie Reynolds. Fisher and Reynolds were teammates at Villanova. Elegar and Fisher are old friends from the same neighborhood in the Bronx.

Elegar was in the starting lineup and finished with 11 points and a team-high 9 rebounds. Fisher scored 24 points; Reynolds 19.

There’s another Philly connection: Erdemir’s leading scorer was La Salle alum K’Zell Wesson, 34. He scored 21 points and had 9 rebounds.

Kommatos, who led the Greek league in scoring (20.4 ppg) when he skipped town last week, started for second-division Sant’Antimo yesterday. They lost 77-67 to Enel Brindisi. The 34-year-old scored just 4 points. He shot 1 of 6 from 3-point range. He had 10 rebounds and played 32 minutes.

Arrivederci: Kommatos to Italy

23 Feb

Nestoras Kommatos is taking his talents to Naples. The 34-year-old has signed a contract through the end of the season with second-division Sant’Antimo, the Italian team announced today.

It was just a matter of time, of course, because three Maroussi teammates, all of whom were starters, had left before him. Maroussi (0-17) is nearly broke and can barely pay its players. Sant’Antimo (6-13) is in last place and wants to avoid relegation next season.

Nestoras Kommatos

The Italians know Kommatos, who led the Greek league in scoring (20.4 ppg), will bring scoring punch to its frontcourt. The Greek forward shot 56 percent inside the 3-point line and 34.5 percent beyond it. Kommatos averaged 6.6 rebounds per game, good for seventh-best in Greece.

Kommatos is a two-time All Star in Greece and was having something of a resurgent season. He and point guard Yannis Gagaloudis helped make Maroussi a fun team to watch, even as they lost, sometimes in heartbreaking fashion. Gagaloudis, now in Cyprus, was the quick playmaker with a quick temper, while Kommatos was the quiet one, piling up points. Frank Elegar (see ‘Elegar signs with Turkish team’) dunked and blocked shots while Dimitris Haritopoulos (now in France) was the blue-collar power forward.

Two memories of Kommatos jump out to me. First was his 40-point night in Thessaloniki recently, when Gagaloudis was absent. He basically was the team’s only scoring threat but still found ways to get open and sink shots (including seven 3-pointers). Maroussi lost 86-82.

A heartbreaker for Maroussi fans was Jan. 7 at home to Drama. At that point, Maroussi was 0-10 and still had hopes of turning its season around, if only it could break into the win column.

Maroussi led by 12 points but Drama chipped away in the second half — that Jeremy Hunt can shoot; I see why Coach Cal reinstated him at Memphis in 2006. Down 75-74, Gagaloudis drove into the lane and missed. Might have been fouled. A scramble for the rebound sent the ball out of bounds under the basket. Maroussi retained possession with just over 1 second remaining.

Kommatos came around a screen, took the pass and went up to shoot from about 18 feet, near the baseline. His defender even slipped a bit, giving him a nice look at the basket. The ball skimmed over the rim, hit the far side of the rim, and bounced straight out. Buzzer. Game over. Kommatos fell backward and laid on the court in disbelief.

In Italy, Kommatos will work with another successful point guard, Troy Bell, 31. He’s averaging 23 ppg in five games for Sant’Antimo. Bell played at Boston College and was the 16th pick in the 2003 draft, taken by the Boston Celtics, who traded his rights to the Memphis Grizzlies in a deal that brought Kendrick Perkins to Boston.

Kommatos played briefly for Bologna in 2006. He’s also played in Turkey, Israel, Russia and Spain.

Elegar signs with Turkish team

23 Feb

Frank Elegar has signed with Antalya in Turkey’s top division, and it looks like an unofficial Bronx-and-Philly reunion.

Elegar, 25, was the lone import for financially troubled Maroussi. He averaged 9 points (59 percent from the field) and 5 rebounds per game from the center position but left about two weeks ago when the winless team told players that it ran out of money to pay salaries.

At Antalya, Elegar’s new teammates include fellow Bronx native Corey Fisher, 23. Both played their college ball in Philadelphia; Fisher for Villanova and Elegar for Drexel. Also on the roster is Scottie Reynolds, who was Fisher’s teammate at Villanova. Reynolds was cut by the Utah Jazz this pre-season.

Former Boston Celtics first round draft pick (11th overall in 2001) Kedrick Brown, 30, plays for Antalya (4-14), as well. Brown was traded to Cleveland in December 2003. He also played for the 76ers. He averaged 3.6 ppg in 143 NBA games spanning four seasons.

The Celtics also drafted Joseph Forte with the 21st pick in 2001. Among the players they passed on? Tony Parker, taken with the last pick of the first round by the San Antonio Spurs. Just sayin.

Elegar and Brown were teammates two years ago in Turkey when they played for Bornova Belediye.

Ex-Maroussi star nets 30 points in Cypriot debut

20 Feb

From the Kings of Maroussi International News Desk:

Two days after leaving Maroussi (0-17), Yannis Gagaloudis tasted victory on Sunday in Cyprus. He scored 30 points and handed out 6 assists to lead his new team, Apollon Limassol, to a 89-85 win over previously undefeated Keravnos in Cypriot League action. The veteran point guard started the game and played 34 minutes.

Yannis Gagaloudis

Hmm, sounds familiar … Jeremy Lin dazzled in his first start for the New York Knicks on February 6. They defeated the Utah Jazz 99-88.

The parallels don’t end there. Well, sort of. Lin isn’t prone to picking up technical fouls and I’m guessing he doesn’t smoke. Lin is also 10 years younger than the ex-Maroussi star.

Oh, and another thing: Lin only scored a measly 28 points in his debut as a starter on a new squad.

Gagaloudis and Maroussi parted ways Thursday. The next day, he was on a plane to Cyprus. Financially troubled Maroussi has barely been able to pay its players this season. Other players also skipped town.

Gagaloudis, 33, hit three 3-pointers and sank 13 of 15 free throws in his Cypriot debut.

Gagaloudis signs in Cyprus

17 Feb

Well, any slim hope Maroussi (0-17) had of winning a game this season just took a crushing blow. Yannis Gagaloudis, the team’s talented and hot-tempered point guard, left today for Cyprus to play for Appollon Limassol.

Yannis Gagaloudis

Gagaloudis led the Greek league in assists (6 per game) and was a top-10 scorer (15.6 ppg). He had a double-double (16 points 10 assists) in his final game, a 97-57 loss to Panionios on Wednesday evening.

The move was not a surprise. The 33-year-old recently told me that Maroussi’s financial situation — the team’s owner simply stopped paying players — was weighing on him. The team has been unable to sign imported players because of a FIBA ban, which resulted from Maroussi failing to pay a former player.

“Every day we come and we don’t know how many players we have,” Gagaloudis said.

Power forward Dimitris Haritopoulos was the first out the door. He’s playing in France. Frank Elegar was next. The American center is headed to Turkey, although he hasn’t signed a contract yet.

Now the countdown is on for Nestoras Kommatos, the league’s leading scorer (20.4 ppg). Like Gagaloudis, Kommatos has international experience, and has indicated he’s willing to leave.

Smart money is on Kommatos leaving before Maroussi’s next game, which is February 25 against Rethymno.

Maroussi now has just five professionals on its roster. It has been relying on amateurs from its junior team to eat up minutes.

Winning just got harder; merci Tony Parker

3 Feb

Maroussi’s hopes for a win or two this season took a blow on Jan. 30 when power forward and leading rebounder Dimitris Haritopoulos (6-9, 240) escaped transferred to French club ASVEL. Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs is a part-owner and played with the team during the NBA lockout. Haritopoulos is a lunchpail, in the paint hard worker. He averaged 12 points and his 7.6 rebounds per game was third-best in the league. He was playing 32 minutes per game as well. Maroussi hasn’t been able to pay its players full salaries — they’re getting about half, maybe a bit more, according to the club — so the team can’t stop players from leaving.

If there’s a bright side, it’s that Maroussi was thisclose to winning Jan. 7 against KAO Drama (75-74 final) with Haritopoulos on the bench in foul trouble for much of the game.

Of course, if center Frank Elegar leaves, too … it would get ugly. Elegar (6-9, 225) is averaging 9 points, 5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

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