It was one of those games that will be talked about for a while. Dirk Dippold (190-G-92) who hit the game winner at the buzzer will probably never forget it, while for Joey Fuca (182-G-89, college: Master's) the memory might be painful. The 24-year-old point guard did everything in his power to help the Baskets Vilsbiburg down RLSO leader FC Baunach, but ended up on the losing end of a thrilling nail-biter. The game was tied at 80 with six seconds left to play, when Fuca was fouled on his way to the rim. Vilsbiburg's leading scorer showed no nerves and converted his two free-throws, putting his team up by two. "Baunach called timeout to advance the ball to midcourt allowing them for a desperate heave of a shot that went in", Fuca said, who finished the game with 25 points, hitting 5-of-7 attempts from long distance, while adding four rebounds and three assists. "I will give credit to a scrappy Baunach team who is in first place for a reason, but we definitely let a great opportunity slip thru our hands. Now we have to shift our focus to Deisenhofen who sits in second place behind Baunach", he added.
Regardless of the loss, the game was proof once again that Fuca is the engine of the Vilsbiburg team that is fifth in the standings of the 1. Regionalliga South-East (10-7) following the Baunach defeat. He is pacing the league's best offensive team with just under 22 points a contest, ranks third in the league in triples made (41 in 16 games played), pulls down a solid 4.3 rebounds per outing and dishes out 2.2 assists a game. To call him a RLSO standout is redundant. In his first year in Germany, the Danville, California, native embraced his role as a leader of his team with zeal and without hesitation. Having been dubbed "the clubs undisputed leader" while running the point for the Master's College Mustangs might have something to do with it: "As the point guard I am responsible for being the leader of our team", Fuca told Eurobasket.com, "every team is different, but I feel its my job to motivate my teammates vocally and with my play. Whether its practice or a game its vital to get the most out of every player by creating a competitive atmosphere."
A coach couldn't have said it any better. Or to be more precise, Joey Fuca IS a coach. On and off the court. "Back in Northern California I have my own training business and serve as a coach for an AAU team", he said. Teaching the game of basketball requires to master its fundamentals and to break it down to the most simple level, which inevitably will result in further developing your basketball IQ. Coaching is a passion of mine ever since my dad introduced me to basketball at an early age. I enjoy helping kids reach their potential by sharing all my knowledge of the game", Fuca said. The California kids may expect some international flavor in the future, as Fuca is playing the European game since graduating from college. Even though his first attempt did not produce the desired result, he kept believing: "It has been a rollercoaster, but it has definitely been worth the wait and hard work put in", he said. "After graduating in 2011, I was invited to a summer league in the Gran Canaria Islands. I didnt receive much interest from the camp, so I started my own training business. After not playing for a year, a lot of prayer and thought went into making a return."
From 2007 to 2011 Fuca attended NAIA Division 1 school Master's and became one of the premier point guards in the Golden State Athletic Conference, taking home All-GSAC team honors following his junior season. Thanks to the competitive nature of the conference, he was prepared to take the next step and wanted to follow in the footsteps of former Mustang players who pursued a professional career, such as Master's all-time scoring leader Mike Penberthy (191-G-74, college: Master's) who was part of the LA Lakers 2000-01 championship team and played for German powerhouse ALBA Berlin later in his career, or 2005 graduate Joe Deister (187-G-83, college: Master's) who spent three years with RSV Eintracht and was named the Eurobasket.com 1. Regionalliga North Player of the Year in 2007. "[The GSAC] is rated the number one NAIA league in the country", Fuca said. "There are numerous amounts of Division 1 transfers every year, making the conference competitive. From my team alone four guys have played professionally while other players in the league have been in Europe, Asia, or the NBA D League."
When Canadian Ryan Barbeau (178-G) left the Baskets Vilsbiburg in pre-season, Fuca was picked to do the playmaking and turned out to be the perfect fit for the Bavaria-based team. "Germany has been an awesome experience for me as this is my first season in Europe", he said. "The town of Vilsbiburg although small, has embraced me with kindness and showed great support for our basketball team. My teammates, coaches, and management have acted first class to me. Though it has taken me time to adjust from the California Sun to the German snow, its all a part of a new culture." As far as the snow and the transition from North America to Germany was concerned, his teammate Justin Halleran (186-G-84) from Trepassey, Newfoundland and Labrador, provided some advice. Fuca and Halleran create the best backcourt squad in the 1. Regionalliga South-East, combining for 43.2 points per contest, with both players ranking amongst the most effective players of the league. "Justin has been a great teammate and leads by his work ethic. This is his third season in Vilsbiburg and he knows what it takes to win in this league", Fuca said.
Up next for the Baskets Vilsbiburg will be a road trip against second ranked team TSV OH Deisenhofen on February 17. In their previous game earlier this season Fuca poured in 23 points on 6-for-13 shooting to help power his team to a 96-90 victory.
Willie Deane (188-PG-80, college: Purdue, agency: Higher Vision Sports) is a 36 year old 188cm point guard that is playing his 14th professional season and second with BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL). He has played in 11 countries in Greece, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, France and Latvia. He started his basketball career in 2008 with Boston College (NCAA) and then moved to Purdue where he played from 2000-2003 playing a total of 91 NCAA games and as a senio... [read more]
Willie Deane (188-PG-80, college: Purdue, agency: Higher Vision Sports) is a 36 year old 188cm point guard that is playing his 14th professional season and second with BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL). He has played in 11 countries in Greece, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, France and Latvia. He started his basketball career in 2008 with Boston College (NCAA) and then moved to Purdue where he played from 2000-2003 playing a total of 91 NCAA games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 17.8ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 41.6%, 3PT: 31.8%, FT: 78.2%. Last season he played for STB Le Havre (France-ProA) playing FIBA Europe Cup: 9 games: 13.0ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.9apg, 1.2spg, 2FGP: 58.7%, 3FGP: 33.3%, FT: 84.6%; French ProA: 15 games: 9.3ppg, 2.9rpg, 4.4apg, 2FGP: 50.6%, 3FGP: 12.5%, FT: 87.0%, in Mar.'16 moved to BK Ventspils (Latvia-LBL) playing 18 games: Score-2 (15.9ppg), 3.6rpg, Assists-2 (5.1apg), Steals-3 (1.8spg), FGP: 52.9%, 3PT: 37.5%, FT: 81.3%. He spoke to eurobasket before the Champions League game against the EWE Baskets Oldenburg in Oldenburg.
Willie thanks for talking to eurobasket.com. Welcome back to Oldenburg. You don't have the fondest memories losing a Eurochallenge quarterfinal best of 3 to the EWE baskets in March 2013 with Khimik-OPZ Yuzny (Ukraine-Superleague). What memories do you have of this series? I remember that we were in the game, but Rickey Paulding had a big game that got them through it.
Who was more annoying on the court Julius Jenkins or Ricky Paulding? Jenkins had big games in game one and three and Paulding steered 24 points in game three.
The most important game was game three where Paulding showed up. We had done a good job keeping him quiet for the first two games, but his contribution in game three allowed them to advance.
What memory do you have of ex teammate big man Miro Todic from that team? Miro was a real good dude. I remember him as being very versatile and he could play the positions three and four and stretch the floor. He was a very good physical player.
You started your professional career in 2003. Have you seen any other places in Germany or has Oldenburg been the only place you have spent time with? I played against the Artland Dragons when I was with Bulgarian team Lukoil.
You are 36 years old and still putting up stats as if you were 28. What motivates you to keep going and going?
I love to play the game of basketball. There is this misconception in Europe that once a player turns 30 that he can't play anymore. I am living proof that that isn't the case.
Besides keeping your body in shape why do you believe that you have been able to have such a long career?
I think that part of it is luck. Nobody can predict injuries and basketball is just an unknown thing. You go to play each day hoping for the best and too always come out after each game without a serious injury.
Often a player's game goes down with age. What has been your secret to having the fountain of consistency in you? I noticed that the older I got, the more that I had to do in the summers in terms of fitness. When I was younger, I could take off longer periods of time. When your older you have less time to be able to come back. You are more susceptible to injury as your body isn't used to getting back to that high intensity.
You won four titles in Bulgaria and one in France and Italy. What drives you on to keep playing? Does winning titles increase a bit more with age?
Basketball is a team game. The teams success is measured by how much you can accomplish. I believe that individual awards don't belong in basketball. Basketball isn't an individual sport, but a team sport. I never understood why they give individual awards to players in a game that is a team sport.
You have played in 11 countries for 14 teams. Do you at times feel like a basketball globetrotter? What do you say to critics who might suggest that you change too much during seasons from one team to another that might be on account of your character? I guess you could say it hasn't hindered teams from various countries to offer me jobs.
Every team that I ever played for wanted me to stay. The reasons for me not staying with teams over my career had nothing to do with my character. In many cases, they weren't able to afford me further at that moment. It was nothing against me, but just part of the business.
You are playing for a team with a rich basketball tradition. What kind of experience has it been for you playing for this team and does one feel the tradition in and around the city?
It's a very small town so everybody knows about the team. There is a lot of pressure on the team to hold down the tradition, but we are up to the challenge and we work very hard together each day to keep the tradition up.
BK Ventspils have a 10-1 record in the LBL league. What has been the secret to being at the top? Does the competition level suffer a bit to really give the team tough opponents on a regular basis?
You would think so, but that isn't the case. When you have the best record, everyone is out to get you and prove you wrong. Many teams find that extra energy to compete against us which is something you wouldn't have thought possible when looking at their roster.
BK Ventspils is 3-4 in the Champions League and playing better than their record shows. What has been the biggest difference in this competition in comparison to the LBL league? The biggest difference is the budget of the teams. In Germany teams might be able to afford 6 Americans while in the LBL league maybe 2-3 Americans. The teams are also deeper in the Champions league.
In the 2013-2014 season you played the majority of the season with Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd (Russia-VTB, starting five): 20 games: Score-5 (18.4ppg), 4.8rpg, Assists-4 (7.0apg), 1.2spg, FGP: 51.2%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 83.9%, in May'14 moved to EA7 Emporio Armani Milano (Italy-SerieA): 1 game: 2pts, 1ast. You came and won. In the short time you were there what did you feel was so special about that constellation of players?
The special thing about the Milan team was their depth. We had very good Italian players like Melli who is with Bamberg now and we had American keith Langford. He was pretty dominant then and still playing well today. We also had a very good coach.
In the 2010-2011 season you won the France Pro A with Sluc Nancy. How much fun was it playing with diminutive point guard John Linehan? Where do you rank him in all-time best guard teammates as a professional? He is probably the best full court defender I have ever seen. He made guys not want to dribble the ball at him. Guys would be resistant to bringing the ball up the court.
You were with the Washington Wizards (NBA) in preseason in 2007. What kind of experience was that for you and did you feel you realistically had a chance of making the team?
I know that basketball wise I should have made it. It was just the wrong time for me. It was a time when Gilbert Arenas was about to enter free agency and the club wanted to open up as much cap space as possible. They didn't keep anyone. Not even guys from the previous season. For me it was a great experience learning from guys like Antwan Jamison, Caron Butler, Gilbert Arenas and Brandon Hayward.
You won the Bulgarian title from 2008-2010 with Lukoil Academik Sofia. Which title was most difficult to win?
The first one was the most special. We had accomplished two things that season that had never been done before in Bulgaria. We had an undefeated season and reached the last 16 in ULEB Cup.
You put up huge stats in this time. Was this your strongest phase as a professional in terms of your game?
I think my strongest season was with Volgograd where I led the VTB in efficiency was first in assists and second in scoring.
What was your wake up call to being a rookie in 2003 in Europe with Ilysiakos Athens (Greece-A) where you knew that you were very far away from home?
My wake up call was not getting paid all the time. That was one of the reasons that I never went back to play. But loved Athens and it was the most fun I had in Europe. The Greek league don't have their finances in order.
You played three and a half years in Russia. What was the craziest experience that you ever had there with weather? We went to play in Siberia and it was -40C
You started your college basketball career in 1998 at Boston College and then transferred to Purdue where you played from 2000-2003. How did head coach Gene Keady groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Keady preached discipline and details. He enforced it and made you aware of it. He helped me develop further as a player at Purdue.
What memories do you have of then freshman David Teague? He won the scoring title in Germany in 2010 and once lit up Alba Berlin for 35 points. Did you already notice then that he had a scoring gene growing in him?
Yes he always had that' scoring instinct from the first day that he came. I saw him as a recruit. He was a great scorer and was pretty tall for a two guard which allowed him to shoot over smaller defenders.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that made the NBA?
The best guy I ever saw, I didn't play against. I was red shirted and saw Jamal Crawford put on a show at Michigan. I knew form that game that he would be going to the NBA.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose? I like big men. My top three would be Kareem, Hakeem Olajuwon and Jordan.
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
He and Magic are the top two most versatile of all-time for me.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
I see him at the top with Tim Duncan, Karl Malone and Kevin Mchale.
What was the last movie that you saw? I saw two documentaries Vaxxed and 13th.
Champions League: Monaco roll past Fraport Skyliners - 12 hours ago
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Fraport Skyliners - Monaco 64:70 Monaco claimed the seventh victory in Champions League regular season. They upset Fraport Skyliners in Frankfurt to stay on top of Group A. Dee Bost (188-PG-89, college: Mississippi St., agency: Three Eye Sports) nailed 19 points to lead the winners. Monaco grabbed an 18:15 lead after ten minutes. Fraport Skyliners erased the deficit in the second frame. The hosts pulled ahead for a 34:33 halftime advantage. Monaco stiffened defensively in the third quar... [read more]
Fraport Skyliners - Monaco 64:70
Monaco claimed the seventh victory in Champions League regular season. They upset Fraport Skyliners in Frankfurt to stay on top of Group A. Dee Bost (188-PG-89, college: Mississippi St., agency: Three Eye Sports) nailed 19 points to lead the winners. Monaco grabbed an 18:15 lead after ten minutes. Fraport Skyliners erased the deficit in the second frame. The hosts pulled ahead for a 34:33 halftime advantage. Monaco stiffened defensively in the third quarter. The French side limited to just 13 points in the quarter to regain a 3-point lead at the final break. Monaco dropped 20 points in the fourth quarter and iced the winning outcome. Zack Wright (191-G-85, college: Central Mo.) provided 16 points, while Amara Sy (202-F-81, agency: BeoBasket) added 13 points in the victory. Shavon Shields (201-G-94, college: Nebraska) responded with 24 points for Fraport Skyliners. Quantez Robertson (188-G-84, college: Auburn, agency: Interperformances) chipped in 13 points in the loss.
Openjobmetis Varese (Serie A) signed 29-year old American shooting guard Dominique Johnson (192-88kg-87, college: Azusa Pacific, agency: Higher Vision Sports). It is actually his comeback to Openjobmetis VA as he has played here before. Johnson already started the season at ALBA Berlin in German BBL league. In 11 games he had 8.6ppg, 2.8rpg and 1.9apg this season. Johnson also played 6 games in Eurocup where he recorded very impressive stats: 15.2ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.5apg and 1.7spg. Johnson al... [read more]
Openjobmetis Varese (Serie A) signed 29-year old American shooting guard Dominique Johnson (192-88kg-87, college: Azusa Pacific, agency: Higher Vision Sports). It is actually his comeback to Openjobmetis VA as he has played here before. Johnson already started the season at ALBA Berlin in German BBL league. In 11 games he had 8.6ppg, 2.8rpg and 1.9apg this season. Johnson also played 6 games in Eurocup where he recorded very impressive stats: 15.2ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.5apg and 1.7spg. Johnson also spent pre-season at Openjobmetis VA earlier that year. In 2010 he was drafted by Idaho Stampede (D-League) in third round (16th overall). The former Azusa Pacific University (NCAA Div.II) standoutis in his seventh season in pro basketball. Johnson has tried to make it to the NBA and played in the NBA Pro Summer League in 2012. He was voted All-NAIA D1 1st Team back in 2010 at his college time. Johnson is quite experienced player. He has played also professionally in Israel (Maccabi Rishon), Poland (Slask and Stabill), Turkey (Banvit), D-League (Sioux Falls Skyforce, Salt Lake City Stars, Texas Legends and Canton Charge) and NBA (Minnesota Timberwolves). Johnson could be described:
Dominique is an athletic 6'5" combo guard with a strong body and great ability to score and defend. He is an outstanding teammate and personality, a smart player who is better suited in Europe as a scorer and a top defender. Dominique could easily become one of the top players in Europe even at the Euroleague level.
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