Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

This week's update on former Tar Heel hoopsters ...<br><br><center><i>Pictured -- Ademola Okulaja</i></center>

OKULAJA, GERMANY GO 2-0

* Germany began the quest to qualify for the 2005 European Championship with an 81-61 rout of Ukraine, on the road last Wednesday. Dirk Nowitzki dominated the action for Germany with 29 points (9-13 FG, 1-3 3-pt. FG, 10-14 FT), 10 boards, four assists and five steals. Nowitzki's effort was backed up by Ademola Okulaja's 11 points (4-8 FG, 2-4 3-pt. FG, 1-2 FT) and nine rebounds in 25 minutes.

Germany hosted Hungary on Saturday and fell behind 38-30 at halftime. A more determined German team took the lead at 43-42 during the third-quarter on a basket by Okulaja and went on to a 52-48 advantage after three quarters.

"It was Okulaja who kept his nerve in the closing minutes and helped ward off the Hungarian challange," fibaeurope.com reported. "He scored seven points in the final three minutes, on two dunks and a three-pointer, which gave Germany the breathing space they needed to close the game as winners, 82-72."

Okulaja shot 8-11 from the field and 6-6 on free throws to finish with 23 points against Hungary. Nowitzki was once again stellar for Germany scoring a game-high 32 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Germany (2-0) continues 2005 Eurobasket qualifying on Wednesday hosting Belgium and on Saturday with a visit by Ukraine.

WILLIAMS, GEORGIA DOWN FINLAND

* Former Tar Heel Shammond Williams began playing in official European competition on Saturday. Williams, as a member of the Republic of Georgia national team, was on the court at point guard for the full 40 minutes of the contest as he scored 19 points (5-12 FG, 3-7 3-pt. FG, 6-6 FT), assisted on 10 baskets and took down 4 rebounds to help Georgia (1-0) defeat Finland (0-1) 85-78 before a crowd of 10,000-12,000 fans in Tbilisi, Georgia.

"The official attendance was 10,000 but there was more like 12,000, the fans were really packed in," a FIBA Europe official said, according to fibaeurope.com.

Williams became friends with Georgian national team player Zaza Pachulia when they were teammates with the Orlando Magic in 2004 and was recruited to play for the national team. Georgian law does not allow for dual citizenship unless a presidential dispensation is granted. Williams is just one of three citizens of Georgia to be granted the honor. Current Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili is one of the others, according to fibaeurope.com.

Williams will be back in European Championship qualifying action with the Georgian national squad on Wednesday at Macedonia (1-0) and then on Saturday with a trip to Luxembourg (0-1). Georgia is in FIBA Europe's Division B and need a first-place finish in Group D for a chance to be promoted to Division A to qualify for Eurobasket 2007.

Williams may not be done his world travels after playing on the international circuit for Georgia. It was reported by eurobasket.com recently that Ulker Istanbul of the Turkish League has been talking with Williams about joining the team. Williams previously played in Turkey for Ulker Istanbul in 1998-99 after being released by the Atlanta Hawks that year.


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