Eurobasket had the pleasure of speaking with Andrais Thornton (203-C-85, college: NW Missouri St.), currently on a brief stopover in Estonia. The saavy international player had the chance to sit with us briefly and discuss his travels lately in Spain with Plasencia, in the LEB Silver.
EU: Dre, how have you found the season thus far?
AT: I have found it to be the most interesting of my career so far I never imagined that communication could influence the success of a team that much. I always thought, that basketball was a universal language.
I started training with a club here in Tallinn, then moved to Spain to play LEB. While in Spain, I witnessed something for the first time - the head coach was fired after four games into the season. I think he was a good coach but a lot of his tactics and philosophies werent as clear as they should have been. Some really important things got lost in translation. The second coach took over and changed everything. After trying to do things their way, I decided that this situation wasnt a good fit for me. The club and I decided that it was best for us to part ways.
EU: How would you map your progression from Germany to Estonia, then on to Portugal and now Spain this season? Any marked differences in the leagues?
AT: Ive had positive progress over the years. I have been fortunate enough to have coaches that are teachers of the game in each country. In Germany I learned the fundamentals of playing offense like a European player. Estonia, with its slower style of play, taught me to be more efficient and precise. Portugal showed me, that less is more meaning to be a successful and consistent player, all you need is a move to the left, a move to the right and a counter move in each direction. Playing the Spanish way, which is the fastest and most efficient style of play Ive experienced, magnified the fact that your balance and core strength can make you unguardable.
The biggest difference in all the leagues Ive played in, is the intensity level. In some countries the national players just play harder. The intensity was the highest in Spain because every team had several players that have played in the ACB.
EU: From your statistics, it is very clear that you had established yourself as the season progressed, playing your best basketball vs. the bigger clubs. Namely, your double double against Regal Barca with 14 pts 10 rebs and shotting 100% from the Free Throw line. How did the game in Spain differ from any of the other countries?
AT: The Spainsh way was more focused on set plays and playing faster in the half court. The offense I played in was mostly based on reads. If you set a pick, you need to know when to pop, roll, slip or hold. The offense was all reads and the style was to do it as fast as possible. When I was given an opportunity and when my number was called, I produced. Every player knows, that when you play against the biggest teams, then you have to push harder. If you are a competitor, then the name alone will get you going.
EU: Please outline for us briefly, what has brought you back to Estonia at this point in time and what's on the horizon for you in the very near future.
AT: Estonia is now my second home because of my Estonian life partner. I love living here - I enjoy the culture and I'm actively learning the very difficult Estonian language. Another deciding factor for me was, since I wished to play basketball in Europe, it's easier to stay here in case an opportunity opens up for me.
EU: With the second half of the season set to tip off, do you have any preferred destination?
AT: I dont have a preferred destination. Im humble and Im ready! I just want to play and finish the season strong.
EU: Having led the Estonian Champions League in scoring and rebounding in the past, what do you think about the league here in Estonia?
AT: I think the league here is solid. Like in other countries, there are typcial teams with big budgets and everybody else fighting for third. In Estonia, the young national players show a lot of promise. Because of this, in a couple of years, the league here will be more respected. Players like Martin Jurtom, Rauno Nurger, Janar Soo and Rannar Raap will make the league stronger, if they dont go abroad.
EU: It appears that your versatility is posing match-up problems for opponents being able to post up due to your size & strength, but also being able to shoot the ball 48% from the field and getting 70% from the free throw line. Is this going to allow you to help a club qualify for the playoffs and or win a title?
AT: I believe I can help a club with my ability to provide an inside/outside presence on offense and defense. Also, unlike the stereotypical American player, I can and want to play defense. My versatility on offense, my rebounding and defense are the three things that would enhance a clubs chance to make the playoffs and/or win the title.
EU: Anything to share or say to your family or fans back home in the US?
AT: To all my family and friends back home in the US: I Love you guys and I miss you.
To my fans: I am always amazed by the kind of support you show. I appreciate it a great deal to see the fans in the stands and the players on the court come and share their love for the game and feed off each others' energy. So I want to thank each fan who comes and cheers for me at basketball games - it gives us, the players, a huge boost to play our best!
EU: WE AT EUROBASKET WOULD LIKE TO THANK DRE THRONTON FOR CHATTING WITH US. WE ALSO WISH DRE A STRONG FINISH TO THE 2nd HALF OF THE SEASON & WE LOOK TO HEAR MORE GREAT THINGS FROM HIM IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE. BEST WISHES DRE!
Tokyo Cinq Reves sign Josiah Heath, ex TLU/Kalev - 21 hours ago
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Tokyo Cinq Reves (B League D3) signed 24-year old American power forward Josiah Heath (205-104kg-93, college: Canisius, agency: Inception Sports). He started the season at TLU/Kalev in Estonian Alexela KML. In four games he had 8.8ppg and 6.3rpg this season. Heath also played 1 game in FIBA Europe Cup where he recorded 4 points, 12 rebounds and 1 block. The last season he played at Aris Leeuwarden in Dutch Eredivisie. In 27 games he averaged 13.9ppg, 8.3rpg (#5 in the league) and 1.3spg.... [read more]
Tokyo Cinq Reves (B League D3) signed 24-year old American power forward Josiah Heath (205-104kg-93, college: Canisius, agency: Inception Sports). He started the season at TLU/Kalev in Estonian Alexela KML. In four games he had 8.8ppg and 6.3rpg this season. Heath also played 1 game in FIBA Europe Cup where he recorded 4 points, 12 rebounds and 1 block. The last season he played at Aris Leeuwarden in Dutch Eredivisie. In 27 games he averaged 13.9ppg, 8.3rpg (#5 in the league) and 1.3spg. A very impressive season as he was named to Eurobasket.com All-Dutch Eredivisie 2nd Team. Heath's team made it to the MAAC Tournament Semifinals in 2014. He graduated from Canisius College in 2015 and it is his second season as a professional player.
Siim-Sander Vene selected the top Estonian playing abroad in last week's games - 6 days ago
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Here is the weekly review of the top performing Estonian players, who play currently abroad. This week's number one is former international small forward Siim-Sander Vene (201-90). He could not help BC Nizhny Novgorod (1-2) in their last game. Despite Vene's very good performance BC Nizhny Novgorod was crushed 98-76 on the road by the higher-ranked (#9) Hapoel Jerusalem.
Here is the weekly review of the top performing Estonian players, who play currently abroad.
#1. This week's number one is former international small forward Siim-Sander Vene (201-90, currently plays in EuroCup). He could not help BC Nizhny Novgorod (1-2) in their last game. Despite Vene's very good performance BC Nizhny Novgorod was crushed 98-76 on the road by the higher-ranked (#9) Hapoel Jerusalem.
He was the second best scorer with 18 points. Vene also added 4 rebounds and dished 3 assists (was perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line) in 24 minutes on the court.
There are only three games left until the end of the Eurocup Second Stage. So now every game will be critical.
It's Vene's first season with the team.
He has relatively good stats this year: 10.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.0apg, 2FGP: 53.5%, 3FGP: 33.3% and FT: 75.0% in 11 games he played so far.
Vene played for the Estonian senior national team two years ago.
#2. Second place goes to an international forward Kristjan Kitsing (205-90, agency: Octagon Europe, currently plays in Denmark). He led Bakken to a victory over the closely-ranked Horsholm (8-8) 90-71 in the Danish Ligaen last Saturday.
Kitsing was MVP of the game. He recorded 19 points and added 3 assists.
It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. Bakken Bears (12-2) is placed second in the Ligaen.
This season Kitsing has relatively solid stats: 11.2ppg, 4.1rpg, 2FGP: 64.9%(24-37), 3FGP: 39.5%.
He is in the roster of the Estonian senior national team.
#3. The Estonian player who performed third best last week abroad was an experienced former international small forward Kristjan Kangur (201-82, currently plays in Basketball Champions League). Kangur contributed to an Openjobmetis VA's victory against the closely-ranked Rosa (3-10) 74-61 in the Basketball Champions League on Tuesday night.
He scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Openjobmetis Varese (3-9) is placed seventh in group C.
They ended the series of four consecutive loses.
There are only two games left until the end of the Basketball Champions League Regular Season. So now every game is very crucial.
This year Kangur averages: 4.7ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.1apg, 2FGP: 41.9%, 3FGP: 22.2% and FT: 73.9% in 13 games.
He played for the Estonian national team two years ago.
#4. Swingman Jaan Puidet (191-92, currently plays in Sweden) contributed to a KFUM Jamtland's victory against the closely-ranked Uppsala Basket (9-8) 98-88 in the Swedish Basketligan in Thursday night's game.
Puidet scored 13 points, had 8 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
KFUM Jamtland Basket (8-10) is placed seventh in the Basketligan.
It was his team's first victory after four consecutive loses.
Puidet's overall stats this season are: 7.9ppg, 5.1rpg and 1.3apg.
He is also Estonian national team player.
#5. International guard Tanel Kurbas (197-88, currently plays in Sweden) helped Sodertalje Kings win their game against the closely-ranked Boras Basket (11-8) 86-80 in the Swedish Basketligan last Saturday.
Kurbas scored 15 points and added 4 assists (went 6 for 6 at the free throw line) in 30 minutes.
Sodertalje Kings (9-5) is placed fifth in the Basketligan.
This year Kurbas' overall stats are: 10.0ppg, 2.5rpg and 1.3apg in 13 games.
He plays currently for the Estonian national team.
#6. Center Rauno Nurger (208-93, currently plays college basketball in the States) helped Wichita St. win their game against the University of Evansville (2-0) 82-65 in the NCAA on Tuesday night.
Nurger scored 12 points.
The Wichita State University has quite an impressive 5-1 conference record this season.
It was Wichita St.'s third consecutive victory in a row.
Nurger's total stats this season are: 5.6ppg and 3.1rpg.
He is a former international player as he played for the Estonian senior team two years ago.
#7. Former University international forward Maik-Kalev Kotsar (208-96, currently studies in the States) helped S.Carolina win their game against the The University of Mississippi (1-0) 67-56 in the NCAA in Saturday night's game.
Kotsar scored 6 points, had 6 rebounds and made 2 blocks in 16 minutes.
The University of South Carolina has 4-0 conference record this season.
So far his team won all four games in the conference.
This year Kotsar's total stats are: 7.2ppg and 5.5rpg in 18 games.
He used to play for the Estonian university national team
two years ago.
#8. Point guard Rait-Riivo Laane (179-93, currently plays in Greece) was the major contributor in Ethnikos' victory against the 13th-ranked Arkadikos (4-9) 96-94 in the Greek A2 (second division) last Saturday.
Laane scored 15 points and added 3 passes (was perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line).
Ethnikos Piraeus (8-5) is placed fifth in the A2.
Laane has averaged so far 9.5ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.0apg and 1.1spg.
He plays currently for the Estonian national team.
Estonian Alexela KML round 13 best performance: Dominykas Milka - 8 days ago
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Lithuanian Center Dominykas Milka (203-C-92) put on an extraordinary performance in the last round for second-ranked TU/Rock, receiving a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 13. The 24-year old player had a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds, while his team outclassed Tarvas (#7, 3-9) with 46-point margin 110-64. TU/Rock maintains the 2nd position in Estonian Alexela KML. They are still close to the very top. TU/Rock would have been even better if they kept winning t... [read more]
Lithuanian Center Dominykas Milka (203-C-92) put on an extraordinary performance in the last round for second-ranked TU/Rock, receiving a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 13. The 24-year old player had a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds, while his team outclassed Tarvas (#7, 3-9) with 46-point margin 110-64. TU/Rock maintains the 2nd position in Estonian Alexela KML. They are still close to the very top. TU/Rock would have been even better if they kept winning the games like in the last round. They have a solid 10-2 record. Milka turned to be TU/Rock's top player in his first season with the team. Former College of Saint Rose star has very solid stats this year. Milka is in league's top in rebounds (5th best: 8.3rpg) and averages impressive 55.6% FGP.
The second best player in last round's games was 23-year old Serbian Djordje Dzeletovic (205-C-93, agency: AproK Sports Group) of TLU/Kalev. Dzeletovic had a very good evening with 36 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists. Of course he led TLU/Kalev to another comfortable win outscoring slightly higher-ranked Valga (#6, 5-10) 99-78. TLU/Kalev's 8th position in the standings has not changed. 10 lost games are too many comparing to just three victories TLU/Kalev managed to get this year. Dzeletovic is one of the most experienced players at TLU/Kalev and has a reputation of one of team's most reliable players. He belongs to the best scorers in the league with 25.5ppg (#1). He also registered 6.5 boards per game.
Third on the list of top players last round was Latvian Ivars Rihards Zvigurs (198-SF-95) of Valga (#6). Zvigurs showcased his all-around game by recording 20 points, twelve rebounds (!!!) and six assists in the last round. Despite Zvigurs' great performance Valga lost 78-99 to slightly lower-ranked TLU/Kalev (#8, 3-10). But his team cannot count on just a single player as he also needs help of the other teammates. The chances of Valga not to end season at such low position in the league, however are less than slim as they have already lost 10 games, recording just five victories. With bigger assistance of his teammates, Zvigurs could try to bring Valga's a little bit higher in the standings. Zvigurs has a very solid season. In 15 games in Estonia he scored 13.1ppg. He also has 6.1rpg and FGP: 55.4%.
Other top performing players last week: 4. Joonas Jarvelainen (202-F/C-90) of TTU - 24 points and 11 rebounds 5. Mart Rosenthal (194-G-99) of TU/Rock - 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists 6. Saimon Sutt (200-F/G-95) of Parnu - 14 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists 7. Domagoj Bubalo (212-C-91) of Parnu - 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists 8. Martin Dorbek (194-G-91) of Kalev/Cramo - 21 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists 9. Janar Talts (206-PF-83) of TU/Rock - 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists 10. Renato Lindments (202-F-84) of Valga - 19 points and 5 rebounds
The Player of the week is chosen based on efficiency calculation, but also including game result, importance of the game, if played recorded double-double/triple-double, etc. The efficiency formula is a combination of various formulas used by different basketball organizations/leagues. We got involved many basketball scouts and journalists to assure it's accuracy. The formula: 1.5*PTS + 3* (REB+AST+ST+BL-TO) - 2*BSAG - 4*PF + 3*PFRV + 4* (2FGPM+3FGPM) + 1.5*FTM - 3* (2FGPA-2FGPM) - 3* (3FGPA-3FGPM) - (FTA-FTM)
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