UConn Abroad Recap: Marcus Williams beats Niels Giffey; Dyson leads Sassari

EuroLeague

Marcus Williams had 7 points and a game-high 10 assists leading #7 Crvena Zvezda to a 86-69 Top 16 victory over Niels Giffey and #5 ALBA Berlin. Giffey, battling foul trouble, added 3 points and 3 rebounds for the German club. In typical fashion, many of Williams dimes were of the highlight variety, including a pair of nifty no-looks:

With the win, #7 Crvena moves out of last place and ALBA falls into a tie for #5. Both clubs qualified for the Top 16 with impressive EuroLeague regular seasons but have struggled thus far. The Top 16 divides qualifying clubs from the regular season into two Groups -E and F- for a 14 game round-robin season. In order to advance to the next round of play, ALBA and Crvena must finish among the top four seeds in Group E. The two will rematch at the end of March, in a game that could decide postseason fate.

It was a big week for Williams across the board as his 19 point/6 assist effort led #1 Crvena to a thrilling 1 point victory over #2 Buducnost (Montenegro) in the Adriatic League. The game featured two former elite Big East point guards as Williams faced off against Omar Cook of St. John’s. See highlights below:

EuroCup

One tier down, in EuroCup play, it was Jerome Dyson’s turn to beat up on Cook, as his 11 points/7 assists helped Sassari move into #2 in Group H with a win over Buducnost. Remember, clubs play in multiple leagues so there is much crossover, especially during the postseason.

In Italian Series A play, Dyson’s 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists kept Sassari at #4 with just over 10 games remaining.

In Group M play, Hilton Armstrong and Besiktas (Turkey) moved to #2 with a victory over Neptunas (Lithuania). Through three quarters, Armstrong had 8 points/5 rebounds/3 blocks before leaving the game with an ankle injury. He is expected to miss only a week. Besiktas also announced the signing of former Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds.

Both clubs return to action next week needing a win to advance to the next stage, the EuroCup Final Eight.

 

Where are they now: Hilton Armstrong (video)

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bjkbasket.org

When we last checked in with Hilton Armstrong almost a year ago he had just been selected to represent the Golden State Warrior’s D-League affiliate (Santa Cruz) in the 2014 NBA D-League All-Star game. For the remainder of the Spring, Armstrong bounced between Santa Cruz and Golden State before signing in April for the remainder of the NBA season. He appeared in fifteen regular season games and all seven of the team’s playoff games posting averages of 1.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 6.5 minutes. Additionally, Armstrong appeared in 32 (23 starts) D-League games, averaging 12 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.75 blocks in 30 minutes of action. However, with a healthy Andrew Bogut returning from injury, the Warriors waived Hilton on July 30th. Two weeks later, Armstrong signed with Besiktas of the Turkish Basketball League.

Besiktas

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Leagues: Turkish Basketball League, EuroCup

Notable past players: Allen Iverson, Deron Williams, Khalied El-Amin

If you follow the NBA, Besiktas may ring a bell. In 2010 the club announced it’s largest contract in basketball division history, dishing out $4 million to Allen Iverson. Iverson played only ten games before retiring from professional basketball after calf surgery. Next season, locked out of the NBA, Deron Williams announced he would play for Besiktas for a cool $5 million. After Williams’ departed back to the NBA, Carlos Arroyo led the club to the EuroChallenge (third tier, think Tyler/Ryan Olander) Championship- qualifying for the EuroCup (second tier, Jerome Dyson) in the process.

Here are some highlights from AI’s brief tenure in Turkey:

This season, the club competes in both the Turkish Basketball League (national) as well as the EuroCup (regional). Armstrong, along with Chris Lofton (Tennessee) and JaJuan Johnson (Purdue, Boston Celtics), have led Besiktas to 4th place in the TBL (10-5) and berth in the EuroCup playoffs. The club, 0-2 in Group M play, desperately needs a win tomorrow against Neptunas (Lithuania) to keep a potential Final Eight matchup with Jerome Dyson’s Sassari alive.

Armstrong is currently averaging 8 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block on the season. Though his statistics are down, he has made consistent appearances on the highlight reel, including this ridiculous put-back dunk:

Armstrong had some of his stronger games in the more competitive EuroCup, including 13 points/5 rebounds and the game-winning assist against Khimky (Russia) earlier in the year.

1:30, 1:45, 2:10 and 2:30 (assist)

In the TBL, Hilton dropped 16 points/4 rebounds on Turk Telekom back in October.

0:30, 1:10, 2:00

BC Siauliai eliminated on half court buzzer beater (video)

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BC Siauliai was eliminated from Last 16 consideration in heartbreaking fashion yesterday, losing to Usak (Turkey) 78-75 on a half court buzzer beater at the end of regulation. Siauliai and Usak were competing for the last spot in the Final 16 out of Group H, with the ultimate goal a trip to the championship. The first three quarters were typical for a game with such high stakes, featuring 18 lead changes and 12 ties leading up to the dramatic finish. Siauliai held the lead 75-73 before a VERY questionable foul (see second video) called on Ryan Olander allowed Usak to tie the game on free throws. Following a Siauliai miss in the waning seconds, Courtney Fells (NC State) collected the rebound, took two dribbles and launched the game winner from behind the half court line. See shot below:

Here is the full game, see 1:43:00 for the INCREDIBLY QUESTIONABLE foul call to keep Usak in the game:

It’s hard to tell what’s more heartbreaking, the half court heave or the foul called on a clean block…at home!

Though the EuroChallenge season is over for Siauliai they will still compete in the LKL (Lithuanian National League) through April. The club currently sits at 8-6 (#5) with 25 games remaining.

BC Siauliai falls to Usak Sportif in Turkey

Siauliai Usak

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Usak Sportif overcame an early deficit to defeat visiting BC Siauliai 79-69 in Group H play yesterday in Turkey. Americans Justin Carter (Creighton) and Courtney Fells (NC State) led the way for Sportif with 19 points each. Siauliai’s 12 point first half lead was erased  quickly on a strong shooting night from Sportif, finishing 31-62 (50%) from the field. The two clubs were back and forth throughout the third quarter before an 11-2 run by Sportif sealed the deal. Rokas Giedraitis led the way for Siauliai with 25 points/4 rebounds and Ryan/Tyler Olander combined for 10 points/14 rebounds in a losing effort. With the loss, Siauliai drops to 2-1 in Group H play. They return to EuroChallenge action December 3rd when they host Enisey in Lithuania. The club returns to LKL action tomorrow at home against #4 Juventus.