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Today, the capital basketball players held their fourth match of VTB United League. BC Astana played away with the champion of Ukraine - BC...

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Steady player movement in July was accented by several big signings at the end of the month. Among those joining the VTB United League include a former Kobe Bryant back-up, an Italian Serie A star, a jewel from the Ukrainian Superleague, a Serbian giant and several more interesting players. We provide a recap of the most important free agent moves in the offseason’s second month.

Andrew Goudelock (pictured), Tywain McKee (UNICS)

Kazan gradually, but surely, has taken over the League spotlight this offseason. The roster is undergoing a full makeover, with new head coach Andre Trinchieri intent on assembling a young, talented squad, featuring versatile guards at the core. After Greek guard Nikos Zisis was signed, UNICS brought on two American guards – Tywain McKee and Andrew Goudelock. While little was made of the former Triumph player’s transfer, Goudelock’s signing was a shock. The 24-year-old American, drafted by the Lakers in 2011, had a great season in the D-League last year, averaging more than 20 points per game. The Lakers recognized Goudelock’s efforts by bringing him in to replace the injured Kobe Bryant at the end of the season. He did fairly well, averaging 12 points per game in three appearances. Who could have thought that the American would end up with UNICS this summer? We’ll have to wait until the fall, however, to find out if UNICS can shift the balance of power in the league.


Jeremy Chappell (pictured), Obi Trotter, Milovan Rakovic (Triumph)


Losing several key players during the offseason can undo any team, but Triumph aren’t likely to suffer that fate. In recent years, the Lyubertsy collective has made significant progress and, it seems, doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels. Its summer acquisitions, at the very least, underscore its growing ambitions.

The Moscow Region squad is praised for its ability to find diamonds in the rough, with Jeremy Chappell possibly the latest in a line of overachievers. The American spent the last three years in the Ukrainian league, which may explain the lack of interest in his services from the leading European teams. But he did consistently rank as one of the Superleague’s top players each season he spent there. Chappell, despite his lack of size and preference for the shooting guard position, is a very multi-faceted player. He can score, pass, rebound and steal the ball. His most recognizable quality, meanwhile, is his hard-nosed attitude on the court. He loves a challenge and is ferocious on defense. Given his versatile skill set, the Triumph newcomer is likely to become a team leader quickly. If he thrives in Lyubertsy, he may well be one of the VTB United League’s biggest surprises in 2013/14.

Another team newcomer, Obi Trotter, is well known to all. The American-Bulgarian, who suited up for Nizhny Novgorod last season, is known for his persistence on defense, ability to drive to the basket and decent shot. He’s never been an excellent passer, someone limiting his potential, but he makes up for it with effort. Triumph can definitely use someone like him. 

Another Moscow Region arrival – Serbian giant Milovan Rakovic – is well known in Russia from his previous stints with Spartak and Zalgiris. He spent last season at Bilbao (Spain). At Triumph Rakovic will make a solid duo with fellow big man Kyle Landry. They’ll be able to cover each other under the basket, fight for every loose ball and create an impenetrable wall in the paint. Lyubertsy fans have long awaited a player like this.



Milenko Tepic (Lietuvos Rytas)

Last season Vilnius had serious issues at point guard – they needed a guard that could direct the offense properly and make the right decisions on the spot. Milenko Tepic is well-suited for that role. The 26-year-old guard, formerly with Partizan, Panathinaikos and Cajasol, is a pass-first point guard, who cares most about getting his teammates involved. That’s why he earned so much praise from Serbian coach Dusan Ivkovic, with whom he won silver at the 2009 EuroBasket. Tepic arrived at Lietuvos Rytas in order to get more playing time than he did with Pao or Cajasol. With Vilnius’s young team, he could very well become one of the leaders.



Mike Green (Khimki)


Moscow Region lost several of its key players this summer, including playmaker Zoran Planinic. Mike Green was invited to join the Yellow and Blue, in order to replace the Croatian point guard, who joined Turkish club Anadolu Efes. The American played brilliantly last season for upstart Italian team Varese. Upon signing Green, Khimki general director Pavel Astakhov announced that the summer’s primary objective had been reached. All the same, there is some skepticism regarding the newcomer, and not even so much in his ability on the court. The major concern lies in Green’s lack of experience playing against elite competition. He’s appeared in just six games in the Eurocup, while with Cantu in 2010/11, where, along with the rest of his team, he failed to make an impact on the continental stage.


Cory Fisher (Enisey)


Krasnoyarsk managed to snag one of the top scorers from the Spanish league. Fisher is an explosive player. He’s focused on offense, absurdly confident in his shot and an attack-first player. At the same time, he’s not completely oblivious to his teammates – Fisher is superb executing the pick-n-roll.

Nonetheless, his fate at Enisey raises several questions. The American needs to be allowed to play his brand of basketball, and if an effort is made to rein him in, Cory might grow disenchanted, with his pluses turning to minuses.


Antywane Robinson (VEF)


Two ex-Brindisi players have joined the VTB United League, Scottie Reynolds and Antywane Robinson. Though the Italian club struggled last season, Antywane Robinson shone individually. The American even earned an invitation to the Serie A all-star game. That’s not surprising, given that the forward already has experience at the top level of European basketball. While with French club Chalon, Robinson competed in both the Eurocup and Euroleague, and had a significant impact. VEF has acquired an experienced and skilled big man in Robinson, who should be able to replace Kaspars Berzins.


Coleman Collins (pictured) and Daniel Kickert (Azovmash)


Mariupol picked up two solid international players in July. Coleman Collins’s European career is on the uptick. After an initial stint in Germany, the center spent last season with talented French club Roanne, where he was able to display his explosiveness, mobility, rebounding ability and offensive acumen in the pick-n-roll. It’s a bonus that new Azovmash point guard, Derrick Low, enjoys running that combination. 

He’ll be helped by another team newcomer Daniel Kickert. The forward spent several years honing his long-range shooting, reaching an impressive 45% mark from beyond the arc last season. The Australian spent most of last season with Dnepr, alongside Low. It’s safe to say they’re already comfortable playing with one another and will present a dangerous combination on offense.


Marco Killingsworth (pictured), Bernard King and Ben McCauley (Donetsk)


The Ukrainian club’s offseason moves have been unfortunate, to say the least, over the last two years. Last summer, Donetsk made numerous big acquisitions, but underwhelmed all season long. This summer, Donetsk has curbed its expenditures, choosing to rely on home-grown talent, halving the number of foreigners on the roster. Donetsk will have just three internationals at its disposal this season. Oleksiy Yefimov announced their arrival just recently – a trio of Americans – Marco KillingsworthBernard King and Ben McCauley. They fit with the club budget, and, while not as famous as last season’s signings – Doron Perkins and Darius Songaila – they know how to perform. Killingsworth was the sixth-leading scorer in Israel last season, King led France in assists, while McCauley was voted the top center in the Polish league.
Petr Gubanov (Nizhny Novgorod)


Petr Gubanov has been considered an up-and-coming player for several years now. So far, however, he hasn’t been able to live up to his early billing. Nizhny Novgorod has offered him another chance to change that. Only time will tell how successful that attempt will be, but for now we can already expect that life will not be easy for Gubanov on the banks of the Volga. Head coach Zoran Lukic is used to squeezing everything he can out of his players. Plus, Petr must take over for the departed Artem Yakovenko. Yakovenko was a key player for Nizhny Novgorod for several years, so the expectations surrounding Gubanov’s arrival will be accordingly heightened. 

Scottie Reynolds (Nymburk)


The Czech club’s first foreign signing under new coach Kestutis Kemzura is American combo guard Scottie Reynolds. We’ll see how the move pans out. Despite his young age, he’s already managed to play in the USA, Dominican Republic and Europe. But he hasn’t been able to latch on anywhere. He did have a successful half season with Turkish club Antalya. After that, however, he was just mediocre playing in the Italian league. Though a team leader for Brindisi, he was primarily asked to distribute the ball. Among his strengths are his versatility, ability to score, athleticism and explosive drives to the basket.


Olaseni Lawal (Astana)

The Nigerian center is athletic, a solid rebounder and excellent defender. Prior to this, Lawalplayed in the Qataria, Spanish and Italian leagues. With his most recent team, Tezenis Verona, Lawal averaged 10.7 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. Don’t expect any scoring records or game-winning shots, but Astana have definitely picked up an experienced post player in Lawal, who will strengthen the team’s play under the basket.



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