ALL-STAR NODS FOR COTA, WILLIAMS
* A couple of former Tar Heel backcourt stars, now playing in Russia's Superleague A, have been recognized as all-star guards on the international basketball circuit. Ed Cota of Dynamo St. Petersburg and Shammond Williams of UNICS Kazan have both been chosen via Internet voting to play in the FIBA Europe League All-Star Game on April 14 in Cyprus.
The format for the game calls for the league's European players to take on the league's other players. Players on the "Rest of the World" team with Cota and Williams include Khalid El-Amin (U. Conn./Turkey), LaMarr Greer (Fla. St./Ukraine), Art Long (Cincinnati/Ukraine) and Andy Ellis (Texas Tech/Turkey).
In an interview with Sport Express (a Russian sports daily) last week, Ed Cota mentioned, among other things, that he intends to play for the national team of Panama for the first time this summer. (Cota's parents are from Panama.) "The Basketball Federation of Panama made a proposal to me and I have accepted," Cota told Sport Express.
Panama is scheduled for the Tournament of the Americas in late August in the Dominican Republic. Cota could be joined on the squad by Spanish League star Ruben Garces (Providence) and Italian League star Ruben Douglas (New Mexico). Eurobasket recently noted that the Cota-Douglas tandem could be one of the best backcourts at the event. The 2005 FIBA tournament is used to qualify five teams for the 2006 World Championship in Japan.
Look for more from the Cota interview next week.
LANG IN SPAIN
* After playing a 54-game regular season for the Seoul Knights (South Korea) in the Korean Basketball League, former Tar Heel Kris Lang has signed to play the remainder of the season for Unicaja Malaga in Spain's ACB pro league. Malaga is fighting for the playoffs and has added Lang as an injury replacement for center Zan Tabak.
Lang made his debut in Spain on Saturday. Malaga (18-9, fifth) knocked off Vitoria (21-6, second) 78-71. In only four minutes, Lang went 0-for-1 from the floor with one board and four personal fouls. Lang's teammates in Spain include J.R. Bremer (St. Bonaventure) and Peppy Sanchez (Temple).
CAPEL ENDS SEASON IN JAPAN
* Jason Capel finished his season in Japan last week with an appearance in the Japanese Basketball Superleague 2005 All-Star Game in Tokyo. Capel, representing the Aisin SeaHorses, scored 10 points (5-9 FG) along with three rebounds and an assist in 18 minutes. That helped the Blue team edge the White team 102-98.
The week before, Capel and the SeaHorses forced a fifth and deciding game in the championship finals after falling behind 0-2. But the SeaHorses, the regular season champs, could not overcome the Toshiba Bravethunders, led by MVP Tom Kleinschmidt (DePaul), and ended as the league's runner-up.
EVTIMOV CLEARED TO RETURN
* Former Tar Heel Vasco Evtimov has been informed that medical tests reveal that he does not have a cardiac arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat) and will be available to play for Lottomatica Roma of the Italian League, according to European press reports. Evtimov has been sidelined for three weeks after a medical exam by the Italian club showed the possibility of a cardiac ailment.
All sports events were called off in Italy over the weekend with the country in mourning over the death of Pope John Paul II on Saturday. Former Tar Heel Dante Calabria also plays in the Italian League. Calabria is with Armani Jeans Milano.
D. WILLIAMS TRIES FINLAND
* After his CBA season finished in Idaho, sharpshooter Donald Williams took aim on the Sparliiga playoffs in Finland. Williams was signed near the end of the regular season by the Honka Playboys (18-18, eighth).
The playoff run ended Saturday as Honka was swept in three games by the league's regular season winner (27-9). Williams was injured in the first game of the best-of-five series and was unable to play in the other two games of the series.
BIRTHDAYS OF APRIL
- 1: Warren Martin (42)
- 1: Jerod Haase [asst. coach] (31)
- 2: Randy Wiel (54)
- 2: Mike Ellis (38)
- 4: Larry Miller (59)
- 4: Sean May (21)
- 5: Shammond Williams (30)
- 7: Jim Everett (26)
- 7: Reyshawn Terry (21)
- 12: Doug Wojcik (41)
- 20: Jackie Myers (26)
- 22: Donald Washington (53)
- 28: Serge Zwikker (30)
- 29: Juana Brown (26)