The European season is now underway, with a number of Aussies opening the year in great form across the first couple of weeks. None have started off with more success than Philadelphia 76ers draftee Jonah Bolden who earned some early season silverware.
In the Israeli Winner Cup, Maccabi Tel Aviv won the title after winning all three of their games. Their opening game against Hapoel was a thriller, with Maccabi overcoming a 12 point first quarter deficit to steal the win by the narrowest of margins, 81-80. In his professional debut, Jonah Bolden came off the bench to play 15 minutes in which he managed 1 point, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Maccabi Rashon proved no match for Bolden's side next up, and were trounced 86-60 in a commanding performance. Elevated into the starting line-up, Bolden played a more important role and was able to compile 8 points (4-of-5 FG), 9 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 23 minutes [video highlights] . In the final against Nahariya, Maccabi took control early and were never seriously threatened, pulling away to a 93-79 victory to take home the Cup. Starting, Bolden again logged 23 minutes and went close to a double-double, adding 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, earning his first title along the way [video highlights]. Maccabi Tel Aviv start their Winner League season against Hapoel Eilat on Tuesday morning, while their EuroLeague season tips-off on Friday morning.
Vrijednosnice Osijek opened their Alpe Adria Cup campaign with two straight victories, led superbly by 6'8 forward Venky Jois. In their opening game, they overcame Czech side Brno 90-84 to get things off to a good start. With 12 points, 5 rebounds and 8 fouls drawn, Jois also had an encouraging start to the season. Osijek then managed to hold off Danish side Klosterneuburg 95-93 in their second outing to remain unbeaten, with Jois in outstanding form. Jois went 9-of-10 from the field (1-of-1 3PT) in racking up a team-best 24 points with 3 rebounds and 3 assists to ensure Osijek held on for the win.
Osijeck then opened their Croatian A1 League campaign with a solid 86-68 win against Zagreb behind a 27-19 first period. As the focal point of the offense, Jois registered a 15 point and 12 rebound double-double with 4 assists in the win to again show that he is set for a big year in Croatia.
In their opening game of the season, Lokomotiv Kuban took on Kalev/Cramo in the VTB United League and came away with a convincing 88-62 road win [video highlights]. The Russian side took the lead late in the first term and never looked back. Sharpshooting forward Ryan Broekhoff came off the bench to add 4 points and 6 rebounds in just 18 minutes on court. He also notched the highest +/- of the game by recording +21. His side is back in action this week with their EuroCup campaign tipping-off early on Thursday morning.
Brock Motum and his new side Anadolu Efes Istanbul lost their season-opener on the road to Pinar Karsiy, 85-92. The home side got ahead early, and while Anadolou stayed close, they could not nudge ahead when it mattered the most. Motum started off with a solid 9 points and 3 rebounds as a starter, but he would have been hoping for a win. His side commences their EuroLeague campaign in the early hours of Friday morning.
Ben Madgen and his new Lithuanian side Lietuvos Rytas got their season off to the right start with two straight wins. They earned a solid 102-90 season-opening win against Pieno Zvaigzdes. Madgen came off the bench for 10 points in 18 minutes, shooting an efficient 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. Elevated into the starting lineup in their next game, he would pour in 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting with 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 28 minutes as he helped his side to an 82-75 win against Juventus.
Lietuvos Rytas then took on Madgen's former club Lietkabelis. It was a night when things did not go according to plan as Lietkabelis shot the lights out, relegating Lietuvos Rytas to an 81-97 loss. Madgen went scoreless in a game that his side will want to put behind them quickly. Thankfully they bounced back quickly to dismantle Dzūkija 78-54 and get back on the winners list. Coming off the bench, Madgen added 5 points and 2 assists in 18 minutes (video highlights).
Vytautas were the next victim of Lietuvos Rytas, with Madgen delivering his best individual performance of the season to date. The dynamic guard exploded for a game-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting as he led his side to a 75-69 victory and a 4-1 record to start the season (video highlights). Unfortunately Lietuvos Rytas could not keep the run going, falling short to reigning champions Zalgiris Kaunas, 67-70 in a close one (video highlights). Madgen was restricted to 5 points and 4 assists in 23 minutes.
Dan Trist marked his return to the Spanish LEB Oro second division with a game-high 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting for Ourense. Despite the 6'9 Trist's dominance as first man off the bench, Ourense fell 71-83 to Breogan. Trist was again a reliable offensive threat in their round 2 contest against Clavijo. Despite finishing strongly thanks to a 21-9 final term, Ourense could not overcome their poor second term where they were outscored by 8 to eventually fall short 70-72. Trist converted 5-of-9 from the field for 14 points alongside 7 rebounds and 3 assists in playing 30 minutes.
In his first season as a professional, sharpshooting forward Matt Donlan has experienced an inauspicious start to his career with Penas Huesca, also in the Spanish second division. Huesca lost to Valladolid 63-67 in a close contest to open their 2017-18 campaign. Donlan drained 1-of-3 three-pointers for 3 points in 5 minutes to get his pro career underway. Huesca then found themselves with an 0-2 record after going down to Prat 59-67 in round 2. Donlan would not hot the court in the round 2 loss.
William McDowell-White also made his professional debut, registering a near triple-double in Baunach's 72-87 loss to Kirchheimin the German Pro A (second division). The 6'5 point guard gathered 11 points (3-of-7 3PT), 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals in a performance that is sure to catch the eye of parent EuroLeague team Brose Bamburg. McDowell-White would miss their round 2 70-78 loss to Nurnberg with a reported infection. He would return to the court in Baunach's third straight loss, a narrow 65-67 result to Vechta. Once again the point guard's all-round game was on display, as McDowell-White collected 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal. While his side is now 0-3, McDowell-White has started his season strongly.
Starting with the Nidaros Jets in Norway, Joel Spear lit up Froya for 24 points including 4-of-9 three-pointers but could not prevent a 87-98 loss. The 6'4 guard also added 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in 32 minutes in the 11 point loss. Nidaros would then fall 70-78 to Tromso despite another encouraging outing from Spear. This time he added 16 points (5-of-13 FG) with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Following a bye in round 3, Nidaros finally hit the winners list thanks to a convincing 89-62 win over Centrum in round 4. Spear was integral in earning the win, pouring in a game-high 22 points that included 4-of-8 three-pointers, 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals as he stuffed the stats sheet. Gimle prevented Nidaros from winning two straight for the first time this season, coming away with a 94-83 victory despite a sizzling 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting performance from Spear. The loss saw Nidaros slump to a 1-3 record to open the season.
In Finland, Korihait dropped their first round contest to Espoo United 69-92, a loss that came about after a slow 12-25 first term that saw them trail early and never recover. Making his debut with Korihait, Deng Deng added 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block in just 20 minutes to make a positive impression. The 6'8 forward again came off the bench in their round 2 92-89 victory over Pyrinto to add 6 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocked shots in 22 minutes. With two straight encouraging performances, he was elevated into the starting five in his next game, a 67-85 loss to Kouvot in a tough encounter. The Aussie big man delivered though, contributing a 13 point and 11 rebound double-double with 3 assists and 2 blocks in a dominant performance, albeit in a loss as his side fell to a 1-2 record to open the season.
In neighbouring Sweden, Uppsala were thrashed by Boras 54-85 in the opening round of the Basketligan. Veteran guard Rhys Carter started and was able to add just 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists as his side were totally outplayed. Uppsala lacked the interior presence to match it with the superior size and experience of Boras in this encounter.
Bristol got their season off to a flyer thanks to an 87-85 win over Plymouth. Captain Michael Vigor contributed 9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in an all-round performance to ensure his side earned a win. Scoring 24 points off a forced 17 turnovers was the catalyst behind the opening round victory. Unfortunately they lost to Leicester in their next outing, going down 59-79. Vigor chimed in with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in a foul plagued 21 minutes.
Tom Wilson who is on a development contract, has yet to take to the court for Partizan Belgrade in their Adriatic League campaign. Partizan have compiled a 1-2 record to open the season.
Former Boomers forward Clint Steindl has signed with Greek A1 side Panionios after spending the last season in Belgium with Leuven. Panionios lost their opening game of the season 68-98 to Larissa-Faros and urgently need to add scoring to their roster if they are to be competitive this season. They will be hoping the arrival of Steindl will help in that department, with Steindl one of the best perimeter scorers in Belgium last season.