The 2018/19 season was a big year for the Australian men in Europe.
An injection of first year professionals who were transitioning from the US College system helped not only bolster the number of players, but also add to the depth of quality. Brock Motum and Ben Madgen were returning from the season prior, while Mangok Mathiang also made the journey to Europe following his short stint with the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA.
With Mathiang’s team knocked out in the Italian Serie A semifinals 2-3 by Umana Venezia, it was left to Brock Motum and Anadolu Efes Istanbul as the last Aussie standing.
We take a look at the top 5 performed Aussie men of the 2018/19 season from down under.
5 | Brock MOTUM
The 2018/19 season was one of promise and unfulfilled potential for Brock Motum, and most of it had nothing to do with the 6’10 stretch-four forward himself.
In his second season with Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Motum’s role evolved into one that was to provide an offensive spark off the bench rather than as a starter. On a team which boasts 9 foreigners, only five are able to suit up at any one time in the Turkish Basketball League. The log-jam has seen Motum forced to bide his time, sometimes from the sidelines despite his scoring efficiency and effectiveness when given an opportunity.
In the EuroLeague, Motum averaged 6.5 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 53.8% from inside the arc and 44% beyond it. He posted a season best 17 points and 7 rebounds in 16 minutes in an Efes win against Buducnost, playing 31 games in total en route to finishing as runner-up.
Back in Turkey, Motum’s side is just 1 win away from holding aloft the championship trophy, locked 3-all with fellow EuroLeague rivals Fenerbahce. He has posted an impressive 17.6 points and 5.47 rebounds per game, shooting at better than 60% from inside the arc and 43.14% beyond it. However despite his impact, which included scoring 20 points 6 times. Despite limited opportunities in the Turkish league finals, he is now expected to sign a deal with Spanish club Valencia for the 2019/20 season.
4 | Ben MADGEN
With most of the Australians in Europe forwards or centres, Ben Madgen continued to buck the trend by being the best performed guard.
Playing for newly promoted Crailsheim, Madgen spent most of his season successfully keeping his side out of the relegation zone though providing his leadership and veteran play. And he did it superbly. Of all his fellow countrymen playing in the top leagues of Europe, he posted an oustanding 14.2 points per game while shooting 43.7% from the field overall and 85.3% from the free throw line. He also chipped in with 4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
The South East Melbourne Phoenix recruit exploded for a season-high 31 points including 7 three-pointers and 6 rebounds in a loss to Eisbären Bremerhaven. He also displayed his versatility and rebounding in compiling a 10-point and 12-rebound double-double in a win against Medi Bayreuth. After four years in Europe, he is now headed home, and at age 34, has still got plenty in the tank for the Phoenix.
3 | Mangok MATHIANG
The 6’10 centre enjoyed a dominant season for Vanoli Cremona in the Italian Serie A. Mathiang helped guide his team to a deserving win in the Italian Cup back in February, and has been one of the best centres across the league. He finished the regular season averaging a double double of 11.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, the latter mark being the third best in the league. He would go on to complete the season shooting 61.3% from the field which had him placed 4th in the competition.
The former Louisville big man had some big rebounding games throughout the season and registering a staggering 17 double-doubles across his 38 games played. Along with Landale, he was clearly one of the best two Aussie centres in Europe this season.
2 | Xavier COOKS
Clearly the most versatile Australian in Europe this season was Xavier Cooks, and he quickly became a fan favourite at s.Oliver Würzburg. The former Winthrop standout made an immediate impact in his rookie pro season, making a valuable contribution as his team progressed to the final of FIBA Europe Cup, going down to Dinamo Sissari in the final. Despite his rising star, his team narrowly missed out on a playoff berth in the German Bundesliga, finishing in 9th place.
Cooks averaged an impressive 11.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1 steal per game in the FIBA Europe Cup while shooting better than 60.2% from inside the arc and 32.6% from beyond it. He backed that up with 11.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game in the German league, shooting an even better 60.9% from two-point range and an excellent 45.1% from long-range. He posted a 25 points and 5 rebounds in a win against Szolgard and backed it up with an 18-point and 16-rebound performance in a win against Pinar Karsiyaka in the FIBA Europe Cup second round, and a season best 24 points and 9 rebounds in a 1-point loss to Ratiopharm Ulm back in Germany.
Needless to say he became an integral player for Würzburg in an outstanding debut season.
1 | Jock LANDALE
The Saint’s Mary’s graduate enjoyed a standout season for Partizan Belgrade in both the EuroCup and Adriatic League competitions.
Landale’s big season included landing the Serbian National Cup, while progressing to the EuroCup Top 16 and Adriatic League semi-finals. He also quickly became a fan favourite after making some big game-winning shots along the way too.
In the EuroCup, Landale averaged 11.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, starting 12 of his 16 contests. He delivered a season best 18 points and 5 rebounds in a win against Trento, and scored 11 points or more in all but one of his Top 16 games to be one of the most consistent and reliable centres in the league. The big man scored at a rate of 68.3% from two-point range, and a respectable 38.1% from three-point territory, was ranked fourth in rebounding and fifth in two-point field goal shooting across the league.
He performed even better in the ABA Liga, delivering 12 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. His best scoring output was 23 points in a win against Buducnost, and it was a rarity that he did not score in double figures.
Consistent and reliable, Landale was arguably the best performed Aussie in Europe this season – not bad for a first year professional. He has since signed with EuroLeague club Zalgiris Kaunas for the 2019/20 season in Lithuania such is the recognition he is now receiving.