Kecskemet hosts Pecs for the second leg of the Hungarian Cup quarterfinals after they've lost the first leg by 6 points. The hosts are up by 9 points with 19 seconds left from the game. The guests are bringing up the ball for the last possession. They need a 3 pointer to cut down the lead to 6 points which would mean overtime. The redactor of the broadcasting channel feels something and the camera is showing #6 of the visitor team for a bit. With 10 seconds on the clock he gets the ball just outside the three point line. The pass isn't too good and the ball is almost slipping out of his hands, but somehow he is managing to take control over it. The clock is ticking while #6 does a pump fake on which his defender jumps in the air but stays in front of him. With a man in his face, with no room to take the normal route for his shoot #6 puts up a deep and weird fade-away three. As he falls to the ground and the ball swishes through the net, the camera is showing the guest bench where you can see the assistant coach smiling to the young head coach with the expression "we knew he can do that..."
Right now everybody knows that in Hungary. Everybody knows that Alex Legion (195-G-88, agency: Laszlo Vinko Group, college: FIU) is a lights out shooter who can make shoots from anywhere on the court anytime he wants. The 6'5" shooting guard with that clutch-three saved the game to a double overtime where his team advanced to the Final Four of the Hungarian Cup. His team, Pecs is supposed to be the lowest budget team in the country and wasn't predicted to advance so far in the Cup. Of course considering their budget they shouldn't be standing at the 6th place in the league neither and considering his talent level Alex Legion isnt supposed to play for them. But he is, and he is doing great, averaging 20.8ppg, 5.7rpg, 1.2apg and 1.6spg while shooting: FGP: 53%, 3PT: 32% and FT: 88%.
If we jump back in the time when you played at Oak Hill Academy, who was the one who could take the big shoots: Brandon Jennings (183-PG-89), Nolan Smith (187-PG-88, college: Duke) or yourself?
Well we all had our fair share of big shots. Some games it was Brandon other games Nolan but Brandon was the pg so he made great decisions at the end of the game.
But you always had a better shooting touch than both of them, am I right?
Yes I've been known for being a shooter all my life. What separated me from most high school players scouts said I was one of the few who had a mid-range game which I pride myself on.
You had a really strong senior year at Oak Hill with scholarship offers from big programs like Michigan, Kansas, UCLA and Kentucky. Could you tell us a little bit about the process, how did you come down to Kentucky?
I had a very long recruiting process in high school. I was originally committed to Michigan but they fired Coach Tommy Amaker who is now the coach for Harvard. This was a real shock to me for two reasons. I was a senior at Oak Hill ready to start my college career coming back home to restore the Michigan program and they fire the main reason why I recommitted there. So once I opened my recruitment back up I became one of the top prospects left that was unsigned. Coach Gillispe had just became the head Coach of a great program: Kentucky. I like what he did with Acie Law and wanted to be a part of the tradition.
You decided to leave the program and transfer to Illinois after just 6 games into the season. What was the reason of that?
I didn't feel that I would develop there as a player under the coaching style and methods of Coach Gillispe. He's a great coach who knows the game inside and out but it just wasn't a great fit for me socially. It was hard to communicate with him and I didn't want to spend the next 4 years not being able to have a healthy relationship with my college coach.
As we heard at Illinois you worked really hard on your game but still couldn't find major minutes on the court. How hard were those 2 years there for you?
I've always been one to work on my game and put in the work necessary to get better. But my time at Illinois was very discouraging for me as a basketball player because I wasn't seeing any results from my hard work. At times I felt like giving up on the game I love and dedicated my life to.
You were so low that you wanted to quit basketball during that time?
Yes I did. When you work hard at something and you don't seeing any positive results it can wear on you physically and mentally. People around, family and friends had notice a change in me. I wasn't excited about the game anymore. This is why I decided to give it one more shot with Coach Isaiah Thomas down at FIU.
You choose to transfer to FIU just to play under his hands?
Yes, he's an NBA Hall of Famer and knows a lot about the game and developing players so I wanted to see what I could learn from him and see what he thinks about my situation at the time.
Was he a big influence for you?
He worked me out my entire year off and though I was just a kid who wanted to have an opportunity to showcase his talent I learned all my basic fundamentals which I use today in my games from Coach Thomas. Of course I added new things to my game here and there but the foundation was planted by him.
You finished up an average year individually with FIU, so you didn't had a realistic chance to get drafted to the NBA. What supposed to be your next move?
Well that year was also the year of the lockout which made it twice as hard to get a look at. I tried to head overseas which was very difficult for me. Most agents didn't want to take chance on me because my rsum wasn't solid enough, and teams weren't impressed with all the colleges I had been to either, so I was stuck to just workout and pray for and opportunity.
You ended up not playing any kind of professional basketball, was there any point when you were thinking that you wont be able to work your path to the professional level? Did you feelings of hanging up the shoes return?
Yes. I was 1 year out of college and basketball was fading away from my life. So I decided to give back to kids in the Metro Detroit area. I begin working in the Black Caucus Foundation as a Public Speaker encouraging kids to stay in school and stay away from drugs and alcohol. Although I was signed, I always made a point to keep working on my game it was a part of who I was as a person.
How did you feel when you finally signed a contract to play in Hungary?
I felt grateful that God finally gave me chance to play of the pro level and rebuild my resume. This time I was more determined to do things the right way and not take one day for granted.
What was your mindset coming in? Proving the doubters wrong or you didn't care about them just came in humble, embracing the opportunity?
My mindset coming was to prove to myself that I was ready to dominate the game that I loved and played my entire life. At first I wanted to prove everyone wrong but in the end I realize that they are human and it was only going to make me bitter. I choose to be humble and embrace this opportunity because not everyone is blessed to do what they really love as a job.
In you first two games you were lets say ...modest (12 points in each game). Than you exploded against Albacomp the top team in the league with a 27 point performance and since then you had more games over 20 points than under and your team, Pecs is one of the big surprises of this season. How comfortable are you playing for them and playing in Hungary? How do you see the competition level?
I love my teammates, we are very young but we work really hard and try to play for each other every game. But to answer your first to question my first couple of games it was a long time since I had played in over a year far as high level competition so I had to shake the rust off. Once I calmed myself down I start to play my game and the rest is history. The level of competition in Hungary is pretty good. I look at this league as a grind hard working league not a lot of flashy players but hard defense with no fouls being called hahahaha.
As one of the best (if not the best) SG in Hungary you probably will get interest from many teams throughout Europe. What are your plans for next year?
I plan to look at all my options in each country and see what club has the best situation for me and my family. If its coming back to Hungary playing for Pecs I can't say but I will take my time, talk with my people and we will do what's in my best interest.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years from now?
Well I should be 27 by then. God willing I will have good health and still playing this game they call basketball. Since I have no kids and not married maybe start to settle down and think about a family one day.
If you could jump back in time what would you do different?
To be honest if you would have asked me this question while I was still in college I would have giving you an answer like I would have stayed at this school. But I wouldn't do anything different. Now that I am older I realize that things happen in our life for a reason God doesn't allow anything to happen to us that we can't handle or get through. All the ups and downs I've experience has only made me a better person and I have learn to embrace the hard times and fight and get through adversity.
Averaging almost 20ppg playing alongside Brandon Jennings and Nolan Smith, and leading Oak Hill Academy to an almost perfect season (40-1), Alex Legion was considered as a legit NBA-prospect coming out from high school. He had scholarships offers from big time programs and decided to play at Kentucky... than he transferred to Illinois... than he transferred to FIU to play for Coach Isiah Thomas... than he found himself after college not playing any type of professional basketball and being claimed by many as another wasted talent. Sure, you can argue about playing professional in Hungary is a waste of talent or not, but if you get to watch him in his element, on the court, doing what he knows the best, you can clearly see that this is only the beginning of a long road back to where he belongs talent-wise. Nobody can predict what will be the end of his road, but one thing is for sure: he is a rough diamond mined out in Hungary, which in proper hands will be a bright shining one for a long time.
A Division Round 3 of Semi-Finals. Wins for Alba and Szolnok - May 25, 2016
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Alba - Atomeromu 96-68 Alba cruised past Atomeromu to take 2-1 lead in the series. The game was mostly controlled by Alba. Atomeromu was better in second period 23-22. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. They dominated down low during the game scoring 62 of its points in the paint compared to Atomeromu's 36. Alba forced 19 Atomeromu turnovers. Their players were unselfish on offense dishing 25 assists. It was a great evening for American forward Ryan Pear... [read more]
Alba cruised past Atomeromu to take 2-1 lead in the series. The game was mostly controlled by Alba. Atomeromu was better in second period 23-22. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. They dominated down low during the game scoring 62 of its points in the paint compared to Atomeromu's 36. Alba forced 19 Atomeromu turnovers. Their players were unselfish on offense dishing 25 assists. It was a great evening for American forward Ryan Pearson (198-90, college: George Mason, agency: Inception Sports) who led his team to a victory scoring 16 points and 9 rebounds. The former international Peter Lorant (206-85, agency: Octagon Europe) helped adding 18 points. The best for the losing side was international power forward Janos Eilingsfeld (198-91) with a double-double by scoring 23 points and 10 rebounds (on 10-of-11 shooting from the field) and American forward Troy Barnies (200-89, college: Maine) scored 10 points and 4 steals. The winner was already known earlier in the game, so both coaches allowed to play the bench players saving starting five for next games. Top scorers: Alba: P.Lorant 18+4reb+2ast, R.Pearson 16+9reb+3ast, K.Chery 16+1reb+3ast, L.Markovic 9+5reb, T.Spurlock 8+7reb+3ast, A.Myles 7+3ast Atomeromu: J.Eilingsfeld 23+10reb+2ast, T.Barnies 10+4reb+2ast, D.Robinson 7, M.Medve 7+1reb+2ast, T.Will 5+3reb+1ast, C.Dunn 5+7ast
Szolnok held off Kormend to gain 2-1 lead. The hosts took control from the first minutes by winning first half. But Kormend won third quarter 23-21. However it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Szolnok looked well-organized offensively handing out 25 assists. 28 personal fouls committed by Kormend helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. It was a good game for international swingman David Vojvoda (196-90) who led his team to a victory with a double-double by scoring 28 points, 5 rebounds and 13 assists. Serbian forward Strahinja Milosevic (203-85) contributed with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for the winners. American guard Trey McKinney-Jones (198-90, college: Miami, FL) answered with 29 points and the other American import point guard Wesley Channels (190-88, college: Austin Peay St.) added 22 points and 6 assists in the effort for Kormend. Both teams had four players each who scored in double figures. Top scorers: Szolnok: D.Vojvoda 28+5reb+13ast, G.Vrbanc 16+1reb+2ast, S.Milosevic 12+5reb+5ast, A.Keller 11+4reb+1ast, M.Borisov 10+3reb+1ast, J.Jones 9+6reb+1ast Kormend: T.McKinney-Jones 29+4reb, W.Channels 22+3reb+6ast, J.Duinker 16+6reb+4ast, P.Petty 11+8reb+4ast, C.Dickerson 7+3reb, C.Ferencz 2+2reb
21 year old forward, Szilard Benke (196-F-95) will leave his hometown of Kaposvar and will join Zalakeramia-ZTE KK from next season. The 6"5" (196 cm) player reached an agreement with Zalakeramia-ZTE KK last week. The young Hungarian forward is one of the most talented Hungarian players in his age group. He had a breakout year this year in the Hungarian top division finishing the season with an average of 10.4ppg, 3.1rpg, 1apg, 0.8spg and 0.4bpg. He scored in double figures 18 times out... [read more]
The young Hungarian forward is one of the most talented Hungarian players in his age group. He had a breakout year this year in the Hungarian top division finishing the season with an average of 10.4ppg, 3.1rpg, 1apg, 0.8spg and 0.4bpg. He scored in double figures 18 times out of 37 games and he recorded 20 points games 3 times during the year. His good overall performance is even more impressive when we are taking in consideration that he did all of this by playing alongside 4 imports and one of the best Hungarian players of the league, Roland Hendlein.
Supporters of Zalakeramia-ZTE KK should be very happy with the extension of Balazs Kerpel-Fronius (194-G/F-92) as the 24 year old Hungarian guard was one of the bright spots of the team this year, playing major minutes (30.1) and finishing the year recording: 9.4ppg, 3.3rpg, 0.9apg and 0.7spg while shooting an amazing 71% (93/131) from the field.
A Division Round 2 of Semi-Finals. Wins for Szolnok and Atomeromu - May 22, 2016
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Kormend - Szolnok 73-80 Szolnok evened the semifinal series versus Kormend at 1-1. They bounced from the home loss in the opener beating Kormend away from home in Game 2. Kormend was ahead by 5 points at the halftime before a 51-39 second half run of Szolnok. The third game is scheduled for Wednesday. Atomeromu - Alba 80-76 Atomeromu overcame Alba at home court to level things up at 1-1 in the series. American point guard Christopher Dunn (189-83, college: W.Virginia St., agency: Incep... [read more]
Szolnok evened the semifinal series versus Kormend at 1-1. They bounced from the home loss in the opener beating Kormend away from home in Game 2. Kormend was ahead by 5 points at the halftime before a 51-39 second half run of Szolnok. The third game is scheduled for Wednesday.
Atomeromu overcame Alba at home court to level things up at 1-1 in the series. American point guard Christopher Dunn (189-83, college: W.Virginia St., agency: Inception Sports) orchestrated the victory by scoring 18 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. International power forward Janos Eilingsfeld (198-91) contributed with 12 points and 9 rebounds for the winners. Four Atomeromu players scored in double figures. Atomeromu's coach used a ten-player rotation in such tough game. American forward Ryan Pearson (198-90, college: George Mason, agency: Inception Sports) replied with 21 points and 8 rebounds and his fellow American import guard Anthony Myles (196-92, college: Rider) added 15 points and 5 rebounds in the effort for Alba. Top scorers: Alba: R.Pearson 21+8reb+2ast, T.Spurlock 17+4reb+1ast, A.Myles 15+5reb+3ast, B.Simon 10+2reb+1ast, P.Lorant 8+5reb+1ast, K.Chery 3+5reb+7ast Atomeromu: C.Dunn 18+6reb+7ast, T.Barnies 15+5reb, J.Eilingsfeld 12+9reb+3ast, D.Robinson 10+1reb+3ast, A.Toth 9+2reb, R.Watkins 6+5reb+1ast
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